All about Cory
- Leonardo Peña () - July 12, 2009 - 12:00am


Leonardo Peña works as an executive in the pharmaceutical industry. His professional background includes supervisory positions in multinational corporations here and abroad including Toyota and Unilever. He has been going to National Book Store since he was a child, and today happily continues the tradition with his children Tom and Edwin. He lives with his family in Pasay City.

MANILA, Philippines - For her singleness of purpose to serve God and country,” Papal awardee Clara Oben Corpus dedicates her beautifully insightful and spiritual biography Cory to no less than its subject, a woman of exceedingly remarkable character and one of the greatest figures in the history of modern civilization.

Corazon Aquino is the nation’s conscience and embodiment of democratic freedom. Corpus writes: “We have a valiant woman of the Gospel right here with us, a woman of extraordinary courage, frail and defenseless against ‘goons, goons and gold,’ leading us towards liberation. Not by any stretch of the imagination can anything like this be conceived by man. Cory Aquino was very clearly singled out by God and conditioned by Him through marriage with Benigno Aquino and through suffering with him in his incarceration.”

Fr. James Reuter, SJ, in his timeless introduction to this masterwork, says Cory “touches the heart of the matter — Cory Aquino as a woman.”

Cory, Fr. Reuter goes on to say, “has charmed the heads of states in Europe, in the United States, in Asia — not because she is a brilliant executive, but because — as Clara Oben Corpus says so well: She is a simple, honest, gentle Filipina.”

In Cory, “Do not look for political analysis. Do not look for a brain scan of the labyrinthine mind of a chief executive. Look for the portrait of a woman.”

Corpus tells many wonderful stories in Cory, one of which is a seemingly miraculous coincidence in the immediate aftermath of Ninoy’s assassination. It just so happens that Filipino Jesuit priest Fr. Catalino G. Arevalo, professor of theology at the Ateneo de Manila University, was in Boston College when news broke of the shocking event at the Manila International Airport on that fateful day in August 1983.

He was informed by Fr. Leonard Mahoney as he was having breakfast in the community dining room, and was told that the Aquino home was just right across the campus.

 “Could it be an accident, if not a coincidence?” Fr. Arevalo asked Cory upon their first meeting.

Cory said, “It’s neither a coincidence nor an accident, Father, for I had always prayed that if anything like this tragedy should happen to me and my family, a priest we could trust, preferably a Filipino, would be with us to give us support and pray with us during the crisis. You are God’s answer to our prayer.”

Fr. Arevalo looks back at the moment: “It is a source of both wonderment and humility and joy to me that in some way I could be of some ‘use’ to the Lord, and to Cory and her family when they needed a Filipino priest to be with them. It was a sign and assurance that the Lord and Our Lady were on their side. In view of everything else that came later, I am allowed to see the Lord’s finger in all this.”

Speaking of coincidences, Corpus incisively draws parallels between Mary (wife of Joseph and mother of Jesus) and Cory (wife of Ninoy and mother of Kris): Both women nearly share the same name. Cory’s full name is Maria Corazon, and Our Lady’s is venerated as, among others, Sagrado Corazon de Maria — the Sacred Heart of Mary.

Both women have been called, at different times in their lives, Mater Dolorosa. Our Lady was called Mater Dolorosa because of the sufferings and tragic execution of her son, Jesus; and Cory, because of sufferings and tragic assassination of her husband Ninoy.

Both women were “reluctant candidates in a plan of salvation.” Our Lady made her decision to become the mother of the Son of God only after Archangel Gabriel personally assured her of the Holy Spirit’s conception; while Cory made her decision to lead her country as president only after millions and millions of Filipinos clamored for her leadership and guidance.

Both women were widowed. “Thus, both went in alone in their mission of a liberation of a people based on conversion.” Our Lady unceasingly prays for the forgiveness and salvation of her people; and Cory has been doing the exact same thing all of her life.

 “Both were women of the house, yet both were elevated to a place of highest honor: Our Blessed Lady as Queen of Heaven and Earth; Cory as the first woman president of the Philippines acknowledged on a global level with praise and admiration.”

Clara Oben Corpus is the founder of Mother Butler Mission Guilds in 1955, an organization that provides poor churches and missions all the necessary liturgical needs for the celebration of the Eucharistic liturgy. Four years later, in 1959, she founded the Mother Butler Foundation, providing scholastic and financial assistance to seminarians studying for the priesthood.

Clara O. Corpus was also, along with the many honors she has reaped here and abroad, invested with the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, an award given no less than by the great late Pope John Paul II.

Corpus likewise shares her interviews with various personalities and their memories of Cory, one of whom is Jaime Cardinal Sin. The then Manila Archbishop says he was the ultimate devil’s advocate, so to speak, of Cory’s candidacy and subsequent showdown with Marcos, but relented when he was finally convinced of Cory’s sincerity and courage — and he gave her his blessings.

 “His Eminence predicted that a beautiful thing would happen after the snap election,” writes Corpus. “True enough, something did. It was the EDSA phenomenon. It was the first of the special commemoration of the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the entire year of 1985.”

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