With the inclement weather hanging over Metro Manila, I was hesitant in bringing along my four year old son Joaquin with me to Cory’s funeral honors this morning at the Manila Cathedral in historic Intramuros. But it was one of his ninongs who sent me a text message stating “sino pang Filipino ang susunod na bibigyan ng ganitong klaseng parangal sa mga susunod na panahon? …wala na” that convinced me to allow my son to witness a historic event unfold despite of the rains.
The four streets surrounding Plaza Roma were painted with yellow ribbons and people wearing yellow. It was in front of the Palacio del Gobernador we met with Joaquin’s ninongs publicist Ben Calderon and Associate Solicitor Moses Florendo.
Excited to see their inaanak, Ben and Moses took turns in taking my son and plopping him on their backs while we watched politicians, celebrities and VIPs walked in front us like in a red carpet premier. From the other side of the velvet rope, the crowd cheered the popular and booed the infamous.
At a quarter before 10 o’clock, the rain poured heavily. A sea of umbrellas filled the area. Most members of the crowd remained while there were some who went to the other side of the barrier. But the police force was courteous in controlling the crowd. The rain began to gradually stop when I received a text message from my wife that the coffin of President Aquino is being carried towards the cathedral’s main portal. She was monitoring the events inside the Cathedral from her office.
We rushed towards Andres Soriano Avenue. As the truck carrying the coffin of the former president passed by in front us, the people flashed the Laban sign and shouted Cory! Cory! Cory!
I was a couple of years-old younger than my son when Ninoy Aquino was assassinated and received the honor of a hero’s funeral from the people. I did not have any recollection of what happened back then. All I have are secondary accounts I’ve read in books. Being in Cory’s well-attended funeral in person not only made us feel that we’re one with the nation in witnessing a historic event it also gave us the honor of expressing our deepest gratitude to an extraordinary Filipino.
As I conclude this article, I am watching on television the final funeral rites for Cory Aquino at the Manila Memorial Cemetery in Paranaque. The full honors given by the world, the state, the church, the military, her family and the Filipino people that I’ve witnessed today and during previous days after Cory’s demise reminds me of what Antonio Banderas has said in one of the scenes in EVITA: What a way to go!