President Aquino: I really miss my mother
President Aquino on Monday led the nation in paying tribute to his late mother, former President Corazon Aquino, whose death two years ago triggered popular sentiments for her only son to follow in her footsteps leading to Malacañang.
In an impromptu speech before his mother’s tomb at Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City, Mr. Aquino talked at length about how he missed his mother who died of colon cancer on Aug. 1, 2009, at 76.
“I can’t help but really feel a little bit—how shall I put it—I really miss my mother,” he said. “I’m occupied with so many matters that in those very few moments that give me pause, (I) really just sit down and, well, (feel) depressed.”
“Of course, there are times when frustrations come my way, especially these days. I do have my mom (in my thoughts) still,” he said.
“(But) I do not pray to her and tell her: ‘Mom, this is the problem I’m confronted with, what do you think I should do?’ That would be embarrassing after all she had done for us all those years,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino.
“I guess it’s no longer right to pass problems on to her,” the President said before family members, friends and Cabinet officials who marked the second anniversary of his mother’s death with a Mass and simple rites on a rainy Monday afternoon.
The gathering mostly turned up in yellow, the signature campaign color of the late democracy icon.
To open his speech, President Aquino joked that his mother used to remind him to keep his remarks short and sweet.
“Because I keep remembering my mom’s admonition: ‘Anything you say over 10 minutes is really a waste of other people’s time,” he said.
But then he quickly explained that he made an “exception” during his State of the Nation Address (Sona) last week, where the speech almost ran for an hour.
The memories of his mother and his equally famous father—the martyred former Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr.—have provided “constancy” and “tremendous comfort” for him and his siblings.
Cory was laid to rest next to Ninoy, whose assassination in 1983 led to her unexpected entry into politics. The “plain housewife” rose to lead the opposition against the Marcos dictatorship till it was toppled by the Edsa People Power Revolution of 1986.
“No matter what travails we would go through, no matter how impossible the situation we found ourselves in, somehow just talking to either one or both of them produces such tremendous comfort in all of us,” Mr. Aquino said.
“Perhaps we don’t even have to dwell on the abstractions because they really did (have) exceptional lives, and one cannot help but feel grateful for having these tremendous influences in the lives we share together,” he said.
The President thanked the people who also “remained constant in our lives” even after the death of his parents.
Mr. Aquino also mentioned the recent deaths of his mother’s elder siblings Pedro Coujangco and Josephine Cojuangco-Reyes, who died within a few days of each other.
In the Mass, Cory’s then spiritual adviser, Fr. Catalino Arevalo, recalled that even when she was in pain because of cancer, she still “offered her suffering to the people.”
Arevalo also said he would always remember the former President for the “depth of her faith” in God.
Before the service, the Ninoy and Cory Aquino Foundation turned over a check amounting to more than P1 million to Education Secretary Armin Luistro, to help his department address the classroom shortage.
The donation came from the fund-raising runs held in February during the 25th anniversary of the Edsa People Power Revolution.
Also present were President Aquino’s four sisters and their families, Cory’s spokesperson Deedee Siytangco, former Sen. Rene Saguisag, former Public Works Secretary Jose de Jesus, and Pangasinan Rep. Gina de Venecia.
Some of Mr. Aquino’s Cabinet members also attended the Mass, including Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, and Presidential Communications and Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma.