Strength and serenity

PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - January 24, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Seven years ago today on her 76th birthday, former president Corazon Aquino, who was battling late stage colon cancer, was the picture of serenity.

“I have lived a full life, I cannot complain,” she calmly told her children Ballsy Cruz, Pinky Abellada, then Sen. Noynoy Aquino, Viel Dee and Kris Aquino. They heard mass in the chapel of a convent along Estrella Street in Makati and then had lunch of pan-fried goose liver salad and spinach mushroom souffle at Chef Jessie’s in Rockwell. For dessert, Cory had a special birthday treat: her favorite dessert White Chocolate Grand Marnier Mousse (which even her Secret Service detail during her US official visit in 1986 knew of).

Her daughter Viel believes the spiritual backbone of their mother, who passed away seven months after her 76th birthday, was the source of her serenity.

“Of all of us, I’d say that I’m the calmest. I believe I got this from Mom, maybe because I saw in her that with faith, we are able to overcome our trials,” says Viel.

This is echoed by her son, now President, who says that when faced with tough times, he just thinks of what his mother Cory and his father Ninoy underwent.

“I think they went through tougher times and made it through. And when I remember those challenges, I tell myself, ‘What is this compared to what they had to do’?” the President said yesterday after a Mass by Cory’s gravesite at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City.

The late president not only suffered through her husband’s seven-year incarceration and assassination; she battled seven coup attempts during her presidency and emerged victorious.

“Whenever PNoy or any of us is faced with heavy burdens, we pray to her for strength,” adds Viel.

“She’s still with us every time we need her. Noy reached this far because of her. To this day, there is nothing I have asked of her that she didn’t answer. I always ask for intercession even sometimes, it’s a shot at the moon, still, there is an answer,” says Ballsy, the eldest child of Cory and Ninoy.

Despite the demands of being a political wife, and eventually, of being president, Cory never relinquished the role of a devoted mother.

“I thank her for being the perfect role mother in being a responsible and loving parent,” says Kris.

“There was no written rule but to this day we live as each other’s keeper... And no one takes advantage of anyone,” shares Ballsy. “We were brought up to be caring and supportive of each other.”

The Aquino sisters always rally around their brother and try their best to be beyond reproach.

“As PNoy nears the end of his term, I thank Mom and Dad for giving him the strength especially during his most difficult times and enabling him to turn over a much improved Philippines compared to the 2010 version,” Pinky says.

“It gives a very calming effect when I know that she won’t abandon us. When I used to get scared because of certain issues, she would say ‘Why are you scared? Where’s your faith? Strengthen your faith’,” adds Pinky.

After Mass, the President went to pray silently by his parents’ tombs, which were bedecked in yellow flowers. He was alone, and his security detail kept a respectful distance. The months till the end of his term won’t be easy, and today will be especially challenging. But as his sister Pinky once said, “Mom has never let us down.”


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