The latest news stories from the major news organizations in Cebu and Manila in the Philippines, the US and other countries.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

August 3, 2009 Major News Stories



No work, school on Cory's burial on Aug. 5

August 5, the scheduled burial date for former President Corazon Aquino, has been declared a special non-working holiday, it was learned Sunday.  Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said the proclamation would "give Filipinos a chance to pay their respects and appreciation" to the late former president.

Aquino camp announces funeral sched

The sheer number of people who turned up at the wake of the late President Corazon Aquino in La Salle Greenhills has lifted the spirits of the family she had left behind.

"The family is very, very happy," DeeDee Siytangco, Aquino's spokesperson, said at a media briefing Sunday at the spacious school gym where the former President laid in state.

But when Aquino's remains are transferred to the Manila Cathedral Monday, and brought to her final resting place on Wednesday, it would almost be impossible to accommodate the thousands of people who would want to pay their last respects to the Philippine democracy icon.

Siytangco said one "welcome" alternative was for people to line up the streets when the presidential cortege passes by, especially since the Manila Cathedral would be a much smaller place than the La Salle Greenhills gym.

"People who may not be able to go to the Cathedral can line the streets, wear yellow and throw yellow flowers and confetti to her as she passes by," Siytangco said.

"That's welcome because I know that the three-day viewing is very short for many people who have turned out from all over the country to come (to the wake). As you can see the lines are so long here and they brought their families here just to take a glimpse of her," she added.

The wake and funeral plans will continue even if it rains, Siytangco said.

However, the setting up of the "Dedication Garden for Tita Cory" at the Edsa Shrine has been postponed because of inclement weather.

Aquino's cortege will leave La Salle Greenhills at 11 a.m. Monday for the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros.

The presidential cortege will take Edsa then turn right on Ayala Avenue where Siytangco said the people can give the former President a "final confetti farewell."

The cortege will turn left on Buendia, right at the South Luzon Expressway and left on President Quirino Avenue. It will turn right on Roxas Boulevard and right on Intramuros.

There will be honor guards ceremonies before the presidential cortege departs La Salle Greenhills gym and before entering Manila Cathedral.

At the Manila Cathedral Monday, public viewing will be from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. 
Viewing will be suspended during the 8 p.m. Mass and will resume afterwards.

On Tuesday, public viewing will be from 7 a.m. to 12 noon. A Mass will be held at 12 noon. Necrological services will be held from 4-6 p.m. and will be aired live on ABS-CBN. A Mass will follow at 8 p.m. Public viewing will resume from 8 am to 4 am.

Aquino's "last journey" on Wednesday will begin with a 9 a.m. Requiem Mass.

It will be followed by the family's response to be given by Senator Benigno Aquino III. 
There will be honor guards ceremonies before the cortege leaves the Cathedral for the cemetery.

Another Aquino family friend, filmmaker Maria Montelibano, said at the press conference that "people are discouraged from going straight to the Aquino mausoleum because of the space limitation."

Only about 100 to 200 people can be accommodated at the Aquino mausoleum at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City.

"The Aquino mausoleum is very small. The tomb of Senator Aquino has been moved and will share the area with President Aquino," Montelibano said.

However, huge screens will be put up by ABS-CBN to enable the public to still watch the funeral.

Montelibano and Siytangco asked the media to relay to the public that instead of being at the funeral itself, they could again line the streets along the route from the Manila Cathedral as they say their final goodbye to the late President.

From the Manila Cathedral, the cortege will travel along Roxas Boulevard, turn left on Quirino Avenue, and turn right on the Southern Luzon Expressway.

It will exit on Sucat and turn right on Sucat Road and left to enter Manila Memorial Park. 
The cortege will take Bougainvillea Road.


Kris thanks Erap for reaching out

The youngest daughter of the late President Corazon Aquino thanked former president Joseph Estrada for reaching out to her mother when she was fighting colon cancer.

'People not Malacañang will honor Aquino'

The late former president Corazon Aquino's family refused a state funeral for her because honor would come from the people, not Malacañang, her youngest daughter said.

In an emotional television interview, actress Kris Aquino also criticized government for ordering her mother's two military escorts to report to their mother units while the former leader was fighting for her life in the hospital last July.

But while she chastised the administration, the young Aquino thanked her parents' nemesis, the Marcos family, for praying for her mother. "I felt the sincerity," she said.

The young Aquino said before her mother died, a Palace official, who was a family friend, offered a state funeral for her mother in Malacañang.

The official, whom she refused to identify, told the family that the Palace was "damned if you do, damned if you don't" on whether or not to mount state honors for the former president.

Kris said she told the official: "Di ko problema ang problema ninyo, ang problema ko lang, Mom ko [Your problem is not my problem. My only concern is my Mom]."

The television host broke down in tears as she recalled how Mrs. Aquino's two military escorts were asked to report back to their mother units for "accounting" purposes.

The two soldiers, she said, were "like family" and accompanied her mother to every check-up and accompanied her at the hospital.

"A little respect. Don't take away the security blanket of my Mom. It really hurt me," she said, adding, "Pag may impluwensiya ka, pahirapan mo kalaban mo [When you have influence, you will make it hard for your enemies]."

Mrs. Aquino had a falling out with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo since July 2005, when the former leader called for her resignation due to allegations of massive election fraud.

In June this year, from her sickbed, Mrs. Aquino issued a statement blasting as a "shameless abuse of power," efforts by Arroyo's allies to rewrite the 1987 Constitution.

FVR stresses peaceful transition of power

Former President Fidel Ramos said a peaceful transfer of power was part of his late predecessor Corazon Aquino's legacy that the country's leaders must respect.

'Snappiest salute' from military to Aquino

Volleys of cannon fire thundered from military camps across the country from sunrise to sunset on Saturday, the highest military honor and memorial service the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) gave its former commander-in-chief, Corazon Aquino, who succumbed to colon cancer.

