are we worth dying for?


Ninoy said that the Filipinos are worth dying for. Cory, up to her last moments here on Earth, showed that Filipinos are worth living for. Her term may not be as perfect as we had hoped to be but it’s quite obvious now that we would look at those times not with regret but with a bit of pride.

I have to be honest though. When I first heard that the former President had died, I wasn’t affected a bit. In my mind, I immediately started singing "Tie A Yellow Ribbon on (that damn) Old Oak Tree." The thing is I’m not politically savvy or smart enough to understand the real essence of her passing. I always view history through the prism of silliness, something that I could understand very well. During the Senate hearing on the Velarde case, for example, I watched only in anticipation of comedy with Senator Mirriam, of course, in the lead. When President Arroyo finally announced that she was going to run for presidency in Baguio a few years ago, I likened her to a hobbit, a hobbit who had been lured by the fiendish power of Sauron's ring.

I started paying attention to the news only a few days ago when I arrived at the studio and saw the entire staff glued to the necrological service. But again this was only because the Manila Cathedral looked spectacular. I thought it somehow resembled the Westminster Abbey especially with its baroque elements. I fell in love with the crane shots and the lighting that constantly changed from yellow to green. This morning after I heard on the news that the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra would be playing I finally decided to forgo sleep and waited for the 9 o'clock funeral. I was simply expecting to be entertained.

Of course the news coverage was, as expected, a minefield for comedy. Mike Enriquez, for one, kept asking everybody about the weather. He was simply obsessed about it. The reporters, scattered all over the Cathedral, were probably just a few meters from each other and they too reported about the weather. Maybe they were gunning for a miracle angle, something that resembles the headline: Heaven smiles down on Cory or something to that effect.

I thought it was a lovely funeral though. Fr. Catalino Arevalo’s homily was heartfelt and touching. I find it odd however that Kris’s husband, James, never once offered his wife his arms for comfort. When Kris finally went to the podium to speak I felt a bit uneasy. There were cringe-worthy moments but in the end it was clear that as much as this was a national loss it was also simply about a family losing their beloved mother.

Of course all of these have nothing to do with Cory. I began to think about things seriously when I saw at dusk that her cortege has yet to reach Paranaque. I know that Filipinos are given to easy sentimentality and when we as a nation experience events like this one I begin to think about dousing everybody with cold water. Para naman magising. The tribute that the Filipino people gave to Cory, however, was very fitting. It felt so right. Eventually, however, I started to wonder why.

To find out, I visited Manuel Quezon’s blog, read the Inquirer’s editorial and Conrado De Quiros’ column. I not only wanted to get a clear sense of the former president’s real essence to us as a people but I realized that I was also looking for some personal connection. I read in a blog that her real essence lies in the fact that we wouldn’t be enjoying our freedom now if not for her. But then, I thought, if she hadn’t come someone would.

Time and time again people would mention the words “Cory magic,” her ability to inspire Filipinos to gather for a common good. Interestingly, in life and even in death, she still had that magic. And I believe I have just been affected by it, albeit belatedly. I may still be wondering about her real essence but at least she got me started. In fact, I was supposed to blog about my pitiful life until I realized that as a Filipino I should do my part in documenting the historic event. Not for anybody else but for myself.

After I was able to get out of the house, I had an epiphany. We shouldn’t take Ninoy’s statement at face value. Of course! We should also ask ourselves: Are we worth dying for? Ninoy and Cory knew the answer to that one but we, as a people, should come up with our own answers as well.

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