The passing of former President Corazon "Cory" Aquino yesterday, August 1st, is a sad day for the millions of Filipinos who embraced democracy and is continuing its fight to keep it two decades later. I never thought that her passing would bring a flood of memories for me and not just memories of Edsa and People Power 1 but memories of my life stories that I never thought would come back.
I have always been apolitical and it has always been one of the things that I remember my own mother tried her best to change. I left De La Salle University in September 1985. It was one of if not the most turbulent times for Philippine politics. The month before, President Cory's husband Ninoy was just assassinated. Amidst all this I remember that I was pre-occupied with going out with friends and just plain having a good time because I did not have to study anymore. What I forgot and now remember is despite the turbulence of the times, I was never afraid even if I did not know what lies ahead of me and what career path should I take.
My own mother who we fondly called Maming at that time, I remember now was also unafraid and maybe that is why I wasn't afraid either. Despite the financial difficulties that we were having then - my father (Paping) has just retired and is only getting his income from teaching golf, I had 4 other brothers and sisters who are in school, the political and economic turmoil, etc - my Maming was calmy keeping the family together.
February 1986, I was officially a bum for 5 months. When the call for People Power came, I remember my Maming packing all of us into our old Ford Fiera and headed out to Edsa. It was just another family outing is all I remember but now I realized how strong her conviction was and without so many words just showed us. Even with a string budget that the family was on at that time, Maming passed by a grocery store and bought boxes and boxes of juice drinks and packs and packs of bread. I don't know about my brothers and sisters but now I remembered that I never even bothered to ask why she was doing that. I just watched and sat at the back of truck. Until we got to Guadalupe along EDSA.
I never would think of walking from Guadalupe to Camp Aguinaldo even now. Alipin ako ng kotse. Ayaw na ayaw ko noon maglakad or mag-commute. But now I remembered that my Maming made me do it without even asking us. She just went down the truck, made each one of us carry as much as we can and started walking towards the throng of people in Edsa and giving away food and drink. We just followed. And stayed.
By just being there, I remember now that I learned so many of my life's lessons. Oh there were many more to come as the next 23 years passed - career, marriage, etc. But those times my eyes just absorbed it all, buried at the back of my head and have now been resurrected as the icon of those times died.
I also realized now that my Maming must have felt a connection with that housewife back then. Like President Cory, my Maming was both mother and father to 5 children most of her married life because her husband's profession required him to be away 90% of the year. And despite all of her personal challenges, she still had time and chose to make a stand.
My Maming who is now in heaven too has not cured my being apolitical. Wala pa din akong interest sa politika. But if push comes to shove, I think I learned that very important lesson well from my Maming and President Cory too. Kikilos din ako. I will most likely do something. Because it is not anymore politics but life and the future.
Rest in peace President Cory.
Rest in peace Maming. I love you and will always, always miss you.