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Home » Migrated » Message to ADZU

Message to ADZU


Read on 04 August 2009 during the Interreligious Service in her honor
Antonio F Moreno SJ

I am very sorry for my absence in our Ateneo community at this time when our people are in grief over the lost of former President Cory Aquino.  This is due to my meetings connected with the AdMU Board of Trustees and the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus.

Last Sunday afternoon, I had the privilege of paying my last respects to Cory at La Salle Greenhills.  The sight of long queue from La Salle Greenhills all the way to EDSA and back to the entrance of La Salle was very discouraging.  The heat was on and off.  I was tempted to quit.  But I was also challenged.  Since I was already involved in mass actions back in 1983 when Senator Ninoy Aquino was assassinated and all the way to February 1986, I thought this seemingly endless queue was nothing in comparison.

As our queue was slowly inching its way near La Salle Greenhills, I felt good but felt sorry for those who had only started to queue.  The spirit of the people who lined up to view Cory was very Filipino.  Biscuits were offered.  Candies passed on.  People were very patient.  Stories about Cory were narrated.  Jokes shared.  No one reported losing a cell phone or wallet. This was the EDSA spirit in 1986. I felt at home.

I talked to the person next to me.  He came all the way from Calamba, Laguna.  He told me about his experience back during the People Power in 1986.  He brought in his daughter who didn’t have an experience of what it was like during martial law.  He felt he had to come and pay his last respects to Cory.

I didn’t see a lot of youth in their teens or twenties.  Some parents brought in their young kids.  I thought that was a great moment of political catechesis. Many were in their thirties or so, and those who were old enough to witness the events of mid-1980.  Many of our youth do not really know much about Cory, the first EDSA revolution and what it stood for.  And yet Cory made the supreme sacrifice for our nation, especially for our youth.

As we navigated our way into the La Salle Gym, the fatigue did not bother me anymore.  I queued for two hours and a half, but that amounted to nothing.  Ballsy (the eldest daughter of Cory) and the grandchildren of Cory were there welcoming the people with gratitude and shaking their hands.  When she got near me, I mentioned my name and where I come from.  Zamboanga City was close to the heart of Cory.  She visited Carmel in Zamboanga City twice.  The Carmelite nuns prayed for her so intensely.  Ballsy asked me:  “Why did you have to queue, Father?”  I replied:  “Tita Cory will not like it if I got ahead of others.”  I told Ballsy that last week, we had a week of prayer for Cory’s wellbeing and healing in AdZU, and this week is a commemoration of her life and legacy.  She appreciated that.  She thanked me again.

I think we will need to retell the story of Cory’s life and legacy to our people, especially to our youth.  The young do not know her much and what she stood for unlike those who experienced the years of martial law and transition to democracy.  We need to be awakened by her sense of heroism and self-sacrifice for the love of our country.  We need to realize that democracy cannot prosper by default.  Political regression can easily slip in when good citizens do nothing.

“First female Asian President,” “icon of people power,” “champion of democracy,” are but some of the few titles that we associate with Cory.   At the height of authoritarian and national security states reigning all over the world, she showed a path to dismantle dictatorship through moral and spiritual force.  Our bloodless revolution was indeed an inspiration to other countries to tread the path of nonviolent political transformation.  Indeed, the February revolution in 1986 was an inspiration for countries in Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, and others to make their own transition to democracy.

To keep her memory alive, let us continue the work she has done for our country.  In my memo to our academic community yesterday, I wrote: “I wish to express our solidarity with the Filipino people who are mourning the loss of a great leader of democracy. Not only did she lead the country to
oppose the dictatorship, she set the stage for us to reclaim our most cherished dream: democracy.  Let Cory’s life and legacy remain in our lives.  Let us exercise meaningfully our citizenship for our nation.  Her death has united our people just as she did in the run-up to our democratic transition in 1986.  May this unity bear fruit in nation building.”

She indeed captured perfectly what the meaning of our university motto is:  Pro Deo et Patria – all that we are and we do be directed to the service of God and country.  Muchas gracias gayot con Cory.

As our final tribute to Cory, I again urge our Ateneo community to be one with our people by joining Wednesday’s Mass at 9.00 AM, Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, to be led by Archbishop Romulo G Valles, Archbishop of Zamboanga.

Thank you.