Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Tita Cory's Wake... Incandescent Smile

by Felix Bautista

A friend of mine in the Philippines forwarded to me another e-mail about Tita Cory’s wake at the La Salle Green Hills Gymnasium. The original writer of the email has given Barangay OFW his permission to publish his email.

From: Felix Bautista ______________________
Date: Wed, Aug 5, 2009 at 6:56 AM
Subject: Tita Cory's Wake
To: tish bautista ___________________________


Tato, Joville, Nina and I went to the wake Sunday night. It was raining while we were in the car, but mercifully, the rains stopped when we left Robinson's Galleria parking. We stopped over at the EDSA Shrine and took the elevated walkway to Ortigas.

We got to the line at around 7:30 PM, near the tire shop on Ortigas and the line was just two deep. We settled in for a long wait, observing people, listening to hawkers plying their trade, and hearing Nina talk about her experiences as a high school teacher at La Salle Green Hills in 1986.

It took us several hours to get inside the gym, but we were offered Nestea juice and iced tea, Hersheys kisses, San Mig coffee. The only thing missing were the biscuits, a constant in Philippine wakes.

On the long ramp up to the gym, we saw two of Tita Cory's grandsons, as they worked the line apologizing to the people for the long wait.

Finally, we got inside the gym, and my first impression was that it looked like a giant TV studio, with all the lights and equipment. What struck me next was that even with all the people, the gym was almost quiet.

Soon, we were facing the coffin, and we only had enough time to make the sign of the cross. I only saw the heavily made-up face, not the brown hands and the rosary.

I also saw Ninoy during his wake at the Sto. Domingo Church -- Ninoy in his bloodied clothes. The two images from the two wakes were like night and day.

And then I remembered what Kris said during the Boy Abunda interview earlier. Kris said that she promised Tita Cory that she will make sure that Tita Cory will look good in her wake, so she was present the whole time, during the transfer of the remains from Makati Medical Center to the Heritage Mortuary, the embalming and preparation. And then in typical showbiz fashion, she thanked people who did Tita Cory's hair, makeup and clothes...

It was Kris's showbiz tribute to her mom.

I prefer to retain an image of Cory when she lit up in her incandescent smile, which I am now indelibly reminded watching all of the tributes to her on television. I will remember her for her transparency, her sincerity, her lack of pretence.

We stayed a while, sitting on the bleachers. Joville and Nina signed our names in the visitor's book. We received yellow pins; I will keep mine as a memento. For some minutes, we watched as people viewed Cory, trying to recognize Important People, drinking in the atmosphere.

Nearing 11 pm, we left the wake. On the way out, we caught a glimpse of Dolphy and Zsa Zsa. Dolphy looked stooped and was heavily made- up. So was Zsa Zsa.

As we walked back to Robinson’s Galleria, the line had grown four- tiers thick. The visit to the wake was, for me, a perfect ending to a truly happy day when I celebrated my birthday.


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