Cory’s magic lives on

NEW BEGINNINGS - The Philippine Star

Six years after her death, Cory Aquino is still very much alive in the consciousness of the Filipino people. She is remembered with fondness, love and gratitude. For how can a nation not be grateful to her when she helped restore democracy in the land?

At the special Bulong Pulungan forum at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza last Wednesday, The “Woman in Yellow” was honored yet again with the Philippine Postal Corp.’s launch of the second series of Cory Aquino floral paintings scented stamps. PHLPost Postmaster General Josie dela Cruz said it was the “11th stamp that’s connected to Mrs. Aquino. She is the only one ever in the history of the PHLPost that a stamp has been printed in memory of.”

“As President Cory metamorphosed from a housewife to a statesperson, to a patriot, to mother of her country, so did her paintings,” said PHLPost chair Cesar Sarino. He added, “In her paintings, she began with flowers in a pot, then flowers in the garden, flowers in the wilderness, then she added a rosary in her flower paintings, and later, simple Filipino faces. The PHLPost is mighty proud to immortalize her. Through these national stamps, we hope she will always be remembered. This is our humble expression of respect and affection.”

Presidential sisters Ballsy Cruz and Pinky Abellada, who were present at the launch, lent their favorite Cory artworks of different flowers for the issuance of these special scented stamps. Philip Sison, upon the recomendation of Ballsy, was commissioned to take photos of the paintings. The photographs he took became the basis of PHLPost in producing the stamps.

About 400,000 copies in four designs of the special scented stamps were printed using unwatermarked paper and floral scented ink.

PHLPost increased the number of scented stamps printed this year due to the very warm reception to the first series of 200,000 stamps issued last year. The designs of last year’s stamps were based on the Cory paintings lent by her friends STAR president and CEO Miguel Belmonte, businessman Manny Pangilinan, PEZA director general Lilia de Lima and Metrobank chair George Ty.

* * *

At the forum, Ballsy remembered her mom’s reservation to pick up the brush after her stint in Malacañang. “Mom told me, ‘How can I paint when I cannot even draw’?” Ballsy recalled. But she painted anyway under the guidance of teacher Jeffrey Consumo. She painted flowers and soon, with the more than a hundred paintings she did, she created a garden of blooms, which she gave away as gifts to her family and friends. Even to the Sultan of Brunei among other foreign dignitaries.

When Cory had created a few of her artworks, she told Ballsy, “It (her artwork) may not look anything now, but when I die…” True enough, a Cory Aquino artwork is in demand among collectors. But, according to Deedee Siytangco, the late President’s spokesperson and friend, “no one likes to part with his or her Cory Aquino painting.”  

“Mrs. Aquino was an excellent student. From the time we started on April 17, 1996, she was never absent in our class every Wednesday held at the Cojuangco residence in Forbes Park, at 3 p.m., for two years, from 1996 to 1998,” said Jeffrey of his expressionist art student.

 “Painting relaxed mom, especially in the evening,” said Pinky, the artist in the family, according to Ballsy.

“I really wanted to take Fine Arts in college but Dad said gugutumin ka lang sa Fine Arts. I’m glad I took Economics,” Pinky added with a chuckle. But the artist Pinky did not pursue is the artist that bloomed on the canvas of Cory.

* * *

Cory painted both dainty and robust flowers. Their fragrance seemed to leap out of the canvas. She also painted on wooden plates, flat stones and bags. Like the bag Allure editor and PeopleAsia editor-in-chief Joanne Rae Ramirez carried that day. Joanne was a close-in writer of Mrs. Aquino at Malacañang. When asked at the forum about her recollection of Mrs. Aquino, Joanne quipped: “How much time do I have?” For truly, Joanne, a “family to the Aquinos” according to Ballsy and Pinky, has gazillion bytes of memory about the late Icon of Democracy.

“She will always be remembered for her simplicity and moral values. For lunches at Malacañang commemorating Ninoy’s death anniversaries, she always paid from her private funds. Even the plane fare of her companions when she traveled abroad,” Joanne said.

She added: “Mrs. Aquino said that in the end, she will be judged by the Filipino people, not by the press, not by her critics.”

She remembered one proud moment she had with Mrs. Aquino. “It was at the Paris City Hall where she told her audience, ‘I’d rather be loved than be feared.’ She was a symbol of the French ideals of liberty, fraternity and equality.”

For PEZA director general Lilia de Lima, she remains a grateful convert of Cory. “I thank her for two things: for restoring democracy in our country and for convincing me to paint.”

De Lima remembered Cory telling her: “You look so harassed. Why don’t you take painting classes?” She answered: “Ma’am, I can’t paint.” Cory replied: “Yes you can.” Next thing De Lima knew, she was “looking for equally harassed people” who would paint with her and form the sub-group of painting students that Jeffrey would teach. Thanks to Cory, De Lima discovered her prolific knack for painting.

Same thing happened to Teena Sarino, wife of PHLPost chair Cesar Sarino. “I didn’t have the talent for it but she encouraged me to paint. She gave me my first canvas and lent me her brushes and paint.” Soon, the bug hit her and Teena has continued to paint.

Cory is known to inspire people. It’s in her DNA. Her blueprints are marked in the hearts of the grateful Filipino people as they are marked in the artworks that she gave as gifts to many of her friends.

Six years after her death, The “Woman in Yellow” has the unrelenting effect of making people do good for their government, to pray for others, and to continue to be the inspiration this country needs.

The fragrance of her floral paintings still permeates the air. Cory’s magic lives on.

(E-mail me at [email protected]. I’m also on Instagram @bumtenorio. Have a blessed Sunday.)












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