Hours after the announcement of the death of the country's first woman President, who toppled a dictator with a People Power revolt in 1986, volleys from a 105-millimeter howitzer were heard at 30-minute intervals from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

"In this time of national mourning, the AFP gives our snappiest salute to President Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino, as we pledge our firm and unwavering commitment to tirelessly continue defending our democratic way of life she had fiercely fought to regain," said AFP Chief of Staff General Victor Ibrado said in a brief ceremony at military general headquarters, where he announced news of Aquino's death to troops.

Cannon fire salutes for Aquino reverberated in 10 other major camps across the country, including Fort Bonifacio and the Bonifacio Naval Station in Taguig City, the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City, and Fort Del Pilar in Baguio City, the home of the Philippine Military Academy.

Full military honors were accorded last to former President Diosdado Macapagal when he died on April. 21, 1997, AFP spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Romeo Brawner Jr. said.

According to military custom, the cannon-fire salute, marked with a single blast every 30 minutes from sunrise to sunset, begins and ends with eight volleys set by a five-man firing battery, he said.

Flags flew at half-mast starting Saturday as chapels and churches in all major military camps offered Masses for Aquino.

Ibrado described Aquino as a "great leader, and icon of the country's resilient spirit. The AFP is indebted to Her Excellency, for it was under her administration that the military institution started a long process of self-review and assessment."

The assessments roused the military organization to initiate a tough process of post-martial law reforms, which in turn brought the AFP to strictly follow the chain of command and "the constitutional precept" of the supremacy of the civilian authority, he said.

Ibrado added that Aquino's presidency was a "shining moment" in the history of the Armed Forces when the military regained its "moral footing."

"Her legacy will remain etched deeply in the hearts, minds and souls of the soldiers patrolling our land, sailors and marines sailing our seas and airmen defending our skies," he added.

The AFP chief also ordered arrival and departure honors when Aquino's body was brought to the Heritage Memorial Park in Taguig City, and vigil guards to be deployed during the wake on a rotation basis, said Brawner.

"The chief of staff said it was our obligation to give full military honors to former President Aquino. But if the family refuses, we will accede to their request," he told the Philippine Daily Inquirer (parent company of INQUIRER.net) upon learning that Aquino's family did not want a state burial.

If this was so, the AFP would do away with the customary military funeral, where a two-star general acting as a military host and eight one-star generals as pallbearers would carry the flag-draped coffin of the departed head of state, explained Brawner.

But on the day of Aquino's burial, the AFP would still execute the 21-gun salute by a firing rifle platoon in all its major camps across the country, the highest honor the nation can give to a deceased President, he said.

Tributes continued to pour from top military officials on Saturday.

Air Force Chief Lieutenant General Oscar Rabena said Aquino "will forever be etched in the heart of every Filipino airman, a legacy of freedom and democracy which the Philippine Air Force will forever guard up to the last breath."

Rabena was the aide de camp of then Armed Forces chief of staff Fidel Ramos after the 1986 People Power revolt. He was assigned later to Aquino's office. In the three years of working with Aquino, Rabena said he found her "very motherly" and always in control of the situation.

"Aquino's legacy of humility, selfless service and patriotism would continue to inspire every sailor and marine to be true defenders of our people and their democratic ideals," added Navy chief Vice Admiral Ferdinand Golez.

Golez was aide de camp of the late AFP chief Fabian Ver before the Edsa 1 revolt.


Aquino-Galman convicts thank Cory

Former soldiers who were convicted of murdering her husband condoled with the late President Corazon Aquino's family, as they thanked her for her forgiveness, which they said was crucial to their freedom.

Aquino understood political prisoners

Veteran activist Satur Ocampo remembers the day when the late President Corazon Aquino visited him and other political prisoners of the Marcos regime in prison.

Aides, foes remember gutsy Aquino

The chief bodyguard of former President Corazon Aquino, who has died from colon cancer, told Sunday of how she calmly combed her hair as rockets rained down on the presidential palace.

Aquino remained unruffled as rebel military aircraft attacked Malacanang palace in Manila in 1987, said former general Voltaire Gazmin, who tried to spirit her away from her chambers.

It was the second of a series of bloody armed challenges to a newly revived democracy.

The rebels had taken over a naval base near the capital.

"She was combing her hair," Gazmin told local television. "I told her, 'Ma'am you should come down, there has been shooting.' She said she was going to meet the press later, and she needs to be presentable."

The revolt was later put down with the help of the United States Air Force, which sent aircraft to patrol Philippine skies to prevent more attacks on the palace.

The housewife, who died early Saturday at the age of 76, was born into an elite land-owning family and had never planned on being president.

She was forced to step into her politician husband Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino's shoes after he was gunned down at Manila airport in 1983 as he returned home from the US to challenge dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

She ran against Marcos in a disputed 1986 snap presidential election, where allegations of government cheating triggered a bloodless coup and popular uprising that swept her to power and chased Marcos into US exile.

Meanwhile, a tribute was also paid to Aquino from an unlikely quarter.

Jose Maria Sison, the exiled founder of the country's long-running communist insurgency, said Aquino was a "friend of the family."

Sison, interviewed by phone on local radio from his home in Utrecht, the Netherlands, recalled how Aquino had freed him and hundreds of other jailed communist rebels as a measure of goodwill that set the stage for a ceasefire and peace negotiations.

The talks, however, went nowhere and Sison and other rebel leaders fled to the Netherlands to seek asylum, claiming threats to their lives by the military.

Some of those members also launched bloody but failed coup attempts against the new post-Marcos government.

And the leftist League of Filipino Students, a fiery critic of Aquino, said in a statement that "while (we) have had principled disagreements with President Aquino ... we shall not forget the periodic unities for good governance and reform shared with the students."

Business leaders hailed Aquino's role in helping the economy recover after years of corruption and dominance by Marcos and his cronies.

"When she took over, everyone was euphoric," said Edgardo Lacson, head of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry. "Investments came and all the basic industries recovered. Cronyism was tempered and business went back to its rightful owners."


