Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tita Cory's Wake

by Ms. Juliet Guanlao

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

From: Juliet Guanlao _________________
To: usths80@_______________________
Sent: Sunday, August 2, 2009 10:35:31 PM
Subject: [usths80] Tita Cory's Wake
I was there last night. It took me, a friend, and three nieces more than three hours to get to Tita Cory's coffin, where we were able to spend a few seconds to say thank you.

I could not pass up on this chance to feel "People Power" all over again. I went there with the hope of witnessing and feeling the same fever that gripped all of us 23 years ago. I was at EDSA (it happened three months after I came home from an 8-year stay in NY). I was squeezed at the gates of Malacañang with the passionate mob who rushed there after hearing the news that the Marcoses had fled. I was in Luneta during the rally after the dictator was ousted.

I just felt that this is the last chance to feel Tita Cory's fervent hope to unite us, even up to her death.
I was not disappointed. The unity of our people and the desire to be with Tita Cory for the last time are very much alive. The line started from Gate 5 and extended all the way to the corner of EDSA and Ortigas, and snaked 4 times. Four layers of people peacefully and orderly lined up along Ortigas, in the midst of traffic and the smoke-belching vehicles. But there were no complaints, no rowdiness among the crowd, just the usual noise of people chatting, waiting patiently in line.

There were a lot of smiles, nods and short comments exchanged among strangers, as we passed by or faced each other in our respective spots. As expected, there were a lot of entrepreneurs who were able to produce yellow shirts and yellow ribbons in such a short time.

We arrived at around 8:30 pm and were able to join the 2nd layer of the line. Those who were in the first line had been there since 4 o'clock. There was a mass at 8pm and they stopped letting people in at 7.

We were feeling impatient at around 10:30 pm when, to our surprise, there was activity behind us. Tita Cory's grandsons, Jiggy (the one who looks like Ninoy) and the other one (we didn't get his name but I think he was the other one who was frequently seen with Jiggy, but this time without his Ninoy glasses), were walking through the lines, shaking people's hands, profusely thanking and apologizing to everyone about the long wait.

Of course there were a lot of posing and picture-taking, and these two young lads were game! It was probably a nightmare for the two security personnel who tailed Tita Cory’s grandsons. Their presence gave everyone the much-needed boost, and we were able to keep our spirits up for the next 2 hours. There was even one lady behind us who shouted, "Iho, ano nga bang pangalan mo? Iboboto kita!" It was indeed an unexpected but heartwarming gesture from those two young men.

When we had gone through the gates, we saw young people handing out Kopiko candies and Hershey's Kisses chocolates. Feeling nasa wake talaga! Kulang na lang Boy Bawang, Happy peanuts, butong pakwan and Zest-o. But there were water dispensers and cups in different spots inside the campus.
Flowers lined up the corridors, and Tita Cory's enlarged portraits were placed along the hallway leading to the coffin. Inside the gym, celebrities were everywhere. But despite the fact that there were showbiz stars and politicos everywhere, I didn't think it replaced the feelings of the people that they were there to pay their respects to Tita Cory. The mood was calm and solemn.
In two's, we were allowed only a few seconds in front of the coffin. Not enough to digest and take in the minute details of this once-in-a-lifetime experience. I was there with a friend and my three nieces, and when we were back in the car, we pieced together all that we were able to store in our memories.

Tita Cory was wearing a simple bright yellow dress with sparkling stones. Brownish hands folded clutching a rosary. Jet black hair combed back, bright red lips, heavily-foundationed face. She looked very different... she looked like a Chinese mestiza but decades younger... The face was different from the Tita Cory we are all familiar with. But her expression was very serene... very peaceful...

The way she looked in the coffin got us distracted. We were hoping to see the sweet, motherly face of Tita Cory. We walked back to the car pensive, and disturbed. We did not want this to be the last memory we will have of her.
My initial feeling was, I wish I did not go.... But now, the morning after, things are clearer in my mind. She must have suffered so much in her ordeal that they had to hide the pain.. The face may have masked the sufferings but the color of her hands exposed them anyway... Now I feel that even up to her death, she wanted us to see her strength, not her sufferings. And for that, I admire her more...
Tita Cory suffered so much in her life....as a wife, as a mother, as a person...We are the ones who benefited from those sufferings. As a nation, we are free. But, as a people, we have a lot more to do. My fervent prayer is for all of us to show the same unity that we showed Tita Cory and do our share in addressing the ills of our country.

Twenty-six years ago, I was marching in the streets of New York City, together with the members of the anti-Marcos movement, because Ninoy had been assassinated. I live now in Manila, but for the 26 years that I have lived here, my sense of obligation has centered around myself and my loved ones. Other than doing my best to be a law-abiding citizen, the occasional bouts of nationalism demonstrated during the People Power and now for Tita Cory, I have not really done much. I hope now, I can start...

I have been a silent reader in our e-group for the past 8 years.. Now I cannot resist na magparamdam because I want to share this experience with all of you.

To those who are overseas and cannot make it to the wake, I hope this gives you a glimpse of what it was like to be there, from my perspective. To those who can make it to the Manila Cathedral, you still have a chance.
Let's pay our respects to Tita Cory. It's the least we can do. And let's hope that the spark that this visit rekindles will stay and ignite us to move.


seo said...

Tita Cory will always be remembered from generation to generation. Thanks to the Internet, our fellow OFWs can share their emotions regarding Tita Cory.

ReadMe said...

Thank you for sharing about Tita Cory's wake. Once again, even in her death, she touched everyone's nationalistic pride. Yes, Tita Cory deserves our utmost respect.