Friday, August 28, 2009

my first time...

dust clouds must have erupted as my brain rummaged through old memories again, stirred about by a curious tale, a tale that sounded too familiar.

i had seen her once before, but never really paid her much attention for i was never one who minded strangers. bumping into her often, however, in the small school that we were in, made her a constant figure to my days and somehow, though we never spoke to each other before, she became less of a stranger to me and more a person i would like to know one day.

that day eventually came as classes began that semester. we were transferred to a new building, to a new city, to new surrounds, far away from the manila campus we had so accustomed ourselves to. you could tell we all tried to steady ourselves at first, acclimate in a way to having been uprooted and set onto new soil. our pasts felt insignificant and we were all given a fresh start. beginnings always present us with opportunities i guess, for indeed, in no time at all and by some way i can no longer recall, i found myself engaged in a conversation with this girl; the stranger-lady who walked through the corridors of my old school; whose face i see reading a book in our library; whose chuckling i hear when she gossips with her friends. this lady was no longer a stranger to me, for now i know her name, and it was "beautiful".

it did not take me long to become close to her. it was not that difficult to be her friend. she carried herself with certain simplicity, an endearing countenance that made her rather charming, if i may be allowed to use the word to describe a woman. she was kind woman, a meek woman, gentle and very soft spoken. she was a trusting woman, a caring woman and delicate in every way. it was no surprise really why people are drawn to her, why i was drawn to her, for how really can one help it when in the presence of such goodness? goodness, if there would be a word that i can sum her up with. goodness, the kind that makes you smile with a heart filled with content.

things felt simple when i was around her. she offered me a sense of clarity that i have never experienced with anyone before, a feeling of being uncomplicated, something that i have to admit, i am not really used to but gladly was, because of her, ready to explore. my sense of well being, and the issues thereof, was what i offered to her in return. i made myself a constant and reliable companion to her, ready and available whenever she would need me. it was the least i could do, i thought. it was the least i could do for the person, i didn't know it yet at that time, who i was steadily falling for.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


i greeted mader superior this morning after realizing how long it has been since we last communicated.

this week has been quite harrowing to say the least. four of the six secretaries at work decided to take three days off and fly out to boracay leaving the office severely undermanned. in no time at all, i found my already toxic days grow exponentially from bad to worse faster than you can say "holy F#*@!". it was like being caught in an avalanche of stress. adding to auditing, i found myself taking customer calls, running orders into the warehouse and attending to rather irate clients. i also had to deal with my own client's calls since my interior project is now in full swing. dad's condition at home was also far from perfect and i would find myself constantly worrying about him as well. needless to say, every end of the day, i would just be barely hanging on to the fringes of my capacity. being a creature of habit serves as a disadvantage during these occassions since, despite being exhausted to the bone, i am still compelled to do my scheduled rituals such as kickbox and jog. i know it sounds crazy but believe me, it would be worse for me if i skipped these activities.

as day 4 arrived and the secretaries finally came back in, i found my overdriven system begin to decelerate. i took a long deep breath and allowed myself to resume and relish my normal pace. it was at this time that the urge to just burst out crying came about. it was more like a sudden exasperated feeling that came over me and all i could think about was just to sob. but i didn't. i certainly didn't want to be "tragic" after all.

mader superior found herself confiding in me. it stirred a discomfort within for her predicament felt too familiar. this was the story of another's defeat, and how it just sucks to be always the one who ends up loosing. i sometimes feel, fate is just ungrateful.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

godzilla rising

it would have been most easy to simply give in, but on this rare occasion, i decided to choose the other. i really should be tired by now of staying defeated, for how long has it been since i felt genuinely happy and carefree? hmmm, too long actually. but my choice was still not towards my happiness, but rather, to my half way mark, a place i also know rather well. though not as dark as when i simmer in grim emotions, it is still not the bestest of places to be, but hey, it's a start. my emotional limbo.

kuya told me the other night that despite what i say, i find genuine worth when i wallow in tragedy. apparently, i am most myself when i am miserable. i am stronger when in pain and in anguish, more so, than when i am fine and dandy. though this time he said it was technically NOT WRONG (but still NOT RIGHT) since it was just being true to who i was, i still cannot allow myself to linger too long for my true state is very inefficient, unproductive and ineffective. hmmm, so it's ok to be myself just so i can be helpful, is i guess what he was trying to say. pardons, my state of indifference makes it hard to think since, i guess, my clarity of thought is also emotionally driven.

what he said came to me as a shock, but deep down, i could not help it but agree to what he said, even if in the surface, every fiber of my being went on revolt for how could i be so? he labeled me once already before as being "tragic", and for him to repeat himself, knowing the fact that kuya's eye for detail is as sharp as mine, i had no other option but remain silent and hold myself still, my ego convulsing, gagging on such an expose on my great weakness.

