Thinking Allowed – Paalam, Tita Cory!

by Nicasio Angelo Agustin

SHE was finally laid to rest.  The icon of democracy was laid to her final place on earth after almost a seven-hour procession from the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros to the Manila Memorial Park in Paranaque.   The distance is, more or less, 25 kilometers, but it took time for the cortege to inch its way its way through the throngs of thousands of Cory’s countrymen lining both sides of the streets and shouting “CORY!….CORY!.…CORY!.…”  
There were three (3) things that struck me most during and after the event.  One, is the reality that Tita Cory will never be with us again.  Second, is the multitude that followed and brought her all the way to her final resting place.  Third, was the message of her daughter, Kris, particularly the line “…Mom, don’t worry, we will take care of each other…”
The first showed us how dispensable life is, but for Tita Cory, she lived her life to the fullest that while she’s gone now, she left us a legacy.  It is not just a simple legacy for us to remember her by, but a legacy that will continue to make us the people that we would like to become – free and united.  She was, and still is, considered the icon of democracy who in her lifetime believed in the ideals and principles of true democratic governance.  During her era, she instituted a lot of reforms in the government and she introduced a new way of thinking, a paradigm, an ideology of sorts that impacted on the lives of Filipinos during her regime and even up to now.  While she could not be remembered for grand physical infrastructure projects, she designed and engineered social integration and reforms which are the strongest foundations of democracy.  It is for us now to keep her legacy in our hearts and into the core of our being as a nation.  Let’s make “democracy” our way of life.
The crowd followed Tita Cory during her funeral procession as their simple way of showing their admiration for her as a person and as a leader of this nation.   The crowd was a mix of the elite, the middle, and the masses.   Her influence was dispersed across people regardless of status, but she could easily be associated with the masses which were anyway the focus of her programs and projects during her term as President of our country.  People address her in many ways, but “Tita Cory” aptly describes the relationship she had with the ordinary people – a combination of respect, affinity and close connection. 
The message of Kris to her Mom touched on her siblings.  I can relate to Kris because I said the same line during the funeral rites for my father who we laid to rest the day Tita Cory died. Even if Kris was not referring to us Filipinos to take care of each other, I think that the only way to continue making real the precepts of democracy which Tita Cory crafted for us is to show that we care for each other.  Without showing that we care for other people, the legacy that Tita Cory left us could easily go to naught.  A simple gesture of caring could lead us towards unity and solidarity in our actions, in our beliefs, in our aspirations, and our direction as people and as a nation.
After her interment,, it was reported that some members of Congress would support a move to declare Tita Cory as a national hero.  She deserves it.  And did I hear it right that some camps are also making moves for the beatification of Tita Cory as a saint of the Catholic Church? 
While we admire her so much, the challenge for us now is to protect and fight for the democracy she unselfishly served us. 
I would then like to share a text message I received after Tita Cory was laid to rest.  It says “Paalam Pangulong Cory. Maraming salamat sa mga itinuro mo sa amin – kabaitan at kababaang loob, kasimplehan ng pamumuhay kahit na ikaw ay napakayaman, katatagan ng kaisipan at kalooban kahit sa gitna ng suliranin, katapatan at walang dudang integridad, at taimtim na pagmamahal at pananampalataya sa Diyos.  Nawa’y ang diwa ng lahat ng ito’y hindi mailibing sa iyong paglisan.  Paalam… Maraming Salamat…”   
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