Ex-coup plotter salutes Aquino

Twenty years ago, he took part in the bloodiest coup attempt to unseat former President Corazon Aquino, the nation's first woman president who led a popular revolt that toppled the Marcos dictatorship.  Now, detained Marine Colonel Ariel Querubin, regrets never having had the chance to meet and shake the hands of the woman who "braved the dark of the night" and heed his call for a peaceful protest in 2006.

Aquino led by example -- Guingona

Former Vice President Teofisto Guingona praised the late President Corazon Aquino for leading by example.  "In her life she was honest, transparent, fortright and galant in hergovernance. So the best teacher is she who teaches by example. That is the best teacher," Guingona said, as she visited Aquino's wake on Sunday.

"If the father is corrupt, a liar and a cheat, the children may not say it right away but they will learn from the lessons of the father, painful as it may be and they will have a hard time overcoming the sins of the father," Guingona said.

Guingona was a senator during the Aquino years.

Meanwhile, Senator Francis Pangilinan said the country lost an "icon" and an "inspiration" with Aquino's passing.

Pangilinan came to the wake with his wife, popular actress Sharon Cuneta, and their children, Frankie and Miel.

"Nakakahinayang dahil kung kelan nangangailangan tayo ng isanghuwarang leader ska sya nawala [It's a pity because we lost her when we needed a good leader]," Pangilinan said.

"She is an icon, an inspiration. We are all too small in her presence.We have to follow her example," Pangilinan said.

"Our condolences to the family. We offer our prayers for them. We are grateful for the knowledge, the love. She is a mother not only to usbut to the whole country as well," Cuneta said.

Cory of deep, unwavering faith: Pope

'Paint town yellow' for Aquino

Former President Corazon Aquino's "world-class statesmanship" will live forever in the hearts and minds of Filipinos, born-again pastor Brother Eddie Villanueva said on Sunday as he urged Filipinos to "paint the town yellow" by tying yellow ribbons on every door.

RP press hail Aquino, 'icon of democracy'

The death of former president Corazon Aquino, an "icon of Philippine democracy," has united the nation in grief, newspapers said Sunday, hailing the leader who ended two decades of dictatorship.

"Farewell, Cory," read the black-bordered front page of the Sunday Times, which showed Aquino, who died early Saturday after a long struggle with cancer, bowed in prayer.

"The icon of Philippine democracy is gone," said the Philippine Star, featuring a photograph of the bespectacled widow wearing her signature yellow dress, both thumbs and forefingers raised in the "L" sign of protest against the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship.

"What a great gift we've lost," read the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

"Grief has settled over the nation, uniting rich and poor, old and young, the partisan and the apathetic," it said in an editorial.

"Unity is a rare thing in our country. We have it now and adding to the feelings of grief is the wistful realization that it took the passing of Cory to reunite a divided nation," it added.

Aquino, who described herself as a "housewife," was reluctantly propelled to prominence after her husband, opposition leader Benigno Aquino, was shot dead when he returned to the country in 1983 to lead non-violent opposition to the dictator Marcos.

After a popular revolt toppled Marcos in 1986 and installed Aquino as president, she had to face down six coup attempts before stepping down in 1992.

The Manila Bulletin newspaper hailed Aquino for not seeking to stay in office after her term ended, unlike her predecessor Marcos, who ruled for 20 years before being forced into exile.

The daily said she remained "true to the commitment to secure a peaceful and orderly transition."

Tributes were also run on local television.

Economist Winnie Monsod, a former Aquino cabinet member, recalled: "We didn't see eye to eye many times so she didn't have my mind many times but this lady had my heart all the time because it was clear... she had no hidden agenda."

"Whether you agreed with her, you knew that what she had in mind was what was best for the Filipino people," Monsod added.

Agri chief pays last respects to Aquino

Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap paid his last respect to former President Corazon Aquino, who, he said was like a family to him.

Ex-Malaysian DPM's wife at Cory wake

From one housewife to another, a homemaker-turned-politician who has been described as the Malaysian Corazon Aquino, paid her respects to the people power icon Sunday at De La Salle Greenhills in Mandaluyong City.  

Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, wife of the Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, visited the wake of Aquino and said she felt "a deep sense of loss" with the death of the former president, whom she considered a dear friend.

Wearing a yellow veil and pin with Aquino's image, Wan Azizah, also an eye doctor, said she had always felt an affinity to Aquino, with whom she shared the experience of being the wife of a persecuted leader.

At an impromptu chat with the press, she read a statement by her husband Anwar that paid tribute to the former president.

"Cory treated my wife and children as family, exemplifying the solidarity of all hearts that thirst for justice," Anwar said in the letter.

Wan Azizah said the Malaysian people had a special reason to view Aquino as an iconic figure.

"Their striving for a return of their country to the dispensation entrusted to it by its founding constitution mirrors hers and Ninoy's struggle to return the Filipino nation to the promise of Rizal's legacy," Anwar said in his letter.

"Thus she earned the undying gratitude of the Filipino people for returning their country to the ideals of its founding liberator, Jose Rizal, whom history recognizes as Asia's first fighter for constitutional government by consent of the governed," he said.

In his statement, Anwar said: "Oppressed masses in Asia, nay the world, touched their forelocks in gratitude to her for the inspiring example of her courage in the face of adversity."

He also described the Aquino-led People Power Revolution as "one of the signal battles in the last quarter of the 20th century."

A steady stream of visitors continued to flow into the gymnasium where former President Corazon Aquino's body lay for the second day of the public viewing Sunday morning.

A long queue to the school entrance had formed as early as 5 a.m., as Filipinos paid their last respects to the icon of Philippine democracy who succumbed to colon cancer early Saturday.

By mid-afternoon, the queue had stretched all the way to Edsa, just a stone's throw from the Edsa Shrine, where multitudes had assembled for the people power revolts of 1986 and 2001.

Most of them wore yellow, while many others were garbed in black. The visitors came from many different walks—middle-aged housewives with children in tow, fathers and sons, teenagers in groups, students in their uniform, soldiers, teachers, government employees, and so on.

