Gone too soon
PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero-Ballescas (The Freeman) - August 22, 2019 - 12:00am

Many genuine Filipino servant-leaders were taken away in the month of August. Their common denominator: they offered their selfless love and service for God, our people, country, and planet.

On the first of August, 2009, Corazon Aquino (1933-2009), the first-ever female president of this country, succumbed to cancer. She was 76. Millions of grieving Filipinos lined the streets from Manila to Parañaque to express their appreciation and gratitude to “a woman of deep and unwavering faith” and one with “courageous commitment to the freedom of the Filipino people.”

Her husband, Benigno Aquino Jr. (1932-1983), was assassinated in 1983 on the 21st of August, during the regime of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos. He was only 51 then. This great man who was gone too soon believed that “we cannot go to a road of violence because violence will only beget more violence” and that “the Filipino is worth dying for.”

He would have been a president of this country; alas, he was gone too soon before he could share more of his love and commitment to our country. Millions of Filipinos attended his funeral in the midst of their anger vs the dictator Marcos whom they toppled three years after in February1986.

Oh, if only more Filipinos now would remember his love for them and this country: “I have returned on my free will to join the ranks of those struggling to restore our rights and freedoms through nonviolence. I seek no confrontation. I only pray and will strive for a genuine national reconciliation founded on justice.” These portions of his 1983 speech, undelivered because of his assassination, continue to ring true and are still relevant today:

“Rather than move forward, we have moved backward. The killings have increased, the economy has taken a turn for the worse and the human rights situation has deteriorated.”

Quoting Archibald Macleish’s words, “How shall freedom be defended? By arms when it is attacked by arms; by truth when it is attacked by lies; by democratic faith when it is attacked by authoritarian dogma. Always, and in the final act, by determination and faith.” Ninoy Aquino bade farewell to the Filipinos, in his undelivered speech, with these words, “I return from exile and to an uncertain future with only determination and faith to offer -- faith in our people and faith in God.”

Jesse Robredo (1958-2012) would also have been this country’s president had he not taken that fatal plane ride on the 18th of August, 2012. Known for his “tsinelas leadership,” he brought selfless service, transparency and accountability, sincerity and humility as Naga mayor and as DILG secretary. His wife, Leni, is now continuing his exemplary legacy as vice president of our country.

Gone too soon. Gina Lopez (1953-2019) joined Cory, Ninoy Aquino and Jesse Robredo last August 19. She was 65. Like a breath of fresh air, she made us believe and sing these words with her:

“If I can see it, then I can do it. If I just believe it, there's nothing to it. I believe I can fly, I believe I can touch the sky, I think about it every night and day, spread my wings and fly away, I believe I can soar, I see me running through that open door. There are miracles in life I must achieve. But first I know it starts inside of me.”

God assigned her to be His warrior for His planet and His children through her Bantay-Kalikasan and Bantay-Bata advocacies. Gina, who knew and practiced “the meaning of true love,” is now back home with God,” leaning on everlasting arms.

CORAZON AQUINO
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