Ang bayan kong Pilipinas,
Lupain ng gintó’t bulaklák.
Pag-ibig ang sa kanyáng palad
Nag-alay ng gandá’t dilág.
At sa kanyáng yumi at gandá,
Dayuhan ay nahalina.
Bayan ko, binihag ka,
Nasadlák sa dusa.
Ibon mang may layang lumipád,
kulungín mo at umíiyák!
Bayan pa kayáng sakdál dilág,
Ang ‘dî magnasang makáalpás!
Pilipinas kong minumutyâ,
Pugad ng luhà ko’t dálitâ,
Makita kang sakdál laya!
I was barely 2 years old when Ninoy was assasinated and only 5 years old when People Power started but despite not fully grasping the political details of the events that was unfolding, all my senses had to told me to pay attention because the Philippines was going through a historic event. I remember standing at a bench near our sari-sari store shouting “Cory! Cory!” while making the “L” symbol with both hands. All I knew was her face and that she was fighting against a seemingly gargantuan man…
As I grew up, my ideology was somehow diminished as I heard more criticisms about her presidency and as people raised arguments on how better it was during the Marcos regime. In my mind however, I cannot fathom how more than 2 million Filipinos could all be wrong. Validation might have happened the day of her death and the days that followed it.
Though we might all question the effectiveness of her governance, I cannot allow anyone to question her strength, integrity and patriotism. Ninoy said it best in the poem that he wrote for her:
I have fallen in love
(Ninoy’s Poem for Cory)
I have fallen in love
With the same woman three times
In a day spanning nineteen years
Of tearful joys and joyful tears
I loved her first when she was young
Enchanting, brilliant, middle-strung
Vibrant, fragrant, eternally new
Cool, invigorating as the morning dew.
Desperate, she shared, quieted my despairs
Hopeful, she fanned the fires of my hopes
Lavished me with days of bliss and peace,
Endless, perpetual days of fond memories.
She is my hope; I do not wish to realize
Hence my hope; forever green, eternal prize
My life transcending life, my ultimate quest
Dream of my life for whom I’ll spare no rest.
I fell in love again
With the same woman the second time
When first she bore her child and mine
The first fruit of our union and our love.
The pains and anguish of motherhood she braved
Loved her children, their love she deservedly craved
Times were she hung on the very brink of death,
Unflinchingly fulfilling her mission to procreate.
In politics I plunged, she was always by my side,
Steadfast, uncomplaining, helping to turn the tide,
Amidst hardship, her rare courage would not relent
She was my secret weapon, the source of my strength.
The world was my concern, our home her domain,
The people mine, the children hers to maintain,
So it was in those eighteen years and a day
Till I was detained, forced in prison to stay.
Suddenly she became our sole support
Wellspring of hope, source of comfort
On her shoulders fell the burden of life
She emerged our captain in the sea of strife.
I fell in love again
With the same woman the third time
Looming from the battle, undaunted, unafraid,
Calm composed, she is God’s lovely maid.
It has been a year of many disappointments
Endless dark nights, long days of sad lament,
Of grave doubts, frustrations, bitter desolations,
Of privations, untold indignities, humiliations.
Dreams became nightmares; hopes, despair.
Rally to freedom’s call, no one will dare.
Future is obscured, life has lost its meaning,
The tunnel is long, we’re only at the beginning.
Leaders I admired, whose advice I sought
Became fallen idols, their souls were bought,
Their conscience they bartered for “soft” convenience,
Due to despicable cowardice, they’ve lost their patience.
Leaders became dealers, begging for part of the spoils,
Forgetting the value, the essence of the hottest toil,
Paralyzed be fear, they joined the amoral dictator,
Defending, waving the bloody flag of the new oppressor.
The pillars of society became the props of tyranny,
“Be realistic,” they urged, “if not for safety, for money.”
It is useless to resist, the tyrant is too strong,
Yet aware, with their help the tyranny will prolong.
Mother Pilipinas weeps, her noble sons are gone,
Her land of the morning, is now of the setting sun,
Back to her dungeon in chains she’s been returned;
For all her sacrifices, this is what she earned.
The night is cold and dark, there are no stars,
Our prisons are full, our souls wrinkled with scars,
Afflicted, persecuted, struck down but not crushed,
How soon will this blight be erased by Allah’s brush?
My only escape is to cling to the woman of my dreams
Who gave me a life full of love, a love full of life,
She is my urge to live, my sole motivation to survive,
She taught me not only to dream, but to make dreams alive.
Fight on! She says: Let not the guiltless ghost depart.
Your pains, our people know are caused by a thousand darts,
But be assuaged, remember the Filipino, his story, his past,
Soon, very soon, the tyrant will choke in his greedy power lust!
Cory Aquino died a few months shy of the next presidential election, reminding each Filipino about the importance of Democracy and that our action is what determines our future. I smile. I can’t help but think that even in her death, she made a difference.