Some sported yellow ribbons tied around their arms, which they bought from an enterprising vendor who sold each ribbon for P5. A couple of vendors also sold yellow shirts with Aquino's picture and the message: "We love you, Tita Cory."

Aside from Wan Azizah, those in attendance included Senator Rodolfo Biazon, Ambassador Alistair Macdonald, head of the European Commission delegation to the Philippines, former Senate President Franklin Drilon, and Pampanga Governor Eddie "Among Ed" Panlilio.

Former social welfare secretary Corazon Soliman and former presidential adviser on the peace process Teresita Deles were also on hand to help usher the guests into the gymnasium.

Panlilio said he shared Aquino's view that the country needed healing, and an honest, incorruptible leader.

He said he hoped President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo would follow Aquino's example and step down from her office when her term ends in 2010.

For Sister Myrna Mercado of the Religious of Mary Immaculate in Manila, one of the dozens who had lined up at 5 a.m., Aquino was already considered a "member of the household."

"Practically we grew up with her. She is already like family to us," she said in an interview. 
Mercado said she thought of Aquino as the "mother of the nation and a woman of prayer."

Rolando Leonardo, 59, recalled seeing Aquino only from afar when he joined the multitudes who converged on Edsa for the first People Power Revolution.

"She was a great loss to us. She really made a difference in our lives," he said.

Margarita Loo, a part-time businesswoman, even brought along her pet dog Smeegol, who like his owner was garbed in Aquino's trademark yellow. (The Philippine Daily Inquirer later learned that Smeegol was not allowed to enter the gymnasium.)

During the noon Mass, Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines president Archbishop Angel Lagdameo said Aquino had "lived the meaning of 'the Filipino is worth dying for,'" a statement famously made by her martyred husband Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr.

This, Lagdameo said, Aquino accomplished when she "responded to the call to lead her people as president for six years."

"Because she said the Filipino is worth living for," he said to applause.

In his homily, Father Teofilo Rustia, the former chaplain of the Presidential Security Group during Aquino's term, recalled seeing a strange woman place a veil on Aquino's head in the middle of a Mass he officiated in 1990s.

He said it was eerie because Aquino was under heavy guard yet no one from the PSG saw the woman at all. Rustia said he thought it was just his imagination until members of the choir told him they saw the woman, too.

The priest said: "This was during the time when there were coups. Could it be that it was Mama Mary's way (of telling Cory) that she will protect her?"

The Mandaluyong police estimated that at its peak, the crowd inside the La Salle Greenhills compound swelled to 1,500 in the early afternoon of Sunday even as 3,000-4,000 mourners remained in queues that started at the gates all the way to Edsa.

"Today's (Sunday's) crowd was bigger than yesterday's and I expect the number to rise later in the evening," said Senior Superintendent Carlos de Sagun, the chief-of-police of Mandaluyong.


Arroyo attends mass for Aquino in NY

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo attended Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral in honor of the late President Corazon Aquino.  Arroyo was acompanied by her husband, Jose Miguel Arroyo, and Cabinet officials at the 10 a.m. Mass here.

Executive Secretary Eduard Ermita said the Mass was offered for Aquino, who died on Saturday after a battle with colon cancer.

Earlier, Ermita said Arroyo would be back in Manila before dawn Wednesday, in time for Aquino's burial.

Arroyo has declared Wednesday as a special non-working holiday, as well as a 10-day period of national mourning from August 1, when Aquino died due to complications from colon cancer.


Arroyo back in time for Aquino funeral

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will arrive in Manila just a few hours before former President Corazon Aquino is laid to rest at the Manila Memorial Park beside her husband, former Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr.

In a briefing at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said the President, who cut her scheduled meetings in Chicago, San Francisco, and Guam, would take a chartered flight out of New York and after refueling at San Francisco, would fly non-stop to Manila.

Though she could have left as early as Sunday from New York, Arroyo has opted instead to leave on Monday either before or after lunch on a chartered flight that would take her back to the Palace by 3 a.m. Wednesday before Aquino's burial set at 10 a.m.

Except for a Mass to be held at the Palace upon her arrival, it remained unclear whether Arroyo would attend the burial of Aquino.

"If the funeral is 10 (a.m.), the President and her party has time to visit the remains of the former President, '' said Ermita.

Aquino's former defense undersecretary is also unaware on whether the President had called any member of the family of Aquino to personally convey her condolences although her Palace executives have contacted the family and deferred to their wish to keep the interment as "simple as possible and to forgo the granting of state honors in Malacañang that would have meant a lying in state at the Palace.''

So far, Arroyo has been given two official honors to the former President: she signed Proclamation 1850 declaring a period of national mourning from August 1-10 with all Philippine flags flying at half mast; and Proclamation 1850 declaring August 5 a special non-working holiday.


Books of condolences for Cory abroad

Books of condolences will be opened at all Philippine embassies and consulates general to allow foreign friends and Filipinos overseas to pay their respect to President Corazon Aquino, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Sunday.

Malaysian dissident pays tribute to Aquino

If her husband personified "Filipino courage in the face of oppression," former president Corazon "Cory" Aquino was "every surviving victim's desire for redemption of a cause momentarily ground into dust by brute force," according to dissident and former Malaysian deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim in expressing his praise for the Philippine leader who died Saturday.

"Cory Aquino's struggle for and success at fortifying constitutional democracy in the Philippines was one of the signal battles in the last quarter of the 20th century. Oppressed masses in Asia, nay the world, touched their forelocks in gratitude to her for the inspiring example of her courage in the face of adversity," Anwar said in a statement.

Anwar is among the many world leaders, including President Barack Obama, who paid tribute to Aquino, known worldwide as an icon of democracy after she led a bloodless revolt that ended a 20-year dictatorship in 1986.