it should be enough to say that i draw strength from drama. that though i may look like a stressed-out haggard mess drowning in exclamatories about how much woe i am in, that i am still coherent, in tune, and present when under the intoxication of my emotional flares. i would like to think that when i am in those states, that i am simply shedding off the red tape in my brain and going direct to the point, the incessant ranting is only an unfortunate by product. there is some freedom experienced in my outbursts. an emancipation, i guess, from the repression i have been used to performing on a daily basis. though it may be abrasive, offensive, and down right nasty sometimes, i would like to think that that would be a price i have to pay if i needed to be really honest.

they say i am like this because i'm an ahr-teest! but i really don't associate myself with that label. i think it would be more accurate to say that i was just able to find a vent for my pent up frustrations. a vent that has proven rather effective with me. a vent that is soooo what i am not used to. after years of holding back, you really would have to expect the built up pressure pushing to get out. though i suffer cracks now to my person, i sincerely cannot help it anymore.

i originally wrote this entry, apologetic and to a degree, remorseful to what i am becoming, an uncheerful angry person. my mom said once that i had become a different man, no longer the sanguine person i used to be. i used to see the wisdom in suffering in silence like her, i still do actually. there is a place for it still in my repetoire of dealings with the world. it is just that this, my ugly side, is now also something people would have to associate with me.

i am trying my best to manage, not to lash out so indiscriminately and irresponsibly. i still have to be part of society and no one really wants to hang around a mean person. for now though, you would have to excuse me if i take a bit more time to discover this side of me. you would have to excuse me if i tell you that i have tired myself out already of showering people with bullshit.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

when idiots rule for a day

i slowly drove my car in the driveway, taking utmost care to park a foot away from my dad's car in front. my mom excitedly came to greet me. i just arrived from my lola's bearing gifts, ginataan and santol, both of mom's favorites. as she came up to my window, the first thing however that i told her was if she could unfold my side mirror. she found the request odd but unfolded it anyway. it was then that i slowly bowed my head on to the steering wheel and started to shake.

i. was. LIVID!!!

paragraph one, done. controlled and concise is how i'd put it. very characteristic of me before an emotional outburst, which i am warning you all now, this post is going to be. those of weaker and or self-righteous constitution, u can turn away. those who find entertainment in me squirming in utter hatred... read on.

the saying goes, when it rains, it pours. today, early in the morning, it rained. it rained buckets if i may use the hyperbole. it rained so hard that islands were formed and little people found themselves endangered once more. though i never thought that the saying should be taken literally, today, i found, became an exception.

my day started rather well despite the sudden downpour. our old house has definitely seen better days and as a result of years of wear, during heavy rains, i get an homage of the maria christina falls in my room as a result of a leaky roof. yes people, i sleep in a room whose floor is lined with newspaper and buckets. we have good days, like today wherein no leaking occurred, and we have bad days wherein you'd consider sleeping wearing a raincoat.

i took the dry floor as a good sign despite the gloomy weather and the incessant honking of the jeepneys outside. traffic is terrible now in my neighborhood as the geniuses that need their faces remembered come election decided to fix the roads during the most hectic time of the year. traffic then gets extra bad when it rains. i never really understood why it happens, i just chuck it to the fact that people have a strange aversion to drizzle. anyways. deciding i have to adjust to the mess i would soon find myself in, i left home extra early for work. (yes, i work saturdays.)

upon reaching the main intersection, i found out that my prediction was right. traffic was a mess. i however underestimated the gravity of the situation for it seems, not only do ppl behave strangely when in wetter conditions, they totally go MAD!!!? needless to say, though part of my neighborhood did disappear into the murky depths and caused delay in my usual 20min travel time, what really made it bad was that last night's storm tripped all the stoplights, turning them all into yellow blinking garbage. the stoplights, the only thing in my part of town that keeps us from descending into complete chaos. now, add to that a few hundred MAD commuters, jeepney drivers, street kids, pedestrians and stray dogs, and you, my dearest reader, now have an idea why it took me almost 2 hours to get to my desk in quezon city. adding more insult to injury, at blumentritt, there were a legion of EL SHADDAI buses headed out to Lord knows where.... disregarding stoplights and just charging into already slow traffic. as a result of which, TWO of them smashed into TWO separate cars in the same area. they practically barricaded the entire road. the gridlock stretched almost the entire southbound lane of a. boni avenue.

i rarely get harassed so early in the morning but after getting stuck in traffic just because you have people who cant wait for their turn and just decide to break every rule in the book, just so they can have their way... well, can you really blame me?

thankfully, work wasn't too hectic and my day went rather well. that was, until my drive home.

mader mcvie... you bear witness to my slowly rising temper.

