Let us all find our inner peace - Cory

SPORTS FOR ALL - Philip Ella Juico () - July 22, 2009 - 12:00am

A lot of people may not immediately associate the country’s historic sports achievements and sports events with President Corazon C. Aquino. The fact remains however that President Cory’s pivotal role in Philippine sports should be acknowledged as writing the history of Philippine sports continues.

It was President Cory who signed Republic Act (RA) 6847 which created the Philippine Sports Commission. Among the many who participated in finalizing the bill and/or contributed ideas to the finished product were then Senator Joey Lina and Congressmen Concoy Chavez and Jose Cojuangco Jr and Lito Puyat who was an assemblyman in the Batasang Pambansa or parliament during the authoritarian rule of Ferdinand Marcos.

That parliament was the predecessor of the two Houses of Congress which reconvened after free elections were held shortly after the EDSA People Power Revolution. Congress was shut down by Marcos upon his declaration of martial law on September 21, 1972.

To the credit of House Speaker Ramon V. Mitra Jr and Senate President Jovito R. Salonga, the PSC law was passed in time for the hosting by the Philippines/Manila of the SEA Games in 1991, the last year of President Cory’s six-year term that started in 1986.

The 1991 SEA Games was the first Games hosted by the Philippines after 1981. The PSC took over from Gintong Alay (Golden Offering) which was created initially for the athletics sport during Marcos’s martial law regime.

President Cory opened the Games in December 1991. It was the PSC’s baptism of fire. The PSC got a lot of help from the Department of Tourism in ensuring the success of the games. The PSC was then headed by its first chairman, Cecilio Hechanova, and the latter, by Secretary Peter D. Garrucho Jr.

Due to the hard work of the PSC, the DOT and a number of other government agencies and the support of the private sector in financing the Games, Pres Cory’s administration passed the test with flying colors. The performance of the Filipino athletes gave the nation a lot to cheer about during those 10 glorious days. A number of venues were bursting at the seams as hordes of flag-waving Filipinos rooted for the country’s bets.

The Philippines captured 91 gold medals to finish second in the overall standings. Indonesia, then the SEA Games power, squeaked through with 92 gold medals. The deciding medal was won by Indonesia in the women’s marathon race held in the early morning of the last day of the biennial sports festival.

The Philippines’ outstanding and best ever performance then in the SEA Games, was fashioned as the country was still reeling from the devastating effects of the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in June 1991, the killer quake in 1990 that resulted in hundreds of fatalities in Baguio and other parts of Luzon, typhoons which pounded the country with disastrous regularity and power grabs through attempted coups.

Instead of all these natural and man-made calamities dampening the spirit of the Filipino, the whole nation united to produce what has been dubbed the “Miracle of 91”, in reference to 91 gold medals in the 1991 SEA Games.

Pres Cory, who remains a PBA, NBA and UAAP basketball fan even as she bravely battles colon cancer at the Makati Medical Center, is credited, together with her long-time ally, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr, with institutionalizing the funding of the annual Palarong Pambansa.

This act of good governance finally put a stop to the highly irregular and shameful practice of many years of compelling teachers to shell out some of their hard-earned and meager salaries to help fund the annual school sports meet.

It is for the above reasons, and much more, that, in gratitude and as an expression of concern, we have been religiously attending, since July 1, masses for the healing of Pres. Cory. The first of these masses was initiated by my wife, Margie, former appointments secretary of Pres Cory, after she got permission from Fr. Jun Sescon to hold the masses at the Shrine of the Sto Nino de Paz in Greenbelt.

Margie wrote the first version of the novena prayer used at the Greenbelt masses. She later asked Makati congressman Teddy Boy Locsin to enhance the original version. The final product was a prayer which only a very few like Locsin, who has accompanied the Ninoy/Cory Aquino family in confronting the many trials that came its way all these years, can produce with so much compassion, elegance and reverence.

As we write this column, one of the more recent healing masses we attended was at La Salle Green Hills (LSGH), organized by the LSGH Alumni Association. Perhaps, one of the most touching responses of the Aquinos to the outpouring of prayers from all over the world for Pres Cory was the one delivered by Pres Cory’s eldest grandchild, Ateneo alumnus, Jiggy Cruz (son of Eldon, a Lasallian, and Assumption alumna, Ballsy Aquino-Cruz).

The response, entitled “Let us all Find Our Inner Peace”, begins with Jiggy noting that “over the last couple of years, the La Salle Brothers have time and again stood by her (Pres Cory’s) side as she constantly sought the elusive truth about controversial issues that are like “malignant tumors” that are causing further damage to our already morally sick nation.”

Jiggy continues to say, “Beyond that, the La Salle Brothers have always opened their doors for freedom-loving and truth-seeking Filipinos. They have provided us all a sanctuary in this campus - a sanctuary that brings us all in prayer.”

Recalling his Lola’s reflections on his Lolo Ninoy’s assassination, Jiggy shares the following words uttered by Pres Cory on Ninoy’s 15th death anniversary on August 21, 1998, “I believe, we as a people must consciously and deliberately find our inner peace. For it is that inner peace that I feel we can be transformed to be more courageous, persevering and selfless”.

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