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Saying goodbye to Cory Aquino  

Posted by Laya in

I got to La Salle Greenhills at around 7:30 pm last night, still early, I thought. Plenty of time for me to pay my last respects to a woman I have regarded as an icon, an idol, a great inspiration. Just as I was descending the stairs on the overpass near Gate 5, rain suddenly began pouring in great big bucketsful. Good thing I brought my umbrella.

Then I spotted the long, long line into Gate 5. The thought that leaped into my mind was: "Naku, penitensya to! (Oh, no, this will be a penance!)" No matter, I thought, I will see this through. After all, this is the last chance. I'm here. Go go go. I headed for the end of the line... and found it at the corner of Columbia, a block away from the EDSA Shrine. The two elderly women who lined up behind me said that the line stretched all the way to EDSA before doubling back.


But it didn't matter, one of them said, waving at the people in the line before us. "Nagtiyaga nga silang pumila at maghintay, tayo pa kaya (They patiently lined up and waited, we can do the same)."

"Para naman ito kay Cory eh (After all, this is for Cory)," added the young man behind them.

Just ahead of me in the line was an entire family: father, mother, and three daughters. While the two older girls patiently accompanied their mother, the father carried the youngest when she complained she was tired.

There was no shoving or jostling, no complaining. Everyone patiently waited, stopped when the line stopped, advanced when the line moved. People from all walks of life were there. Well-off matrons in pretty dresses, young women carrying shopping bags, young men with iPods, entire families, old people, teenagers with backpacks, nuns, office ladies in uniform... well-dressed, casually dressed, in expensive shoes or flip-flops. Almost all of them in varying shades of yellow... those who weren't in yellow wore black, yellow ribbons on their chests. Fences and lampposts along the way, even the railings of the Ortigas flyover above us, bore fluttering yellow ribbons. Even most of the vehicles that passed... cars, taxis, jeepneys, buses, had yellow ribbons on them.

Hawkers moved along the line, selling crackers, chips, candy, peanuts and bottled drinks. Others offered yellow ribbons, armbands, and shirts saying "We love you Cory. Thank you." A lot of people bought shirts and wore them over their clothing. I saw an elderly lady wearing a yellow ribbon tied around her head. I remembered that I had only had a bowl of pancit canton for breakfast, over eight hours before, so I bought some crackers and C2 iced tea. The elderly woman behind me cautioned me to drink sparingly, as there were no toilets in sight.

The line got stuck for the better part of an hour as Mass was conducted inside La Salle at 8:00 pm. Fortunately, the rain stopped. As we waited, people chatted. Looking around me, I thought that age and distance might have prevented me being at the first EDSA, but this might be a taste of what it was like, this sense of unity, this sense of being there for a united purpose. By the time the line got moving again, it was as if there were no longer any strangers among us. We were there for Cory. Even in her death, as in her life, she united us.

"Parang EDSA ulit ah," I heard someone comment. By then the line had doubled back upon itself again, so that people had to walk from EDSA to La Salle gate and back to EDSA before stepping on the last stretch to get into La Salle. But fortunately, we were already on the last stretch. People were asking us, how long have you been here? When we said we'd been there since 7:30, some of them groaned. But no one looked like they had any intention of giving up and leaving.

As we neared the gate of La Salle, some of Cory's grandsons came out and walked along the line, thanking everyone. "Salamat po sa inyong pakikiramay (Thank you for your condolences)."

No, some of us said. It is us who thank Cory.

When we finally went through the gate of La Salle, I looked at the time. It was 11:00 pm.

From there, it was a long, long trudge up the winding ramp into the dome, though not as long as the one we had outside. Finally we were there, walking up that final aisle, towards the bier at the center where she lay surrounded by yellow flowers. She looked serene, dressed in her trademark yellow, a rosary twined among her clasped fingers. I barely had the time to look and whisper "Thank you po," before we were waved on, to exit through another door.

In the end, the visit was way shorter than the wait, but no matter. At least I got to say goodbye in person to someone whom I have always greatly admired and respected -- Corazon Aquino.

This entry was posted at Monday, August 03, 2009 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

1 people cared

Thanks for sharing this, Cory Aquino deserve that kind of gratitude, all for her, I think this actually way better than that state funeral...

August 3, 2009 at 10:52 AM

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