seemingly not yet recovering from the wave of idiocy from the morning floods, the drive home showed some drivers who rightfully deserve to get themselves exiled to the moon... without a space suit. on two occasions, i almost got myself clipped. one by a truck who doesnt seem to use side mirrors, and another by a jeepney. it being a jeepney is explanation enough. carrying precious cargo, i.e., mothers ginataan and santol, i decided to keep my cool and just drive and get myself away from these people. the sooner i get home, the sooner my stress ends.

as i approached my turn, i was faced with a decision. shud i take the shorter but more jeepney route, or the longer, more pedestrian route? i decided to take the former rationalizing that i JUST might give in to the temptation if i spot a mindless buffoon. the unruliness of jeepneys is already a fact of the universe, and therefore, easier to swallow. so there i was, squeezing my car thru a mesh of waltzing jeepneys, ultimately funneling themselves into a four lane street that would end at my house ( well, its really just two lanes). i however found it strange since the traffic tonight was extra heavy. we were barely moving. so, for a second time, i found myself stuck again in a gridlock. inching my way ever so slowly to home. home.... so near yet so far. i guess this is what made it extra frustrating for me for it felt like the cosmos was keeping me away from my own home. as we inched closer, i finally found out the reason for all this mess that i was in. this now congested, four lane, bumper to bumper sea of vehicles were being rerouted into a narrow alleyway, to drive into opposing traffic, because the road was closed to make way for a kiddie party.

the baranggay.... closed a PUBLIC ROAD, a main FUCKING ROAD, just to make way for a kiddie party. no problem that the line of vehicles stretched as far back as the eye can see now. no problem that the cheesy, grappy, god-forsaken music that they are playing to entertain their handful of guests were being drowned by the honking of irate drivers not having a clue what was happening. no problem. they wanted their party. they will get their party.

i felt my brain shut down all of a sudden. it became dark in my car. i took the wheel and slowly, gently, turned it towards the detour. driving counterflow, in mad tondo traffic, with pedestrians avoiding the empty sidewalks had one of them come too close to my car, hitting my side mirror, folding it.

i got home. i got out of my car. i relayed my harrowing experience to my folks. sat down at the dinner table, saw the pata tim, got my folk and finished the shank like a hyena on crack.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

apologies for my looseness

it rolled effortlessly off my tongue, rather, i typed it effortlessly and pressed send, without giving it a second thought. it was a smooth transition from idea to execution yet the moment the deed was done, my gut went on an upheaval. i was too late to stop it and simply sat and watched the ripples of my actions come into effect.

yan ang sakit ng taong gusto makisawsaw sa buhay ng iba.

feigning concern was i? what was my motive? what was i hoping to achieve with that aimless statement?

my splintered psyche stayed apart, assessing the damage of my blunder. not really too much, to be honest. i certainly have done much worse before, yet it was still damage nonetheless. there was one shaking his head, another rolling her eyes, another frozen in panic and slowly having the sensation of shame overwhelm her.

haaaay naku. ayan kasi. ayaw pa kasing dumistansya. ayaw pa kasing umiwas. ang daming pwedeng pagkaabalahan, yan pa ang pinipili. wala namang ikabubuti. wala namang mapapala.

fine. etching this lesson onto stone... again, company to the countless other lessons my stupidity, tactlessness and lack of self restraint had led me to experience.

what a fine specimen of character i'm turning out to be.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

the finish.

it was supposed to be a simple dinner. a simple get together of friends over a shared meal. a simple giving-in to indulgences, like ebi tempura, and tofu and cake. a simple occasion to unwind and enjoy each other's company.

i found myself ruminating over the last few hours of my day today while my mind was half distracted from driving and avoiding the cavernous pot holes that plague a. bonifacio avenue. there was an unusual feeling that shrouded over me. it rested heavy on my chest and made it difficult for me to breath. it was the dawning of a clear and present reality. it was the surrendering of what little hope i still had left and suffering the loss of having finally nothing. i then began to feel myself slowly detaching, my emulsified soul now splintering into its members.

i am not part of that anymore, was what i realized.

i was forced out of it, to a degree.

it has been a slow process and i never really realized it, until today. until tonight.

so there i was, a witness to my own destruction. i was a spectator to it all. only a spectator. and though i so wanted to be a part of it all again, i knew in my being that now that i am here, that would never be. there is no point to go back anymore. there is no going back anymore. a gaping chasm now stands in between.