"If her husband Benigno Aquino personified Filipino courage in the face of oppression, as Jamie Cardinal Sin famously eulogized Ninoy at his funeral, Cory Aquino exemplified every surviving victim's desire for redemption of a cause momentarily ground into dust by brute force," Anwar said of the former housewife whose rise to power he likened to the late US president John F. Kennedy "ascension to soldierly bravery."

"They sank my boat," Anwar quoted Kennedy as saying in answer to the question on how he became a wartime hero.

Anwar said in the same manner, he would have imagined Aquino saying, "They killed my husband," if she were asked how a homemaker could have become the first female president of the Philippines.

Then Senator Aquino was assassinated in Aug. 21, 1983 on his return home to the country following a three-year exile in the US with his wife and five children.

"Against what she felicitously described as the "guns, goons and gold" of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Cory Aquino rallied the forces to change the seemingly hopeless destiny of the Filipino masses under the initially bright but soon-to-be blighted Marcos presidency," said Anwar, himself a prisoner for six years on alleged trumped up charges by the Malaysian government.

"Just as her husband could have preferred the sterile comforts of exile to the savage threats to his physical safety upon his return home, likewise Cory could have retired from her slain husband's cause and let the cup of destiny pass into the hands of another presumptive leader," he said.

"She didn't let the cup pass. Instead she raised her murdered husband's fallen banner, and after a two-and-a-half year struggle, hoisted it victoriously at the Malacanang Palace" he said.

"The Malaysian people have a special reason to view her as an iconic figure. Their striving for a return of their country to the dispensation entrusted to it by its founding constitution mirrors hers and Ninoy's successful struggle to return the Filipino nation to the promise of Rizal's legacy," said Anwar, referring to Philippine hero Jose Rizal, "whom history recognizes as Asia's first fighter for constitutional government by consent of the governed."

Anwar also expressed the gratitude of his family, especially his wife Azizah, to Aquino "for the generosity of her support during the years of my incarceration."

"Cory treated my wife and children as family, exemplifying the solidarity of all hearts that thirst for justice.
Azizah will convey in person the grief felt by Malaysians, particularly members of the party she leads, Keadilan, for the inspiration of her life's achievement and the solicitude she showed us in our hour of acute need," said Anwar.

"Our gratitude for her support knows no bounds; likewise our grief at her passing," he said.

Cory was 'ready to join' Ninoy – Kris

Several days before she died, former President Corazon Aquino had a vision of her martyred husband, former Senator Benigno Aquino Jr., who was fetching her from heaven, their youngest daughter said.

Television host Kris Aquino recalled how one time, during the wee hours, the former leader's nurses asked her to return to her mother's room. She said Mrs. Aquino had told the nurses that she "can already see Ninoy [her husband's nickname]."

"There was just one small lamp [in the hospital room]. It was dark and my Mom was lying on her bed. It was as if there was a spotlight [on my mother]. She can see dad," the young Aquino said.

"Is he calling you? She said, yes," the young Aquino said in an interview on her Sunday afternoon talk show.

"If Dad is holding your hand, that means gusto ka niyang dalhin sa langit [he wants to bring you to heaven]," she said.

"That was the first time I saw my mom smile again, [there was] an aura of peace," Kris said, adding, "I could hear her say 'Ninoy' over and over again."

Sometime after her surgery in April, Kris said the former president told her eldest sister, Maria Elena Aquino-Cruz: "I'm ready to join dad."

To which, Kris said, her sister replied: "We're not ready."

When she was in pain, the former leader, according to Kris said: "Gusto ko na umuwi [I want to come home]."

The young Aquino said she knew that when her mother said that she wanted to come home, she knew her mother wanted "to join God."

The former president tried hard not to cry in front of her children, Kris said.

"It's hard to see your mother cry, knowing you can do nothing," she said.

Eldest grandson remembers Aquino

Former president Corazon Aquino's eldest grandchild remembers her more as a doting grandmother, aside from being a champion of democracy.

"To me she wasn't a president or a hero, she was my lola [grandmother]," Jiggy Aquino-Cruz, eldest son of Aquino's daughter, Balsy, told reporters during the first night of her wake at the La Salle Greenhills gymnasium.

Cruz said that he and his cousins saw the former president as their "second mother" who took care of them whenever their parents were out of the country.

The last time the family spoke to Aquino, Cruz said her last word was "family."

"My tita [aunt] asked her, 'Mom, what do you want?' and he said 'family,'" Cruz said.

Aquino, who led a popular revolt in 1986 that restored democracy in the country died at 3:18 a.m. Saturday at the Makati Medical Center, following a year-long battle with colon cancer. She was 76

"All of us were there. We prayed the rosary then we heard mass," said Cruz, who served as the family's spokesman while his grandmother was sick.

When asked if their family was prepared for the former president's friend, Cruz said: "You can never really say that you are prepared for death but in our family, we were thankful that we were given the time to, to spend as much time as we can with our lola."

"It's a blessing that God us more than a year and it made us a whole lot closer to one another," he said.

Daughter Kris was Aquino's nurse

Former president Corazon Aquino's "crisis baby" Kris Aquino-Yap has done her mother proud.

Kris, 38, stayed close to her mother until the end.

Aquino's youngest daughter stood by while undertakers prepared the former President's remains at the Heritage Park in Taguig City

"She came out the strongest among them," according to a family friend, who witnessed the five Aquino siblings in crisis.

According to this friend, Kris attended to her mother's bedside needs like a professional nurse.

She was also the first one to embrace the former President after each radiation therapy.

Kris was such a good nurse, her eldest sister Ballsy endearingly called her "Florence Nightingale."

"She performed the duties of a real nurse. She was in control," the family friend said.

Deedee Siytangco, Aquino's spokesperson in Malacañang, said that Kris and her siblings, Maria Elena "Ballsy" Cruz, Aurora Corazon "Pinky" Abelleda, Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III and Victoria Eliza "Viel" Dee "drew strength from each other."

The former President died early Saturday morning after more than a year of battling cancer of the colon.

Aquino was diagnosed with cancer in March 2008. When the family first announced her illness early last year, they did not say what stage Aquino's cancer was at.

