‘We have always stood by each other’

PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez - The Philippine Star

President Cory Aquino’s youngest daughter Kris said Saturday that through thick and thin, the Aquino orphans have stood by each other.

“I’m sure Mom is super happy in heaven because we fulfilled our promise to her. Our promise was simple: that we wouldn’t fight, that we would help each other and love each other. At nagawa po namin ‘yan (And we did it!)!” Kris said after a Mass by Cory’s tomb at the Manila Memorial Park celebrated by her mother’s spiritual adviser, Fr. Catalino Arevalo, SJ, to mark Cory’s sixth death anniversary. The Mass was concelebrated by Fr. Manny Domingo and Fr. Joy Tajonera.

Though the sisters dropped everything to campaign for their brother in 2010,  they are choosing to keep mum for now on political preferences for 2016. But Ballsy Cruz stressed at a press forum at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza last week that she will respect her brother’s choice for the presidential polls of 2016.

Kris said their family isn’t perfect, but it is united.

“I think you’ll allow me to share with all of you that since losing our mom — we’re not perfect, but we can say never kaming nag-away. And that’s a big deal. I think in the Philippines, we hear stories of families who don’t get along. The fact that those of us who are in the limelight have managed to stay united since our mom died, it is a big deal,” added Kris, known in the country as the “Queen of All Media.” She has endorsement contracts that do not expire till at least 2017, the year after her brother’s presidency ends.

She described her oldest sister Ballsy Cruz as “super caring, super sharing, so selfless.”

Her second sister Pinky Abellada is also selfless, she added. Kris confided that Pinky texted her when she learned that their brother President Aquino was not feeling well: “Maybe we’ve been selfish, maybe it’s time to pray he’ll find a real partner in life, because it’s sad to be alone.”

P-Noy quipped later on that his blood pressure rose during the irrepressible Kris’ short talk, then stabilized only after she returned to her seat.

Kris described her sister Viel Dee, the most private of all the Aquino girls, as also very considerate, so hesitant to impose on others.

“Viel texted me this morning because our dinner tonight is going to be my treat. She said ‘May gusto akong i-invite, ako na magbabayad for them.’ I said ‘I can afford it, Viel. You can invite anybody you want.’ Viel said, ‘I know you’re gonna say I’m so weird, but please let me share’.”

That trait Viel got from her mother Cory, who refused to let the state pay for any of her personal dinner or lunch functions and would foot the bill for airfare whenever her children accompanied her on official visits abroad.

Turning to her brother, Kris repeated what she had texted him the Thursday before, “You will never ask me or impose on me, you are that type of person, but if the timing is right and whenever you should need me, for you I will always be there.”

According to Kris, her brother texted back, “With all the sincerity I can muster, I truly appreciate all the concern and the love.”

 Asked to deliver the closing remarks before the small crowd that gathered before Cory and Ninoy’s yellow flower-bedecked tombs, the President said, “I feel, in a sense, renewed whenever I get to visit both my parents and grandparents. So many memories have been brought up.”

He said from hard times, the country is now experiencing “harvest time.”

 “All of the efforts are really bearing fruit for most of our brethren. So again, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. You will have to say that when our parents look down on us, even our grandparents, they will say all the trials and tribulations they had in raising us might have been worth it. Again, I have to reiterate, none of the things that had been done were done by a single individual. It’s always been ‘we,’ working for everybody.”

Jesuit priest hopes Cory is beatified

Fr. Catalino Arevalo, SJ also encouraged those who believed in the deep spirituality of Cory to work for her beatification. He said that the process of beatification begins six years after the death of a person with extraordinary Christian virtues.

“You know in the process of canonization in the Church, they usually wait six years before a first step is allowed to be taken. Then after six years, in the diocese of where the person was born, the bishop is the one who starts instituting the process. No, I’m not saying that I’m asking you to institute the process but many people have come to me and asked me, who are the heads of state whose causes are being — whose process (for beatification) has begun. They are Julius Nyerere of Tanzania and King Baudouin of Belgium. So I said why not? If there are two other heads of state whose causes are being pushed for beatification, I cannot make the decision on whether she will be beatified. From what I know of Tita Cory, I see no difficulty whatsoever and I think that we should start thinking of the possibility of starting a process ourselves.”

I know that Cory, after a visit to Assisi after her presidency was so struck by the life of St. Francis, who asked God for more sufferings.

When she got back to the hotel, Cory got down on her knees and prayed, “Lord, I don’t think I’ll ask for more sufferings. But if more sufferings come my way, I will not complain.”

And she was always true to her prayer. “Jesus Christ came down to earth to suffer and die, and we should also ask ourselves why we have been put on earth, and it is to fulfill God’s mission for us,” she told me shortly after she learned she had colon cancer.

Father Arevalo recalled, “Ninoy and Cory made a deliberate offer of their lives, not wanting suicide or anything like that, but offering it really for their people. And that’s why we honor them and why nothing that people will ever say, nobody can take that away. They offered their lives deliberately for our country and for their people and in the end, God asked it of them.

“We sometimes exaggerate what the saints were like. They were very fine people; the main thing is that they can be held up as examples through deep Christian living, especially in their dedication towards God and in their dedication towards people; their neighbors — the neighbor, who is in special need of help. So I would urge some of you who may have some ways that a really good biography on Cory is started. At least the research is started and perhaps some people can start thinking of her as a Christian. How she lived as a Christian, how she practiced the virtues and values of the gospel very deeply in her life. And the values of the Gospel come down to the two commandments, which are: Love the Lord, thy God, with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy strength and the second is, I shall love thy neighbor as thy self. And Jesus simplified those commandments into one: love one another as I have loved you; greater love than this no one has that he lay down his life for his friends.” (You may e-mail me at [email protected].)


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