Monday, August 17, 2009

staple gun wishes

God loves us and therefore, despite His undeniable superiority, He doesn't judge us of our flaws. not yet, that is. i however, have not yet reached that point in my life wherein the life and love of God residing in me have fully permeated my entire being. that said, i therefore still fall short in a lot of things godly, my judgmental nature is one case in point.

allow me to then exercise and take another step farther from the unapproachable light.

i was having lunch with my brother at mamou this afternoon. we had been running around the metro handling errands and as a treat for being unceremoniously thrust into the work week so early, we (rather, kuya) gave in to the urge of having steak, something really worth looking forward to when at mamou's. anyway, while dining, this group of ladies came in and sat at the table next to us. nothing really unusual with that except for the fact that one of them was more lively than normal. from the moment she passed thru the door threshold, i swear, her mouth just went at it like it was a machine gun gone berserk! suddenly, the resto became flooded with "OH MY GOD!!"'s and "DID YOU KNOW"'s and probably all the exclamatory expressions in the english language. i really don't mind such high energy, but this woman (and i only address that she is of the female gender for no decent lady would ever behave like how she did) was something else!

kuya said this was the very definition of "yapping" for truly, she just kept talking and talking and talking and talking, and very loudly at that. she was so loud, i could barely hear myself think. the place was already bustling with ppl and was ringing with the sounds of the busy lunch hour but despite this, you could still hear her voice, and quite distinctly even. her sharp shrilling tone just could not be drowned by the combined clangings of utensils and the chattering of other diners. she was SO noisy, i was beginning to feel that she was already violently intruding into my personal space... and i was a a good few feet away from her! whenever she would give her opinion, or offer a suggestion, or share gossip with her girls, it was as if she was shoving her words down my throat. i told kuya she reminded me of dona victorina, the character in noli me tangere, a loud socialite oozing with vain glory.

it was a valiant fight but eventually, with her incessant chattering, she won. i lost my interest in my food and mamou's magic fell and tasted flat.

i hate that woman. i swear. driving back home, she was all i could think about. i hope she chokes on a t-bone STEAK!!!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

incongruent mornings

my alarm sounded off on the dot, 530am, my phone now a blinking beacon in the darkness of my room. the usual panic that i trust to wake me up as i scramble to turn my alarm off, wasn't there however. i opened my eyes, mind semi-lucid. i rolled in my bed and reached over to pick up my phone. i looked at it, rather curiously, squinting a bit as it grew brighter with each passing second, and then thought to myself... what now? i pressed the OFF button clumsily and dropped my phone, it now lost in the disheveled sea that was my bed.

i stared up into the ceiling, but i did not see it. i was still lying on my bed, but i could not feel it. my body was bare to the air-con wind, but i could not sense it. i was present, but i was not conscious. my mind was still in its initial slur. i stayed there for a few minutes, waiting, simply being, staying in that state when your mind is still, silent, and yet you know it is just starting to warm up. my morning mind-less reverie. a reflex blink was what eventually broke the spell, followed by a long deep breath. the expanding of my chest and the discomfort of the stretch sent the violence of waking through my whole body. muscles started to tense, ligaments and tendons distending in the process. joints creaked and cracked. organs grumbled and greeted. my skin flushed warm and was enlivened. and my mind, though still struggling to collect itself, was churning as well. the ceiling finally manifested, its speckled texture and how much i disliked how dated it looked. my bed smelled of my musk mixed with a subtle hint of soap, just the way i like it. a sharp poke... on my back told me that i had unknowingly rolled on top of my phone. a muffled beep as i received my first morning text from a friend, asking how dad was, confirmed it. i felt a gradual surge of goosebumps crawl over my body, the nippy air finally had its effect.

i gently propped myself up to sit and waited to get accustomed to the change in position. i stood up and walked over to open my room door. outside, the sun was just beginning to peak through the thick overcast sky and the world was already bustling without me. the sights and the sounds of the morning, and all the mornings before it reminded me of the hundred and one things i have to do in the hours ahead. my mind was now in full throttle.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

tonight, at practice

it was the last of the fifty kicks to the punching bag when i felt it, the sharp, jabbing pain shooting up from my right ankle. "there it goes..." i thought to myself, referring to the chronic pain that had been plaguing me. it is my weakness, this ankle of mine, a literal achilles' heel. i had to stop from my training and rest a bit. i stretched my toes, and tried to loosen my foot. i walked around the floor for a few minutes, trying to get a feel of how much more my ankle could take. quite a lot still, i hoped. quite a lot more still, it must, i convinced myself. i will learn to not give up without giving first my all. i shall not be discouraged with failure and pain. with that in mind, i walked back to my opponent for the day, a leather punching bag swinging aimlessly in front of me, drenched from the sweat left by my already dripping legs. i took my stance. i readied myself.

WHOMP! one... WHOMP! two.... WHOMP! three...

each strike took my breath. each blow i winced in pain. each kick bore all the focus my mind could muster. each hit was a reward for my determination. i was happy to at least forget.

dad's procedure didn't offer the results as we had hoped. his tolerance for pain had caused him to loose valuable time, time that could have prevented the worsening of his eye condition. the doctors are hopeful nonetheless. we will reschedule for the following week. now all we can do is wait and hope for the best. till then, impatient, ill- tempered dad was advised to behave. be kind. relaxed. be forbearing. no stress, no anger, no frustrations. nothing to excite him or irritate him lest it aggravates his already volatile condition.

when my relatives heard this, despite their sincere well wishes, they could not help but snicker.

