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!”

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