Of the many eulogies given former President Cory Aquino this week, one stands to memory. Simply put (was it by Kris or someone else): Our nation found in Tita Cory the qualities it wished for its mothers, and loved her for it.
The first Filipina president’s passing somehow has given Filipinos a chance to think about their own parents. Cory has been honored most with filial titles as “ina ng bayan”, and as “the only true queen we had.”
My mom and her sister fondly remember Cory as their late mother’s lookalike. A teacher by profession, Mama Lola was marked by her curls, wide-framed glasses, and simple smile–akin to the lady in yellow.
I can’t vouch for mom and auntie’s nostalgia, but I find it proof that Tita Cory will best be remembered as an embodiment of our own parents.
In the frequent replays of Cory’s story during the marathon TV coverage, it’s her devotion to her husband and children that never fails mention.
We hear how she dutifully stood by Ninoy Aquino’s side when he was jailed and exiled. How she stood strong for her children when Ninoy was killed. And how as Citizen Cory, she still kept watch over her offspring’s lives and careers.
Among her virtues, it is love that marks her for many. Her bunso Kris tearfully told all last Wednesday how Ninoy was “the only man she ever loved.”
Then, in the August rain, my mind goes to my mother.
* * * * * *
She’s been married 21 years to Dad today. They wed on a date I assumed many had set for their weddings–August 8, 1988.
Only now do I try to ask for bits and pieces of my parents’ love story. I’m only sure that they first saw each other in one of those first batches of the LRT, a year after EDSA 1. For Dad, it was love at first sight.
I can’t recall if Mom had any boyfriends before Dad. If Dad ever did, they rarely came up in stories. I can’t even recall in detail how he courted her. All I know is that since they became one, they never let go.
More so when Dad had a stroke in Saudi Arabia nearly 2 decades later.
Faced with the prospect of losing him and having to raise us 4 kids on her own, Mom held on to her faith. Believing God to be on top of everything, she prayed and trusted Him.
Dad literally came back from the dead. During the hazy time he laid in a coma, Mom stood strong for us. When they followed me back home in Manila, Mom had to act as a de facto padre de familia, managing our home as my siblings adjusted to a new life.
In the long and rocky process that came with helping Dad return to his normal activities, Mom was always there, silently standing on the wings of prayer.
She does not often say it, but as she answers each request from Dad and us kids, daily plans our meals, and each morning bows her head to God, I sense her love for all of us. Unending and sacrificial, if you will.
It’s this faith, love, and devotion to us that makes me think of her amidst the Cory fever. Find similarities even.
With it, and God’s grace, they’ve reached 20–plus one–years together.
To my parents, Mabel and Andy, here’s to a future silver anniversary, and more.