Monday, August 10, 2009

self diagnoses

my body is still unusually toasty, as how i would often find myself when i walk about like a zombie, my state when i severely lack sleep. the past nights have been interesting to say the least, definitely way beyond the standard weekend fare. from an overnighter with blogging friends wherein we exchanged stories like giddy girls on their first sleep over to warping myself hyperspeed into a super adult as i come home and get drafted to nurse my father as he got rushed to the hospital ER, i am quite surprised i am handling all of these events rather well.

please don't get me wrong. i am not complaining in any way. it's just a habit of mine whenever i encounter more un-usual days, this now putting myself on a petri dish and performing divination on my disemboweled innards. rather a weird practice i have to say, but necessary to a degree. i am a creature of habit and when un-habitual events come my way, it is best to do an overall check up if all systems are still a go. considering that i am numb to the core, floating, hungry yet full, nauseous, thirsty, sleepy yet alert, and disoriented, all in the same time, something is telling me i am not yet all ok.

hmmm, here's a random thought. dad's doctor noticed how i could keep up with his medical jargon and asked if i had medical training. i said i did. he then told me to be wary. my dad's eye condition is hereditary so chances are, i would get it as well.

hmmm, and so i now add ANOTHER to my growing list of possible maladies that would serve as the thorn in my flesh when the day comes, some giving me uncomfortable days already. what a fine day that was.... my first sarcastic comment for the day.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

fr. arevalo's homily for the late president

If I may, I will first ask pardon for what might be an unseemly introduction. In the last days of President Cory’s illness, when it seemed inevitable that the end would come, the assignment to give this homily was given to me by Kris Aquino. She reminded me that many times and publicly, her mother had said she was asking me to preach at her funeral Mass. Always I told her I was years older, and would go ahead of her, but she would just smile at this. Those who knew Tita Cory knew that when she had made up her mind, she had made up her mind.

What then is my task this morning? I know for certain that if liturgical rules were not what they are, she would have asked Congressman Ted Locsin to be here in my place. No one has it in him to speak as fittingly of Cory Aquino in the manner and measure of tribute she uniquely deserves, no one else as he. Asked in an interview, she said that the address before the two Houses of Congress at Washington she considered perhaps the supreme shining moment of her life. We know who helped her with those words with which she conquered America. These last few days, too, every gifted writer in the press and other media has written on her person and political history, analyzed almost every side of her life and achievement as our own “icon of democracy”. More powerfully even, images of her and of Edsa Uno have filled hour after hour of TV time. Really, what else is left to be said?

SO, Tita Cory, you’ll forgive me if I don’t even try to give a shadow of the great oration that should be given here this morning. Let me instead try to say some things the people who persevered for hours on end in the serried lines at Ortigas or here in Intramuros can (I hope) more easily follow. This is a lowly tribute at one with “the old sneakers and clothes made tighter by age, soaked by water and much worse for wear” of the men, women and children who braved the rain and the sun because they wanted to tell you, even for a brief and hurried moment, how much they love you. You truly “now belong among the immortals”. But these words are for those mortals who with bruised hearts have lost “the mother of a people”. Maybe less elegantly than the seminarian said to me Monday, they would like to say also: “She was the only true queen our people have ever had, and she was queen because we knew she truly held our hearts in the greatness and the gentleness of her own.”

One of my teachers used to tell us that if we really wanted to know and understand a position held, we would have to learn it from someone fully committed to it. Just as only one who genuinely loves a person, really knows him or her also. So to begin with, I turned to three real “experts on Cory”; to ask them where for them the true greatness of Cory Aquino lay. My first source thought it was in her selflessness, seen above all in her love of country-surely above self; yes, even above family. Her self-giving, then, for us; what she had received, all became gift for us. The second, thought it was in her faith her greatness lay, in her total trust in God which was also her greatest strength. And the third said it was in her courage and the unshakable loyalty that went with it. It was a strength others could lean on; it never wavered; it never broke….Cory’s selflessness and self-giving; her faith (the Holy Father just called it “unwavering”); her courage, her strength. May I use this short list to frame what I will say?

O, let me name my experts now, if I may. They were three, all of them women close to her: Maria Elena Aquino Cruz, whom we know as Ballsy, Maria Aurora Aquino Abellada, Pinky to her friends; and Victoria Elisa Aquino Dee, Viel to the family. Kris and Noynoy are the public figures; they can speak for themselves. I hope they will forgive me that I did not ask.

