Aquino recalls Mandela's words: 'You chose your parents well'
MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III joined the world in mourning the death of anti-apartheid hero and global peace icon Nelson Mandela, praising him as "an exemplar of conscientious resistance to racism, and exponent of reconciliation founded on justice."
In a statement released on Friday, December 6, Aquino extended his "deepest condolences" to Mandela's family, the South African people, "and all men and women of peace and goodwill who mourn the passing of a truly great man," on behalf of the Filipino people.
"For today, as Nelson Mandela united his people in the spirit of compassion and inclusiveness, so too does he unite the rest of the world-- not only in grief and mourning, but also in respect and admiration for a life lived with strength, courage, humility, and dignity," he said.
"His memory will serve as a durable guide to humanity as we seek to bequeath to future generations a world better than we found it."
Aquino also recalled his personal experience of meeting Mandela.
"On a more personal note, I recall with gratitude and humility the kind words he told me during his visit to the Philippines when I was still a Representative. He told me then, 'You chose your parents well.' My mother admired him; like all of us, she would have been deeply saddened by his passing," he said.
In March 1997, then President Mandela visited the Philippines and paid tribute to Aquino's mother, former President Corazon Aquino and for her struggle to fight for the Filipino people's freedom. He also praised the restoration of democracy in the Philippines.
Mandela was conferred an honorary doctorate degree by the University of the Philippines.
The 95-year-old Nobel Peace Prize awardee, who was elected South Africa's first black president after spending nearly 3 decades in prison, died from complications of a lung infection on Friday morning, with his family by his side.
News of his death triggered worldwide grief and a chorus of respect and gratitude for his contributions to society, specifically his fight to end apartheid.
'A beacon of hope'
Aquino hailed Mandela's life as making people "cognizant of those who have suffered persecution, yet refused to allow it to plunge their lives into bitterness or vengeance."
"Nelson Mandela sought to unite his people on the basis of humane aspirations for a just society. He achieved closure through justice, banishing recrimination and hate," he said.
"Above all, he acted out of the desire to uplift his fellow men and women by empowering the aggrieved to rise above hardship—guiding his nation through the crucible of suffering to forge ordinary men and women into peacemakers, freedom fighters, and even statesmen."
Aquino also cited Mandela's "unflagging optimism" that harmony can exist in place of prejudice, which he said is "a beacon of hope for all humanity."
"We must now all take comfort from the fact that a great man is now at peace, with the Filipino people and all humanity heirs to his example and vision," he said. - Rappler.com
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