Why Cory prayed daily for Noynoy not to go into politics
WILL SOON FLOURISH - Wilson Lee Flores (The Philippine Star) - November 28, 2015 - 9:00am

What is the legacy of outgoing President Noynoy C. Aquino? What are his administration’s impact on politics, on the Philippines’ need for genuine and sweeping so cio-economic reforms? 

At the Nov. 26 launching of the book The Aquino Legacy: An Enduring Narrative by Philippine STAR columnist Elfred S. Cruz and Neni Sta. Romana Cruz at the Writers’ Bar of Raffles Hotel in Makati City, President Noynoy Aquino and his three sisters, Ballsy, Pinky and Viel, entertained guests made up mostly of their close political allies past and present.

Cory prayed daily at chapel in Makati that her son wouldn’t run

One of the most interesting guests was Margarita “Margie” Penson Juico, the for- mer appointments secretary of the Aquino siblings’ mother, the late President Corazon “Cory” Cojuangco Aquino, for 23 years until she passed away. Margie was also P-Noy’s former Philippine Charity Sweep- stakes Office (PCSO) chairperson.

To better understand President Noynoy Aquino’s politics, I asked Margie if it was the dream of Cory to have her son someday become president of the Philippines. She replied: “No, in fact it was two elections later after she stepped down from the presidency that Noynoy was allowed to run. When he was being asked to run for the Senate, she didn’t even want it. I would accompany her daily to novena prayer at the church in Greenbelt, every day before lunch at the office. We’d walk from the Jose Cojuangco Building to the chapel and she would pray, hoping he wouldn’t run.”

So what happened to make him run? Margie P. Juico said: “Noy and Cory later talked. He said something like ‘para namang nakakalalaki kasi (it’s the manly thing to do because)’... What does that mean? He said: ‘Nakakalalaki ito, kasi people were asking him to run. When people needed you and then if he refused them, he said something about ‘nakakalalaki.’ In fact, Cory went to Mass on the day of the election and when Noy was leading — among the top five — she couldn’t believe it, so nagsimba siya (she went to church), for thanksgiving, if what was happening was true.”

Margie Juico continued: “I think it’s a family trait. Both Noy and his mother Cory had no political ambitions to become president, but were urged to run by others. In 2010, I don’t think Noynoy wanted to run, also like his mother in 1986, but the groundswell (of support) was too much... Minsan nakakaawa (Sometimes I think it’s a pity for them), being drawn into the lime- light, all the political intrigues, and they’re really very private people.”

How did she become such a trusted con- fidante of Cory and her husband Philip Ella Jico served as Cory’s Secretary of Agrarian Reform? Margie Juico explained: “My hus- band was studying at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) and his masteral thesis was the management of a presidential cam-paign and his subject was then Senator Ninoy Aquino... Ninoy wanted so much to be president, but he never made it.”

How would history assess P-Noy, his wins and his shortcomings?

During the book launch, President Noynoy Aquino’s eldest sister Ballsy Aquino Cruz told me she grades her brother’s tenure in Malacañang with an “A.” When I asked Margie Juico to rate the presidency of P-Noy, she responded: “I couldn’t rate him, you know I’ll be biased.” When I turned to the book co-author Elfren S. Cruz and asked him for the top three achievements of Noy, he replied: “First, his instilling of the rule of law; second, the transition of the Philippines’ economy from ‘the sick man of Asia’ into one of the region’s fastest-growing; third, his preparing a legacy as a guide for the future generation.” When I commented that no leaders are perfect and there are, of course, things he has failed to accomplish, asking Cruz to list P-Noy’s top three short- comings, he paused and replied: “Ewan ko (I don’t know)....”
On the same night, Nov. 26, at the annual Writers Night hosted by Likhaan or the University of the Philippines (UP) In- stitute of Creative Writing at UP Diliman’s Executive House, I saw literary luminaries led by National Artist for Literature Prof. Bienvenido Lumbrera and his wife, multi- awarded writer Prof. Jose “Butch” Dalisay who invited me, Prof. Gemino Abad, poets Vim Nadera and Fidel Rillo, novelist Charl- son Ong and many others.

I asked Prof. Butch Dalisay how he as- sesses the legacy of P-Noy, and he replied: “Overall, I’m satisfied with what Noynoy has done, despite his big blind spots. With his circumstances, I think he has tried his best by setting the right tone and with the right poli- cies for national renewal after the trauma we went through after GMA.”

Prof. Butch Dalisay continued: “However, P-Noy has big blind spots, like the most recent example was his response to the “tanim bala” controversy which I think was another major blunder of perception. You don’t answer a problem with those statistics he quoted, it’s like he was saying that only two percent of people get raped so therefore rape is not a problem. I can see that this is his mindset. These blind spots of his, I think his inability or unwillingness to empathize with the or- dinary citizens, he operates on the level of high policy... Yes, he has big blind spots, but overall I’m satisfied with what P-Noy has done as president.”

I rate P-Noy B+ for good intentions, B for actual results

P-Noy has achieved political stability. His foremost claim to fame is his refreshing and laudable anti-corruption crusade dubbed “Daang Matuwid” (the Straight Path), but the challenge is whether or not it will have long- term and systemic effects. His shortcoming is the perception that his political allies and friends could be spared from this much- vaunted anti-corruption dragnet.

The Philippines has enjoyed solid eco- nomic growth, thanks to P-Noy and his economic team continuing the good macro- economic policies of his political nemesis and former Ateneo de Manila University econom- ics professor ex-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. However, like GMA, P-Noy has been criticized for a lack of inclusive economic growth, for high unemployment and low foreign direct investments compared to our ASEAN neighbors.

What more bold socio-economic and po- litical reforms can we still hope for and expect from P-Noy in his last few months in the all-powerful presidency of the Philippines?

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Thanks for your feedback! Email willsoon- flourish@gmail.com or follow WilsonLeeFlores on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and http://willsoon- flourish.blogspot.com/.

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