First, selflessness

First, then, her generous selflessness. For us this morning what is surely most to the point is her love of country. When her final illness was upon her already, she said-most recently at the Greenmeadows chapel (her last public words, I think)-that she was offering her suffering, first to God, then for our people. I heard that grandson Jiggy asked her why first for country and people, and she said that always the priority line-up was God, our country and our people, and then family. On radio, the other night, the commentator asked an old woman in line why she stood hours in the rain to get into La Salle. Ito lang ang maibibigay ko po sa kanya, bilang pasasalamat.” “Bakit, ano ba ang ibinigay ni Cory sa inyo?” “Di po ba ang buhay nya? Ang buong sarili nya? At di po ba ang pag-asa? Kaya mahal na mahal po namin siya.” Early on, on TV, they ran many times the clip from a last interview. She says, “I thank God, and then all of you, for making me a Filipino, for making me one of you. I cherish this as one of the truly great gifts I have received.” A few weeks from her death, she could say that; without put-on or the least insincerity. “I thank you, for making me one of you.”

Her selflessness, her self-gift. Pope Benedict likes to say that the God whom Jesus Christ revealed to us, is Father. A Father who is wholly self-gift; the God “whose nature is to give Himself”-to give Himself to us, in His Son. And, the Pope says, that is what is the meaning of Jesus and the life of Jesus, and, by discipleship, what the Christian’s life is meant to be. We Christians, too, we must give ourselves away in the self-giving of love.

Ang buhay po nya at sarili. Kaya po mahal na mahal namin sya.” In the last days, when finally and reluctantly still she admitted she had much pain, I kept thinking that only a couple of weeks before, for the first time publicly, she said that she was offering it up first of all for us.

Second, her faith

Second, her faith. Pinky says, it was her mother’s greatest strength; it was what was deepest in her. Her faith was her bedrock, and it was, bedrock. Frederick Buechner the ordained minister and novelist likes to say that through his lifetime, he’s had many doubts, even deep doubt, daily doubts. “But I have never really looked down into the deep abyss and seen only nothing. Somehow I have known, that underneath all the shadows and the darkness, there are the everlasting arms.” I think Cory’s faith was like that, not in the multiplicity of doubts (even if, in a life so filled with trial, there surely were doubts too), but in the certainty of the everlasting arms. More than once she told me, “Every time life painted me into a corner, with seemingly no escape, I always turned to Him in trust. I knew He would never abandon us if we trusted in Him. And you know, somehow, He found a way out for us.” And so Pinky says, “Mom was always calm even in the most trying times. She trusted God would always be there for us, She was our source of strength. She made this world seem so much safer and less cruel for us. And now that our source of strength is gone, we have to make our faith something more like hers. But we know in our hearts that in every storm she will watch over us from heaven.”

Devotion to Mary

Within this faith was her devotion to Mary, the place Our Lady of Fatima and the rosary held in her life. All we can say on this, this morning is that Our Lady truly had a special, living presence in her life: Mary was, for Cory, true mother and incomparable friend; as we say in the hymn-vita, dulcedo et spes: life, sweetness and hope. No, Mary was not the center of her faith, but its air, its atmosphere; and the rosary, her lifeline through every trial and crisis. In the long harsh months of her illness, Sister Lucia’s beads almost never left her hands. She was holding them, as last Saturday was dawning and her years of exile were at last done, when we know her Lady “showed unto her, the blessed fruit of her womb.”

Third, courage

Lastly, her courage, her strength. Her children tell us that their father was only able to do what he wanted to do, because her loyalty and her support for his purposes was total, so she practically raised them up as a single parent. Ninoy himself wrote, again and again, that he endured imprisonment and persecution, leaning so much on her courage and love. And after his death, when she could have withdrawn in a way “safely” to her own life with her children at last, she stayed on her feet and fought on in the years that followed, through the snap elections and what went before and after them, through her presidency and the seven coup attempts which tried to bring her down. Even after she had given up her rule, could she not have said “enough”, and we would all have understood? But with not the least desire for position or power again, whenever she thought the spaces of freedom and the true good of our land were threatened, she went back to the streets of struggle again. Once again she led us out of the apathy we so readily fall into; once again she called us out of our comfort zones to the roads of sacrifice.

Purity of heart

Here, even hesitantly, may I add one trait, one virtue, to those her daughters have named? One day Cardinal Stephen Kim of South Korea asked if he might visit her. Through Ballsy, she said yes. It was a day Malacañang was “closed”; they were making up the roster of members of the forthcoming Constitutional Convention. Someone from the palace staff ordered us turned away when we came; it was Ballsy who rescued us. Stephen Kim, hero and saint to his own people-perhaps, along with Cardinal Sin, one the two greatest Asian Catholic prelates of our time-spent some 45 minutes talking with her. When we were on our way back, he said, “I know why the Lord has entrusted her with power, at this most difficult time…It is because she is pure of heart. She has no desire for power; even now it is with reluctance she takes it on. And she has done this only because she wants to do whatever she can for your people.” He said, “She truly moves me by the purity of her spirit. God has given a great gift to your people.”

