Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bayan Ko

"Bayan Ko (My Country)," a soulful Filipino ballad that sings of love for country (the Philippines) of Filipinos who will always cherish a free, peaceful nation, even if it means sacrificing everything for that freedom and peace. The song was composed in 1928 by Filipinos Mr. Jose Corazon de Jesus and Mr. Constancio de Guzman, while the Philippines was campaigning for independence from America. In mid-198os, the song had a revival of sorts when it became the protest song of Filipinos fighting a dictatorship. It has since become standard fare in rallies and gathering where Filipinos get together to speak up against graft and corruption, and peace and freedom for the country. Modern-day Filipinos have sung it particularly with arms raised, and the index finger and thumb formed into the letter "L," which stood for "laban" or fight.

In Cory Aquino's wake and funeral (see previous blog entry), "Bayan Ko" again gained prominence at it was sung in various days, including most prominently, during the funeral mass, after which her long funeral procession began on Metro Manila's streets, witnessed by multitudes of people. Cory had led many of the protest marches in which the song had been played or sung. During her fight against dictator Marcos in 1986 for the presidency and the ensuing marches after the election marred by vote manipulation, singing the song was a rallying point for the Filipinos, which culminated in people power, the ousting of Marcos, and the installation of Cory as the first female President of the country. Cory's People Power Revolution later became credited with inspiring other peoples and countries in many parts of the world to demand change for the better in their governments.

The video link below (from Dadivas08 YouTube channel) is from Cory's funeral mass, where a soulfoul rendition of "Bayan Ko" is given by Ms Lea Salonga, a Tony-award winning Filipino stage and film singer/actor. The other video link (from tribeofjedTV YouTube channel)shows various Filipino singers also singing at Cory's funeral mass the song "Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo (Gift of the Filipinos to the World)." This song was inspired by the Philippines people power experience in 1986, and how Filipinos will not permit again the loss of its freedom, as it also inspires other countries to value their freedom as well.

Cory's funeral--Maraming Salamat, President Cory Aquino..Thank you very much, President Cory Aquino

Millions of Filipinos mourned at former Philippine President Corazon "Cory" Aquino's death on August 1, 2009, culminating on her funeral on August 5, 2009. Thousands waited in line to pay respects at her wake, multitudes attended her funeral mass and funeral procession that lasted a little over eight hours, almost as long as her husband's (former Sen. Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, who fought the dictatorship in the Philippines and was murdered in 1983) funeral procession. Her wake and funeral mass gathered together the country's migh
ty and strong and the common people. Her funeral mass brought together some of the country's best singers to sing for her. When her body was transferred from the La Salle gym in Ortigas district to the Manila Cathedral a few days before her burial, her procession passed by the Makati district, the country's financial capital and site of many of protest actions that Cory had led as the leading oppositionist in the country. This procession in Makati was an emotional one as her procession received the final confetti shower from tall buildings in the district as it was always done whenever protest actions passed by the streets of the area. People came in droves to Makati, employees went down from their offices to welcome, for the last time, Cory to Makati, and to say goodbye to her.

Her people patiently waited
Her funeral procession on August 5 winded through a number of cities and towns on the way to her final resting place in the Manila Memorial Park in Paranaque C
ity. Again, people in droves were on the streets, walking, running, waving, cheering her name, putting up their banners on which were written various thank you notes to her. Many waited for hours for the funeral procession to pass by their way, never minding the rain that sometimes fell hard, the heat of the sun that occasionally poured out; they also didn't mind the hunger or the thirst or the fatigue--sometimes these were alleviated by sharing their food or drink or some shelter to rest. They came from all walks of life, and in all ages--from toddlers carried on the shoulders of adults, to schoolchildren, to teenagers, to elderly people, to busloads of people from the provinces, to professionals, to blue-collar workers, to vendors and public transport drivers. Cory loved the Filipino people, and they all loved her back, showing this to the fore on all the days of her lying in state and at her burial.

Military in full force
Throughout the days of her wake and her burial, Cory was accorded full military honors, despite her children's refusal for her to have a state funeral, opting to have a private funeral. Generals carried and saluted her coffin, honor guards were beside her coffin at her wake and the full eight or nine hours of her funeral procession, cannon and gun salutes rever
berated in military camps--all in honor of their former Commander-in-Chief. The military honor accorded her did seem a bit ironic as the Aquino family, as do many Filipinos, have always thought that the military had a big role during the assassination of Ninoy in 1983 as he landed in the Philippines's airport, back from exile in the USA. Nevertheless, the military was with Cory all the way in her death, up to the moment that the generals had folded the flag that covered her coffin, and handed this over to her children, during the last ceremonies at the cemetery.

Emotions ran high
Cory's funeral procession that started early morning with a funeral Mass ended late at night, with the multitudes still waiting for their beloved President at the gates of the cemetery. After the long flatbed truck had entered the cemetery, the people were to be held at bay, as the ceremonies inside were meant to be among several hundreds only to keep the peace and order in check. But the mass of people could no longer be held at bay, and so they came inside the cemetery, almost near the Aquino burial plot, just as soon as the military had almost finish
ed giving its honors to the former President, and the priest at hand was ready to give the final blessing to Cory. As expected, the Aquino children poured out their emotions at the final ceremonies, before their family was interred, beside her beloved husband.

As the Aquino family wept and cried throughout the whole wake and the burial, so did the nation. As more and more yellow ribbons (Cory carried the yellow color in leading the fight against corruption and tyranny in the country) sprung up everywhere in the country, tears flowed out freely from every Filipino who were there at the wake and funeral, on the streets, on TV watching the daily coverage, while glued to radio broadcasts, and or while glued to Internet streaming broadcasts.

Images of love
Much as I wanted to be there at the wake or at the funeral procession, I couldn't go because of work (in the 1983 burial of Ninoy, I was there along the procession on the streets of Manila). I watched some parts of the ceremonies for Cory's wake and funeral on Internet broadcast (particularly broadcasts of Manila TV stations GMA7 and ABSCBN2), and I've
managed to do video captures of some of the coverage. Above are some of the scenes I captured, in-between my crying over the ceremonies. Not all of them are clear pictures, but they still show how much Cory was loved by the people that she and her husband loved so much.In her death, Filipinos have remembered what the country meant to Cory; and they have been galvanized to pick up again where Cory had gone through. To look after their country, to protect it, to ensure a leadership and governance that will not lead the nation astray, and a citizenry that will work hard to make the nation peaceful and prosperous.