Remembering Cory: ‘History and Her Story’ unveiled
Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) - August 5, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - “This is always an emotional time of the year,” President Aquino said yesterday during the opening of “History and Her Story,” a commemorative exhibit on the fifth death anniversary of his mother Corazon at the Glorietta Activity Center in Makati City.

The exhibit gives a rare glimpse into Cory’s life – from her school years at the St. Scholastica’s College to her marriage to former senator Benigno Jr. or Ninoy to the 1986 people power revolution that changed her life and the country’s history in the process.

“History and Her Story” also revisits Mrs. Aquino’s years as the first female president of the country, with exclusive photographs from her personal close-in photographer, Val Rodriguez, as well as the collections of the Aquino Center and Museum and the Ninoy and Cory Foundation.

Aquino told the audience, composed mainly of family and close friends, that his feelings and that of his family were surely being experienced also by millions of Filipinos whose lives were touched by his parents.

Cory died of cancer on Aug. 1, 2009 while Ninoy was assassinated on Aug. 21, 1983 or three years before the People Power revolution.

“It is the time when we can’t help but remember everything they stood for, whether it was the strength and hope they displayed in the face of overwhelming odds, especially during the height of Martial Law, or their compassion and integrity in serving the Filipino people,”Aquino said.

“Indeed, occasions like these are a source of new strength for us. They help recharge our hearts and souls, allowing us to go back in time to revisit the challenges and trials that my parents encountered,” he added.

Through it, Aquino said they were endowed once more with the confidence that as long as they followed their example and always offered their best for the benefit of the country and fellowmen, they would find a way to overcome any trial.

“On more personal note, the examples they have set always come as a great source of comfort. In the loneliest hours of decision-making, when all I have for company are my thoughts, when I ponder multiple courses of action to respond to issues, it is the memory of my parents that always guides me back to the fundamental question: How will I best serve the Filipino people?” Aquino said.

When his father came home for the last time, Aquino said he wrote in his last statement that authentic service required two things: “Faith in our people and faith in God.”

“My dad built his relationship with God in the loneliness of his prison cell. Mom derived her strength during dad’s imprisonment and during the fight to restore democracy from her absolute faith in our loving Creator. It is that divine part that gives each one of us the potential to light a candle rather than curse the darkness. Today, we are living in an era of daylight,” Aquino said.

“As the late Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, who so admired my parents, liked to say: ‘Sunlight is the best disinfectant’,” Aquino noted.

As the Filipinos work together to make change irreversible in the land, Aquino said it was the contrast between the shadowy practices of the past and the openness and honesty being encouraged in each other now that would make the country’s tomorrow that much brighter because it would bring opportunities to all.

“For my elders, let me thank you for standing with us even when so many were too frightened or indifferent to care about the prisoners of the dictatorship. Thank you for keeping faith with us when we were faced with difficulties, whether it was during my father’s struggle against the dictatorship, the coups during my mother’s administration or the years after her presidency,”Aquino said.

“To all who have joined me in our fight for reforms, thank you for lending me your strength. At the same time, we realize that this event is also geared towards a new generation of Filipinos – those who never had the good fortune of meeting my parents. This reminds me of a quote from George Sta. Ana: ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it’,” he said.

As inheritors of the democracy won through the sacrifices of countless Filipinos, his parents included, Aquino said everyone has the responsibility of helping young Filipinos understand the lessons of the past.

One way of doing this is through sharing these photographs that depict his parents not merely as faces on P500 bills but as living, breathing human beings who were not free from faults and moments of self doubt, but who still persisted because they knew that the “Filipino is worth living for and dying for,” Aquino said.

The President said he was certain that the pictures in the exhibit would remind the people of many stories they had not heard in a while.

“Please share them with a new generation of Filipinos. Through this exhibit and your stories, those who never encountered my parents will gain valuable insight about how they lived their lives and why they mean so much to the Filipino nation,”Aquino said.

“Through you, a new generation will take on the challenge not to let Ninoy and Cory down and our people down; and to live up to the best ideals of our people, to ensure that there will always be those prepared to demonstrate that the Filipino is worth fighting for,” Aquino stressed.

He said he had thicker hair in some of the photographs and thanked Glorietta mall owner Fernando Zobel de Ayala for the exhibit, along with PeopleAsia and STAR president and chief executive officer Miguel Belmonte.

“Fernando, there has been so many changes here. To those of my generation who remember Glorietta as Quad, welcome back to Quad. But perhaps, the best memories are these, I do remember, it was an Ayala Foundation publication that first published pictures of my father after his assassination. I think we all remember that the mainstream press tried so much to ignore both my father’s assassination and more importantly his funeral,”Aquino said.

“There was Ayala, ready to bear the wrath of the dictatorship, standing with the people to whom they have really demonstrated its service. Whenever I grace a PeopleAsia event or a STAR event, I cannot help but remember (STAR founder) Betty Go-Belmonte. To be honest with you, the first time I saw Tita Betty, I wasn’t even sure she was Filipina because she was the publisher of the Fookien Times Yearbook. But to be honest with you, it truly was a blessing to have met a lady such as her and I think it is really a blessing for our people that at the most critical times, the Filipino will truly rise up and do what is right in the service of his fellowmen,”Aquino said.

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