With this purity of heart, in the scheme of the Christian Gospel, there is joined another reality which really, only the saints understand. It is suffering. How often (it is really often; over and over through the years) she spoke of suffering as part of her life. Much contemporary spirituality speaks of suffering almost as the epitome of all evil. But in fact for all the saints, it is a mystery they themselves do not really understand nor really explain, Yet they accept it quietly, simply as part of their lives in Christ. There is only one painting she ever gave me. Kris said then, when her mom gave it to me, that it was her mom’s favorite. The painting carries 1998 as its date; Cory named it “Crosses and roses.” There are seven crosses for the seven months and seven weeks of her beloved Ninoy’s imprisonment, and for the seven attempted coups during her presidency, and many roses, multicolored roses all around them. At the back of the painting, in her own hand, she wrote a haiku of her own: “Crosses and roses/ make my life more meaningful./ I cannot complain.” Often she spoke of her “quota of suffering.” When she spoke of her last illness, she said: “I thought I had filled up my quota of suffering, but it seems there is no quota. I look at Jesus, who was wholly sinless: how much suffering he had to bear for our sake.” And in her last public talk (it was at Greenmeadows chapel), the first time she spoke of her own pain: “I have not asked for it, but if it is meant to be part of my life still, so be it. I will not complain.” “I try to join it with Jesus’s pain and offering. For what it’s worth, I am offering it up for our people.” Friends here present, I tell you honestly I hesitated before going into this, this morning. But without it, part of the real Cory Aquino would be kept from view. Quite simply, this was integral to the love she bore for her people.

Thanks to her children

AT this point, may I, following the lead Mr. Rapa Lopa has given, just speak a word of thanks to President Cory’s children, who shared so much of her service and her sacrifice. They have almost never had their father and mother for themselves. For so many years, they have been asked to share Ninoy and Cory with all of us. And because of the blood and the spirit their parents have passed on to them, they too gave with generosity and grace the sacrifices we demanded of them. Ballsy and Pinky, Viel and Kris, your husbands and your children, and Senator Noynoy, may we thank you this morning from all our hearts, and may we offer also the gratitude of the hearts of a people now forever in your debt.

I have used up all my time, some of you will say, and I have not even approached the essential: her political life, that she was our nation’s unique icon of democracy, that Cory Aquino who is know throughout the world; was TIME magazine’s 1986’s woman of the year; she who led the ending of the dictatorship that had ruined our nation, the bearer of liberation, of freedom, and of hope for a prostrate people.

So, by your leave, may I add one item, along this line at last. In October 1995, Milano’s Catholic University, conferred on her the doctorate honoris causa in the political sciences (incidentally, only her twenty-third honorary degree). This was only the fifth time this particular one had been given since the university’s inception: the first time to an Asian, the first ever to a woman. She wanted, at the end of her lectio magistralis, to spell out, perhaps for the first time with some explicitness and completeness, her personal political creed. She listed seven basic beliefs which, regarding political life , she said she tried to live by. Then she spoke of one more, “one more I may not omit.” Perhaps the paragraph which followed is worth citing here, even without comment, because it has something to say to our present hour.

(We cite her words now.) “I believe that the vocation of politics must be accepted by those who take up the service of leadership as a vocation in its noblest meaning: it demands all of life. For the life of one who would lead his or her people-in our time as never before-such a life must strive for coherence with the vision aspired to, or else that vision itself and its realization are already betrayed. That vision must itself be present, in some authentic way, in those who seek to realize it: present, in the witness of their example; present, in a purity of heart vis-à-vis the exercise and usages of power; present, in an ultimate fidelity to principle, in a dedication that is ready to count the cost in terms of ‘nothing less than everything.’ It is Cardinal Newman, I believe, who said that in this world, we do good only in the measure that we pay for it in the currency of our own lives. For us Christians, there is always the image of Jesus, and the price his service demanded of him. And for me there has been, as a constant reminder, the sacrifice my husband offered, and the word that it has spoken, to me and my people.” (Cory Aquino, end of citation)


With all this said, I am done. Ma’am, tapos na po ang assignment ko. It has been so hard to do what you asked. But I comfort myself that these so many words really do not matter. What counts in the end is really-what all this week has been; these past few days’ outpouring of our people’s gratitude and love; what will come after all this today; what we will do, in the times ahead, in fidelity to your gift. I received a text last night from a man of some age and with some history behind him. “She made me proud again, to be Filipino.” Maybe that says it all. Cardinal Sin used to put it somewhat differently. “What a gift God has given our people, in giving Cory Aquino to us.” The nobility and courage of your spirit, the generosity of your heart, the grace and graciousness that accompanied you always. They called it “Cory magic”-but it was the truth, and the purity and beauty, clear and radiant within you, that we saw. And the hope that arose from that. And when the crosses came to you and you did not refuse to bear them, more to be one with your Christ and one with your people and their pain. “Blessed are the pure of heart; for they shall see God.”

