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”