Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Queuing for Cory

The best time to pay my respects, I figured, was early morning of Sunday, Aug. 2. Public viewing would resume at 7 a.m. after having closed earlier at 4 a.m. Maybe I could beat the crowds--and, luck holding, the rains. By 6:30 I was at Gate 2 of La Salle Greenhills. The line was already halfway to the EDSA-Ortigas junction, and 15 minutes after I had found my spot the line was twice as long.

People of every stripe just kept arriving--young and old, families and individuals, many in yellow shirts or with yellow ribbons tied around their bags, umbrellas, wrists. I had none--until a manong came along hawking yellow strips of ribbon at P5 each. He did brisk business up and down the line, his customers chuckling good-naturedly at his enterprising bent.

The line started moving by 7 a.m., with a few brief stops along the corridor as we wound our way toward the La Salle gymnasium. There were huge wreaths everywhere, beautifully arranged flowers and foliage. Inside the gym, the rosary was being said by a group of nuns. We were gently told by ushers in yellow that photos and video were no longer allowed at a certain point near the bier.


The queue moved rather fast. People didn't linger in front of the coffin; they stepped up, took a peek, crossed themselves and moved on. Several paces away from my turn, I had already said my prayers. I just wanted to focus on looking at her and catching details, if any (old journalist's habit). I did, and it struck me how... different she looked now. Not only because she didn't have her glasses on. She was thinner, frailer, though still a picture of dignity even in repose. The disease had clearly ravaged her. Oh, Cory...

I must have stayed in that spot a second or two longer than was allowed. But there was a whole country behind me waiting for their turn to say goodbye and thank you. I moved on.


It was 7:45 when I stepped out of the gym. The corridors were still full; the yellow shirts, ribbons, banners, flowers--the pictures of the woman in the color she had owned--bright and warm points of light in the wan early morning sun.


PLUS: “[A]s Cory Aquino lived, so she remains in death: having accepted only the barest minimum in terms of the honors of state, because she only held the position to accomplish the transition back to democracy, and doing so with a scrupulous regard not to burden the public purse with fuss over her person.

“For Cory, the presidency had always been a means to an end, not a means in itself; so it is truly fitting she will be laid to rest with nothing more than what she’d started out with, as a widow: a nation by her side, united in grief, and in a manner that ultimately manifests the power of the people and not of whoever happens to comprise today’s officialdom.”


-- Manuel L. Quezon III, “The Long View: Nothing greater than the people themselves”

4 comments:

Brian Shane said...

Seriously? I'm not on your blog list?

Anonymous said...

Goodbye Tita Cory. Thank you for your courage and sacrifice. May the people of this country take your example to heart, which is love of country.

reyjr said...

I saw as well how different she looked from how I imagined. :(

It was an honor to sing for her for one last time. :(

the barefoot baklesa said...

she will truly be missed...

like I said in my own tribute after reminiscing how I met her while still a freshman at the ateneo,

to this effect: I think we don't only grieve for her but we also grief for ourselves in some way...

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