On June 24, the former President was confined at the Makati Medical Center and was reported to be in "serious condition."

Last month, Kris revealed on her TV show that her mother had stage 4 colon cancer and was in "pain.'' She also said she was taking a leave from TV hosting and appearances to be with her mother.

A highly paid TV host and product endorser, Kris was born in the midst of a "major crisis" in the family.

Her father, Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr., was an opposition senator. Six months after Kris was born on Feb. 14, 1971, a grenade exploded at the political rally of the Liberal Party, wounding some of her father's partymates. (Aquino, who was not present when the blast occurred, was at one time even blamed for it.)

On Sept. 21, 1972, President Ferdinand Marcos placed the country under martial law and ordered the arrest of all opposition politicians, including Ninoy Aquino.

At age five, Kris wooed the crowds as a precocious stand-in for her father who campaigned for the 1978 Batasan Pambansa elections from his detention cell in Fort Bonifacio.

In 1980, Marcos allowed Ninoy Aquino to undergo heart by-pass surgery in the US. The Aquinos moved to Boston where they lived for three years. It was here where Kris finally got to know her father.

For Cory Aquino, Kris was always her "baby."

Every August 21, the Aquino family and friends would gather at the grave of Ninoy at the Manila Memorial Park for mass.

After Kris joined show biz, her attendance at intimate family affairs was almost always covered by media. Her mother seemed not to mind. If at all, she seemed to enjoy Kris' celebrity status.

At the August 2004 memorial mass, Aquino was anxiously searching the crowd for Kris, who showed up in a light yellow blouse and tight jeans which were ripped at the knees.

The usually soft-spoken former President exclaimed with joy: "Look at you, your jeans are torn," as she extended her arms to embrace Kris.

Cory charmed Times Street neighbors

A few years back, Juanita Sy, a resident of Times Street in Quezon City, was surprised to hear soft knocks on her gate. She was even more startled to see former President Corazon Aquino standing in front of her house.

The purpose of Aquino's visit – Tita Cory even to her neighbors – was to ask Sy's permission to use her pool so that Aquino's grandson Joshua could play in the cool clean water.

"I was so surprised that a former President was knocking on my door, but it didn't seem so. She was very simple and kind to us," said Sy, who lived next door to the former President.

Sy was peering out from her gate on Saturday to check on the strangers laying flowers and notes in front of No. 25 Times St. where Aquino's house, a modest one-story home, has stood for decades.

As of noon Saturday, more than a dozen yellow flowers, with a couple of red and white roses, were placed at the Aquinos' green gate, protected by a tall tree.

Strangers in expensive-looking vehicles and even tricycles stopped to say prayers and light candles for the former President, despite not having known or met her personally.

Sy, who has lived on Times Street for 10 years, saw how the former the President mingled with her neighbors as an ordinary citizen, without fanfare or special treatment due her as an icon of democracy.

"She even became the sponsor at my child's wedding along with (Quezon City) Mayor (Feliciano) Belmonte (Jr.), because we literally lived next door," she recalled.

Aquino, despite her status as the leader of the country's first people-power revolt, was a generous and pleasant neighbor to others who lived on Times Street and in West Triangle village.

On special occasions like Christmas, Aquino would be the first to send Sy gifts, like her paintings on mugs and fans, along with a hand-written card.

"Nauunahan pa nga niya ako sa pagreregalo [She would send me presents before I did]," Sy said while looking wistfully at the gate next door.

Even in times of grief, the former President was there with Sy to support her with the power of prayer.

"When my husband died in 2002, she went to the wake to visit me. She condoled with me and prayed for me. That is how kind and generous she was," Sy added.

Another resident, Quezon City Councilor Bernadette Herrera-Dy, also recalled how Aquino would visit the wakes of other residents who had passed away to offer her condolences and pray with the family.

At the wake of an elderly and generous resident, Remedios Samala, Aquino even gave a eulogy for her co-parishioner with whom she had worked at the Hearts of Jesus and Mary Parish.

"She was also there during happy times, like fiesta activities. She will attend the event but she will not make a big deal out of it. She hated special treatment," Herrera-Dy said.

The councilor lived a couple of blocks away from the Aquinos but became close to the former President after Herrera-Dy asked Aquino for advice in 2001.

"I was just 25 when I asked her advice if I should run for public office. She even had her picture taken with me so that it would help me in my campaign. And whenever I would see her, she would say, 'Ikaw lang ang pinagbigyan ko ha. Hindi ako pinapahiya ng batang ito [You're the only one I accommodated. You did not let me down],'" she said in an interview.

Herrera-Dy also recalled impromptu breakfasts and dinners at the Aquino home for the neighbors and other friends, as well as Aquino's paintings as Christmas gifts.

Handwritten cards from Aquino were ended with the affectionate "Ninang [godmother] Cory," Herrera-Dy said as Aquino was a sponsor at her wedding.

"I would also write her back 'Ninang Cory' while my parents would address her 'Tita Cory,''' she added.

In return, the Herreras would give Aquino boxes of her favorite ensaymada (cheese- and butter-filled pastry), which the former President would accept with heartfelt gratitude.

"She would even call us up to personally [say] `Thank You,'" Herrera-Dy said.

Her father, Jun Herrera, fondly called Aquino "the mother of perpetual help."

"People here would go to her for help, and she would not refuse. She was a dear co-parishioner and neighbor of ours," the elder Herrera said.

Herrera remembered how activists protesting on Times Street had overlooked the simple, one-story house and instead launched a picket at the grander, bigger house next door.

"But when they realized that the small, modest house was Tita Cory's, they went away in shame. Hers is the most modest house here on Times Street. It doesn't even have a pool," he said.

Herrera added: "Times Street became famous because of her and Ninoy, and whenever I have dealings with foreigners who see my business card and address, they say, 'Oh, you're a neighbor of Cory.'"

Times Street took on an air of solemnity Saturday as strangers and the former leader's neighbors came in two's or three's to offer flowers and prayers at the Aquinos' gate, which distinguished itself from the rest with a marker to martyred former Senator Benigno Aquino Jr.

