When Yellow Fades

Image by cyrusaurus

It's a horrible feeling, waking up to news about death.
It was a Saturday morning but I woke up early, despite the alcohol the night before and the strange morning headache that I've only been familiar with just recently. And also, despite the day being a Saturday. I was already alone in the room and I am hearing Ceryl Cosim but not in her usual Salamat Dok tone blaring on the television outside.
There were anchors. There were interviews. Groggy and still in a state of near REM, two words jolted me.
Pumanaw na.
I walked to the television and I felt the silence that's enveloping our apartment's living room slash dining area. My mother is quietly ironing clothes, misty eyed. My father is glued to the TV and my two siblings are quietly having their breakfast.
Former President Corazon "Cory"Aquino has died.
The mood was similar out at the market.
My father asked me to come with him at the neighborhood palengke to buy ingredients for my mother's kare-kare. Gloomy and drizzling. the wet market doens't have it's usual busy loudness. One radio was tuned in to AM as the tinderas and tinderos listened. A husband and wife, sharing a low stool on the pavement quietly carries their umbrella as they watch over their goods - spices for the man and karyoka for the woman. I'm sure they did not intend to be melodramatic, just carrying on with their task of selling their products in that palengke.
"Paano na kaya ang Pilipinas ngayon?" said the woman to her husband in the morning drizzle. And just like that, she became just like the people in the political ads airing nowadays, only much much more genuine and unscripted, and with words that are raw yet much more heartfelt and sincere.
My mother has this anecdote about me, which she shares everytime we see documentaries on TV about the Marcos years and the events that led to the first EDSA uprising.
I was just 3 years old when the people of Marcos' party held a motorcade in our town in the province. Marcos allied politicians literally painted the town red, as they campaigned for their president during that year's snap elections. As they passed our house, my father carried me outside to watch. The politicians waved, played their campaign tape, and flashed the Marcos hand sign to everybody, including myself.
And then I flashed back Cory's Laban hand sign.
I don't remember doing that but my mother said it broke the ice and drew out laughter from the pro-Marcos politicians. In Ilocano they said, "Look at the kid. He's fighting us."
My mother has already told that story several times, to several people. And on Aug 1, 2009, she told it again, to me.
I grew up in an Ilocano territory, where most people, especially the old folks, look up at Apo Marcos like a god and look down on Cory Aquino as an incompetent leader whose only accomplishment was to rename the country's airport.
Some of the kids in our school share the same view as their elders.
One afternoon, these kids and I were the appointed cleaners of our public school classroom. From the row of the mandadtory presidential portraits on the wall, Cory's plastic covered picture fell off and one of my classmates swept the picture away with his broom along with the classroom's dust and scrap papers.
"Walisin tayo ni Kurikong!" he said laughing. Kurikong, in Ilocano, is a type of skin disease.
I picked up the picture and tried to put it back up with thumb tacks. I was too short then to reach the right level of the portraits of Marcos, Macapagal, et. al.
I left it on the teacher's table and went home ahead of the rest of the cleaners, who were all calling me maka-kurikong.
EDSA 2. I was a student journalist from UP. Armed with an old cassette recorder and a laminated computer print out that served as our PRESS ID, I along with Gidget, Marela and Tarra went to the EDSA shrine to do our school requirement of covering the rally.
Our old cassette recorders were no match to the cameras of the real press people. Between the media and the student journalists whose only readers are their professors and classmates, the personalities of course would choose to talk to the professionals.
I don't know what happened that night, but we were suddenly inside the shrine, along with the media and EDSA 2 personalities. It was overwhelming for us, student journalists in the hall. After the coverage, we briefly ate dinner at Red Ribbon in Galleria and then we went home with a tape-full of Cory Aquino sound bites.
Cory Aquino talked to us, student journalists.
One of the many papers I wrote in college was titled Cory's Magic. It was about how Filipinos always wait for and listen to what Cory has to say in times of crisis and political turmoil. It was about how different parties or groups tend to have varying stands until Cory comes forward to unite them. I tried to analyze how her "gentle persuasion" always worked for Filipinos. My analysis then was that above violence and aggressiveness, we prefer a motherly approach, especially coming from a personality with a moral credibility.

My Canadian instructor gave me a low grade. He said my paper lacked citations and it relied to much on my subjectivity.
He was right. But not entirely. I did research too.


Truth is, we lost one of the most important voices in modern Philippine politics. Even in her times as a private citizen, we still wait for what Cory has to say before we do action. When we have her assurance and support, we get confidence that what we're doing is right and we're headed to the right direction.

I believe it will be hard for us to find another one like President Cory, who even in her death, unites a nation.


berg said...

a very genuine and heartfelt post... may she continue to inspire us all even in passing.

Elvin said...


I was at the Ayala procession/march yesterday. I have some comments about some people who were there but for other strange reasons pero wag na lang. Haha.