“For one brief shining moment / There was Camelot.” The Broadway song lyric came to mind as kids twirled yellow ribbons at former president Corazon Aquino funeral. . “Will (she) become another of Asia’s political-widow syndrome, as in Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka.” wondered the Economist.
No, Columbia University’s Shiela Coronel wrote in Wall Street Journal “Her ultimate political legacy will continue to be discussed… Even in death, it is likely Cory Aquino will remain the symbol of Filipinos’ hopes.””
Many who slammed Aquino, then and now, tucked tail before the dictator. “Filipinos expected miracles to happen during her presidency,” Sociologist Randy David recalled “The poor expected instant relief from… poverty. The middle classes expected a renewed and functioning government…overnight. After 21 years of oppression, Filipinos wanted freedom without the attendant responsibilities of citizenship.”
So, where do we go from here?
Don’t ask President Arroyo. She found herself diminished at private funeral rites for her towering predecessor. She’s still deciphering what messages, if any, did those waves of people send in their fervent turnout for Cory.’
“The world embraced Edsa 1 in 1986,” the President cautioned at Libingan Ng Mga Bayani on February 22. “The world tolerated Edsa 2 in 2001. The world will not forgive an Edsa 3. Instead, (it’d) condemn the Philippines as a country whose political system is hopelessly unstable.”
The torrent of gratitude and affection for Cory was not Edsa 3. Perhaps, an unplanned but nonetheless telling “referendum”, Inquirer Columnist Rina Jimenez David suggested.
People Power is not just about dispatching dictators It includes securing reforms peacefully. Mahatma Ghandi’s 1930 march to the sea saw the oppressive salt tax scrubbed. People Power can celebrate a life poured out for others that “fragrance filled the whole house.”.
“How lucky we were it was a Cory who led the first post Marcos government ( with ) near-absolute governmental power,” recalls UP professor Raul Pangalangan. She prevailed in Philippine politics without being deformed. “In her we saw a glimpse of our nobler selves and learned there are rare times, in our sad history, when the good guys finished first.”
The Palace, meanwhile, struck a business-as-usual posture In Pampanga, the President handed out P500 million for school repairs. She may bid for an elective post there, some say. If the constitution is keel-hauled before 2010, why she could become the Philippines’ Indira Gandhi. .
From the grave, Cory may have slammed that option shut. Aquino opposed tinkering with the Constitution – and possible extension of terms – before 2010. So do 63 percent or Filipinos, surveys show. “The popular sentiment is not to go against her wishes,” noted Cavite Representative Elpidio Barzaga
In the Lower House, Arroyo’s sons rode shotgun over House Resolution 1109. That would have three-fourths of the House propose changes to the Charter, without the Senate. “Nobody wants to touch it anymore,” Quezon City Rep. Matias Defensor said.
The human wave in yellow identified with Cory’s legacy, Inquirer’s Amando Doronila wrote.. That includes regular and honest elections and limits to term of office, Read the crowds’ lips, Doronila suggested: Tampering with the rules incurs the risk of people hitting the streets again, as in 1986.
Cory provided the example for the transfer of power according to constitutional rules. Indeed, mankind refuses to learn from any other school but example, Edmund Burke once said.
In the snap election, Aquino hammered on a simple theme: She’d be the exact opposite of Ferdinand Marcos. Even her plain dresses, the Economist noted , contrasted with “the stylish Imelda, who was still stuffing the boudoirs of the presidential palace with frocks and furs and shoes, shoes, shoes”.
Like it or not, today’s “presidentiables” sense that Filipinos take their measure against standards Cory set. Among them, do any feel threatened being the “exact opposite of Aquino?
“Why should we feel threatened?”, deputy presidential spokesperson Lorelei Fajardo scoffed. The massive turn out showed “people’s love for the nation.” Can motherhood statements tamp down fear?.
“Those who feel threatened by the legacies of causes (Cory) left will try to minimize the meaning of her role in history,” Columnist Randy David predicted. “In death, Cory will continue to be underestimated.”
Aquino embodied “values that endure even after the sun burns out.”. “These gave her an enduring strength of character which Marcos, rebel colonels, and even at times the Filipino people underestimated”, Coronel adds.. “
The paint on Aquino’s headstone is still wet. Already, politicians bicker over what those “recurrent, widespread and deep” aspirations boiling from the streets mean. An answer may be found in “Theology on Signs of the Times”, written by a young Jesuit in 1972.
“By searching out the great desires of men, we find out what is the movement of God’s plan made manifest to us,” wrote Fr. Catalino Arevalo who gave the homily at Cory’s funeral. “It is through the aspirations of man that we come into living contact with the plan of God… (He ) calls us, not only by instruction or command but by event, by what happens in history.”
“You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky,” the Master from Galilee once said …”Hypocrites. Why can you not interpret signs of the times?”