Edith Collada, a businesswoman from Valenzuela City, came to the house Saturday morning to bring yellow flowers and a wish that Aquino was no longer in pain and now at peace.

"I don't know her personally but I have steadfastly followed her career. She is an icon of democracy and no one can outdo what she has done for her country," she said.

Other sympathizers left hand-written notes in front of the gate, in which they offered condolences to the former President's children.

One note read: "Your mother was not just an inspiration to the Filipino people, but also to us mothers and women. Thank you for the lessons learned."

Another note from a certain Edgardo Aquino thanked the family for helping his ailing mother, and also extended his sympathies to the family.

Cars passing by the Aquinos' home would honk their horns in unison as if to tell the residents their sympathy, while some bystanders tied yellow ribbons to the vehicles' antennas and side mirrors.

For Herrera-Dy, Aquino's presence will be always felt in West Triangle village, where she had carved a niche for herself as an everyday neighbor and parishioner — who just happened to be a former President.

"Finally, she is at peace. And all the more she will be praying for us because she's now closer to God. Even when she's in heaven, she may still be praying for us," she said.

Aquino had beautiful line in US speech

The line that was most applauded in President Corazon Aquino's speech before the US Congress on Sept. 18, 1987, more than a year after she assumed the presidency, came from no less than herself, a lawmaker who wrote the speech disclosed Saturday.

"That beautiful line came from her hand. She was very candid. I think it was the most-applauded," an emotional Makati Representative Teodoro Locsin said in a television interview Saturday morning.

In a separate text message to INQUIRER.net, Locsin said that Aquino was "now with the immortals."

The line Locsin had referred to was the last one in which she thanked America for having provided her, Ninoy and their children the "happiest years of our lives together."

"Three years ago, I said thank you, America, for the haven from oppression, and the home you gave Ninoy, myself and our children, and for the three happiest years of our lives together. Today, I say, join us, America, as we build a new home for democracy, another haven for the oppressed, so it may stand as a shining testament of our two nation's commitment to freedom," Aquino had said and was rewarded with a standing ovation from teary-eyed US legislators.

Locsin said the last paragraph was "still hanging" until the very last minute. It was Aquino who provided the "most beautiful line."

"It was the moment of love she had with Ninoy. . . . There was no politics, nobody telling them to run . . .," Locsin recalled.

Locsin hailed the former President for restoring democracy in the country when she led the people in fighting the dictatorship of the late Ferdinand Marcos.

"It was good to wake up knowing that the night before, the government did not do anything to you," Locsin said.

People Power remembered w/ Cory's death

The death of former President Corazon Aquino has generated renewed interest in the 1986 "People Power" uprising that brought her to power and was beamed around the globe.

Satellite TV coverage of Aquino's battle to avenge her husband's assassination and restore democracy electrified the world and generated support for her cause.

Dramatic images of the slight widow in a yellow dress leading millions of her countrymen against the corrupt dictator Ferdinand Marcos also helped inspire non-violent democratic movements across the world, say observers.

"I think that what happened in the Philippines is not being given enough credit for the overthrow of authoritarian regimes elsewhere in the world like in Eastern Europe and within the Soviet Union itself and elsewhere in Asia," said leading Asian scholar Rodolfo Severino.

"People seem to forget that this wave of enlarged freedoms was really pioneered by the Philippines," said the former diplomat and secretary general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

CNN was just three years old when "Cory" Aquino, who died Saturday after a battle with cancer, was thrust onto the world stage by the murder of her politician husband Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino on August 21, 1983 at Manila International Airport as he was being escorted off a plane by soldiers.

Within months, American, Japanese, and European television networks established a permanent presence in the city and satellite dishes began sprouting on the roof of the historic Manila Hotel.

Aquino's widow, who returned from the United States to bury her husband still dressed in the bloodied white safari suit he wore when he was shot, became the darling of the international media, and Marcos the villain.

The liberal use of Roman Catholic symbols such as the crucifix and images of the Virgin Mary by the pro-Aquino forces made for great TV footage as protests rocked key cities.

Marcos, who ruled the Philippines for two decades, made a fatal mistake when he held snap presidential elections in February 1986 and a reluctant Aquino was persuaded to run against the man she held responsible for her husband's death.

When both sides claimed victory, a military mutiny ballooned into a full-blown rebellion against Marcos.

Aquino supporters including nuns, children, and grandmothers faced off against Marcos's soldiers, who were paralyzed into inaction when confronted by flowers, rosaries—and the presence of foreign media.

Within days, Marcos and his coterie fled to the United States after it became clear that international opinion—and diplomatic recognition—had swung in favor of a revolutionary government led by Aquino.

Aquino was famous as a democracy icon years before the world came to know of Aung San Suu Kyi's struggle in Myanmar and witnessed images of the anonymous Chinese individual standing defiantly before a tank near Tiananmen square.

"She was the template for the avenging daughter which we saw in Pakistan and Burma (Myanmar). Secondly, she highlighted the importance of women to democratization," said Bruce Gilley, an assistant professor of political science at Portland State University who specializes in Asian politics.

"Few countries democratize successfully without having a woman or women included in the democratic leadership. Women represent a break with the patriarchal traditions associated with authoritarian rule. That's why they are so often at the head of democracy movements," he said.

The impact of "People Power" reached well beyond Asia.

In the late 1980s, democratic fever swept across Eastern Europe as the Soviet Union disintegrated. In Czechoslovakia the "Velvet Revolution" swept dissident writer Vaclav Havel to the presidency.

Havel himself has publicly cited the Philippines' example as an inspiration for democratic movements worldwide.

Cory's hairdresser pays tribute

Filipina flu fatality back from HK today

The body of the first Filipino overseas worker who died of Influenza (A)H1N1 in Hong Kong will be flown back to the country on Monday, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

Alleged communist rebel leaders falls

Authorities arrested an alleged communist leader in the southern city of Cagayan de Oro Saturday night, a regional police commander said.