Thank You Father in heaven, for your gift to us of Cory Aquino. Thank You that she passed once this way through our lives with the grace You gave her to share with us. If we give her back to you, we do it with hearts of thanksgiving, but now, oh, with breaking hearts also, because of the greatness and beauty of the gift which she was for us, the likes of which, perhaps, we shall not know again. Salamat po, Tita Cory, mahal na mahal po namin kayo.

(taken from

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

teddy "boy" locsin jr.'s eulogy to the late president

"Throughout thirteen years of martial law, until I laid eyes on her again, I never thought that I would ever see the end of it. Least of all that my father would survive it. I am not much given to prayer or pious reflection but when I could set aside my anger, I prayed my father would see democracy again."

"Late one afternoon, in San Francisco, I got a call. It was from Cory Aquino, for whom I had written one speech after her husband’s assassination. She said she had accepted Marcos’s challenge in a Snap Presidential Election. I put down the phone, and packed my bags, and reported to her at the Cojuangco Building."

"I knew then she was the answer to my prayers. What I did not notice was that the closer we came to victory, which is to say the farther the prospect receded that the Marcos regime would survive, the less I felt the anger inside me. As each day passed, bringing me closer to the day I could get even, the less I felt the need for it as I spent more time with the woman who alone could make it possible."

"I did not notice, but I was no longer looking back in anger, or looking forward even, to victory and vindication. Only now do I see. I had lived with my anger so long, only for the day to come when it no longer mattered to me. The only thing that counted was that I was living every day to the fullest, bringing out the best in me—for someone else. A dream I hadn’t had since I was a boy, feeding on stories of chivalry, had been achieved. I was serving a woman who was every inch a sovereign, all the more for scorning the slightest pretension to the role."

"I did not realize it, even when I was already in the Palace, by the side of the President—among all her advisers, I like to think, the one who loved her most."

"It never again occurred to me that I had scores to settle. And not until today, that I had passed up every chance to get even."

"From the moment I came in from the airport and reported for duty, and she gave me in return the same smile she gave me on her deathbed, I never noticed… Not when I was with her in the campaign when she corrected me for not looking at the people I was waving at… Nor when I was with her in the presidential limousine looking intently, for her benefit, at the crowds at whom I waved… I never noticed anything. Except that I was with the only person that I would ever want to be with."

"I certainly never noticed that I had left my anger behind. I don’t know how it happened. Except that Cory Aquino ennobled everyone who came near her. I have tried to say it publicly but never could finish. If you saw me as I felt myself to be, anyone would fall in love with me. I saw myself in that hospital room, a knight at the bedside of his dying sovereign, on the eve of a new Crusade, oblivious to the weight of the armor on his shoulders for the weight of the grief in his heart."

"And because she always doubted my ability to be good for very long… Indeed, when my wife told Ballsy that I prayed the rosary at Lourdes for her mother’s recovery, Cory said, “Teddy Boy prayed the rosary? A miracle! I feel better already.” Because she doubted my capacity for self-reformation, she made it effortless for me by being herself. I did not notice that I was doing right by serving a woman who never did wrong. I am not sure how to take this moral self-discovery. It is so unlike myself. But if it will bring me before her again, I am happy."

i have never heard anyone so eloquently express their love and honor for a person they served.

Monday, August 3, 2009

the greatest honor

it was a long friday and an even longer week. after partaking my dinner, i slowly dragged myself up the stairs, brain gearing for the remainder of the night where i would find myself in front of my laptop, slaving away some more to finish off work. as i ascended the steps, i am immersed with the background noise from the busy tondo streets, as well as the blaring of the TV, as my dad always likes to watch with the volume turned high. "president aquino's statues remains stable." was the last i heard as i made the turn at the landing and the reporter's voice eventually melded too with the cocophony that makes up my tondo's daily soundscape.

i was still groggy when i woke up the following saturday morn. i left my work half finished and basing from my YM being still on and the welts on my face, i had fallen asleep without knowing it, again. it was 530am and the sky was a depressing grey. rain was pouring outside and the air was chilly. i clicked on my twitter to read the updates of friends from the night before, maybe learn of their eventful TGIF's, of the one's i don't think i will have anytime soon. yet amidst the tweets about fun and frivolousness was one lone tweet that i did not expect to read, the one tweet that made me look outside and sigh to myself "even the sky is weeping..."

the president had died.

the dawning of the day was still hours away as i passed by luneta, past the huge flag flapping in the stormy winds at half mast, it's full expanse as if pressed againts a wall of solid air, the national colors stretched against the dark sky. what great honor it must be for her excellency, i thought, to have such a spectacle greet you as you pass, that even the greatest of symbols who deserve the highest respect, pay their respects to those who they must feel are greater than them.

she, beyond any doubt, rightfully deserves it.

Saturday, August 1, 2009