Friday, July 31, 2009

Tita Cory, RIP

Former Philippine President CORAZON COJUANGCO AQUINO, 1933-2009, the country's most-loved president, and everybody's favorite "aunt" (Tita or Aunt Cory, as she was known to all her fellow citizens, whom she led from the shackles of dictatorship in the 1980s via People Power).

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Cory! Cory!

I join Filipinos everywhere who are praying for ailing former Philippine President Corazon “Cory” Aquino who was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer in March last year, and is now hospitalized in Manila, with the cancer cells said to have spread across her body. Cory is the woman in yellow who led Filipinos in toppling dictator Marcos in 1986, following the assassination of her husband former Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr on his return to the Philippines in 1983 at the Philippines airport, after his exile in the USA. Cory is the woman in yellow who came from near anonymity to bravely, if maybe a bit reluctantly at first, to lead the nation’s People Power in ending the abuses and frivolities of a dictatorship. Cory later became the Philippines’s first woman president, inheriting an administration almost plundered into nothingness in economic and social terms. In later years after her presidency, Cory (along with the late Jaime Cardinal Sin of Manila) continued to be the Filipinos’s leading light against abuses in government, serving as their voice as well as constant reminder that ultimate power resides in the people and real change can only come from citizens who care.

Now, Cory is in pain, much as the Philippines is also again in pain, rocked by scandals and controversies that have been hounding its present government, with a president who’s getting the lowest satisfaction ratings ever, and corruption and poverty leering in many corners of society. But Cory is holding on, seemingly not minding the pain and weakness—as her family so attests on her daily condition—as if to give the message to her fellow Filipinos that this is the way it should be, to be strong amid adversities, to not give up amid sufferings, to look beyond challenges into opportunities, to take each day as a blessing and an opportunity to make the present and the future better for each and everyone.

In the 1980s, “yellow fever” gripped the Philippines, as yellow became the symbolic color of the fight against dictatorship, with Cory leading the fight while flashing the "L" sign with her hand, which stood for laban or "fight." Many parts of the country and many Filipinos are now again turning yellow as symbolic support to ailing Cory, as the people as one are rallying behind this fight of her life. Yellow ribbons hang around trees, posts, fences, gates, cars, as people hold healing Masses for Cory, and shout “Cory, di ka nag-iisa (Cory, you are not alone)!” as they once also shouted in support of her husband Ninoy’s sacrifice for the nation, “Ninoy, di ka nag-iisa!”

Friday, July 10, 2009

When icons pass away

The “greatest entertainer who ever lived” more than just “king of pop” was how one of the celebrity-speakers described Michael Jackson in the July 7, 2009 memorial for him held in Staples Center, Los Angeles. This description drew thunderous applause from the thousands who were inside the auditorium, and from all the other millions viewing the ceremonies from televisions or Internet streams.

I have a few Jackson 5/Michael Jackson favorites—One Day in Your Life, Blame It on the Boogie, I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, Happy, I’ll Be There, and a few others—but he wasn’t really up there on top of my list as a favorite singer or entertainer. But now, after his death, I’ve come to realize and appreciate how much really a genius he was as the consummate artist. The various retrospect on his career after his death—his songs, his videos, his performances on stage—that I’ve seen on TV and the Internet have made me an instant fan, or a fan all over again. Clearly, no other entertainer, living or dead, had come close, and perhaps will ever come close (in future years) to Michael’s professional creativity and achievements. As a performing artist whose audience was guaranteed to get much more than their money’s worth, Michael is/was a legion of his own.

For most of Michael’s life, and now in even in his death, controversies always hounded him. I don’t know the real score on those controversies and allegations against him. But Michael now faces his Creator. All is now up to him and the Creator. For us he has left behind, we can only thank the Almighty that He gifted us with one Michael Jackson, who superbly entertained us in our lifetime, and will surely be entertaining generations to come with his legacy of music. Michael was 50.

A few hours before Michael died on June 25, 2009, Farrah Fawcett (formerly Farrah Fawcett-Majors when she was starting to make her mark on TV and eventually became a star in the 1970s while still married to Lee Majors, another TV star in the USA, who starred in The Six Million Dollar Man) passed away after her battle with anal cancer. Farrah of the famous Charlie’s Angels, one of most popular TV shows of the 1970s to early 1980s (though she stayed only in the first season and was a guest for some episodes for the next season), bravely fought the cancer that brought down her body, but not her spirit. Farrah eventually lost her battle with the disease. But her gallant stand till the very end against her sickness will be an inspiration for others who have to face life-threatening diseases. The same way that she inspired legions of people as a TV star. Farrah was 62.

Famous as they were, Michael and Farrah, alon
g with the other popular entertainers in my teenage years, were there on everybody’s music records, TV, radio, notebook covers, lunchboxes, magazines, scrapbooks. Icons like these two people are part of the memories of the years that I shared with my classmates in school and friends in the neighborhood. When icons like them pass away, it makes me go back and remember that part of my life that they touched the most, like it was only yesterday. But part of remembering is also letting go and accepting that these icons are not indestructible, and like any other human beings, they will pass away, too. But I can only thank them for sharing with us their life and their talent.

Thanks Michael, for sharing your music with the world.
Thanks Farrah, for the entertainment and inspiration you gave to the people.

Below is a photo montage I made of these two beautiful people. And Farrah with Lee in earlier years.