Alfredo Mapano alias Paris, the alleged regional secretary of the New People's Army's North Central Mindanao Regional Committee was collared by joint police and military operatives at the Middleton Apartelle at around 8 p.m., said Chief Superintendent Danilo Empedrad, Northern Mindanao police chief.

Mapano, who carried a P5.6-million bounty for his capture, was served several arrest warrants for murder, frustrated murder, robbery, and damage to property, Empedrad said. 

A laptop, two mobile phones, and several documents were seized from Mapano, who was brought to the Maharlika Detention Center.

12 Cotabato women sold their kidneys

At least 12 women in the Cotabato town of M'lang were each lured with P200,000 to sell their kidneys to human organ smugglers, said Cotabato Representative Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza.

Plane carrying 16 missing in Indonesia

A plane carrying 16 people went missing in a mountainous area of Indonesia's restive Papua province on Sunday.

Pacquiao condoles with Aquino family


'Hawaiian punch' returns to Hawaii

BRIAN Viloria stakes his IBF Light Flyweight title against Mexican Jesus Iribe on August 30 in a showdown that marks the champion's first fight in Hawaii in six years.

3 Filipinos bag medals in China math tilt

Three high school students from an award-winning math guild won for the country a silver and two bronze medals in the recently concluded 6th China Southeast Mathematical Olympiad (CSMO) in Nanchang.

More rains threaten Aquino funeral

A low pressure area east of Luzon could develop into a tropical depression and dump more rains on the wake of President Corazon Aquino, the state weather bureau said.

Inquirer Editorial: Eternal flame

When the light of Cory Aquino's life, flickering as it had been, in the final, painful, month of her hospital seclusion, was finally extinguished, the country had been, in a sense, expecting it.

Yet the news was still received with shock; and grief has settled over the nation, uniting rich and poor, old and young, partisan and the apathetic, men and women, soldiers and civilians.

Unity is a rare thing in our country; we have it now; and adding to the feelings of grief is the wistful realization that it took the passing of Cory to reunite a divided nation.

With trembling voice, Jawaharlal Nehru in 1948 had informed his people of the passing of Mahatma Gandhi with these immortal words: "The light has gone out of our lives and there is darkness everywhere." There was no single great national figure to inform the country of Cory's passing; instead, a quiet announcement came from her grief-stricken son, and there began the passing on of the news, and the sharing of fond memories.

It is only fitting that the Filipina who tried to institutionalize active non-violence in our bloodstained political culture inspired a similar sense of loss among Filipinos as that expressed by Nehru. Gandhi inspired Cory's husband; and what Ninoy set out to do, she continued after his cruel murder. Non-violence has been, ever since, the dominant means to accomplish change in our country—a revolution in thought, accomplished by prayers, marches, candlelight vigils.

"The light that has illumined this country for these many years will illumine this country for many more years," Nehru went on to say, "and a thousand years later, that light will be seen in this country and the world will see it and it will give solace to innumerable hearts."

What was that light? It was the small but steady flame of personal conviction and conscience that never flickered even when the country and those she considered her nearest and dearest shunned her—ignoring her, even castigating her, because her husband chose to endure imprisonment rather than submit to the dictator.

It was a light that comes from a faith that led her to kneel, not in submission or surrender to the brutality and blandishments of the dictatorship, but to scrub the cell of her imprisoned husband on the rare occasions she was able to visit him; and which continued to bring her to her knees, in quiet contemplation and prayer, as she and her husband went into exile and then, in the years after his death, when his cause became hers to take up.

It was the light of liberty, the unquenchable flame of democracy, the light of optimism and faith in the Filipino, snuffed out in her husband's case by an assassin's bullets, but which lit so many more little flames, so that it dispelled the darkness that had engulfed the country since 1972. It was a light that could not be extinguished by coups and natural disasters, by the mocking of those who saw in her, merely a woman, merely a widow, merely a person trying to return power where it belonged—in the people's hands, to do with as they chose.

Cory Aquino's inner light came to the fore once more, after she relinquished power—the only president in our history who never actively sought power but actively sought to relinquish it, fully and on time, once she had that power. It made her stand up whenever democracy was imperiled; she was applauded for it, and jeered for it; others still could not understand what was so clear to her. That incomprehension was born of such critics never having fully understood that inner light, which never required the active quest for popularity that marks the mere politician.

This was the light we took from Ninoy and Cory, which we passed from candle to candle, as we all proclaimed it would be better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. This was the light that was celebrated in our supreme moment of national redemption and vindication.

But for now, hearts are heavy; and there will take place the final series of farewells, from the humble to the great panoply of the honors of State; but throughout, we shall be—as she was—bringers and nurturers of the light, a light that shall never go out so long as the love of liberty burns brightly in our hearts—as it now, eternally, does in Cory's and Ninoy's.

As for the rest—the pomp and circumstance that surround the passing of a former head of state—her final wishes as expressed by her family are instructive. The cannons of the military boomed their hourly salute; the flags will be lowered to half staff; a simple guard of honor will keep vigil. But as for everything else, the pomp Ferdinand Marcos craved from embittered exile, Cory with utter simplicity declined. Her sole accompaniment as she goes to her final resting place beside her beloved Ninoy will be those for whom Ninoy died and for whom she lived: we, the people, without distinctions as to protocol, or station in life. As in 1983, so it is in 2009: Cory, the people, together to demonstrate that the real power, glory and honors are not for officialdom to bestow, but instead, the Filipino people's to freely give. And as it was in 1986 so it is now: united, in the streets, in remembrance and democratic dedication to our eternal flame, our Cory. So let these days of mourning be days of commemoration, of savoring, however briefly, that long-elusive sense of national unity we must aspire to always. And let us march, as we had marched,—not merely to bid farewell, but to continue along the path from which too many have strayed: the path of an uncompromising, stubborn, dedication to the fight for liberty.


Ted Turner  - "Sports is like a war without the killing."

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