On Cory's 8th death anniversary, Aquino urges Filipinos to protect democracy

MANILA, Philippines – Family, friends, and supporters trooped to Manila Memorial Park on Tuesday, August 1, to commemorate the 8th death anniversary of former president Corazon Aquino.

Once a housewife reluctant to enter politics, Cory Aquino became known as an icon of Philippine democracy after the EDSA People Power Revolution that ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Even after retiring from politics, she was still in the public eye, as she continued to speak out on national issues.

Former president Benigno Aquino III and his sisters Ballsy Aquino-Cruz, Pinky Aquino-Abellada, Viel Aquino-Dee, and Kris Aquino were all there to remember their mother.

In response to reporters' questions, the former president said some events in the country would worry his mother if she were alive now. (READ: Aquino: PH 'needs' CHR to protect human rights)

"Siyempre marami siyang – paano sasabihin? – causes for concern. Sa Marawi, 'yung mga patayan, andito tayo ngayon sa typhoon season. Maraming bagay na dapat na magkakaron ng concern 'yan," Aquino said.

(Of course she would have plenty to be concerned about if she were still alive. The crisis in Marawi City, the extrajudicial killings, and now, typhoon season. There are many issues.)

Asked if he thinks the foundations of the country's democracy are strong enough to withstand anything, Aquino said: "Maski anong bagay 'pag pinabayaan ay guguho eh, mawawala. Parang obligasyon natin na nagmana sa lahat ng sakripisyo ng nauna sa 'tin na ipagtanggol 'yung mga karapatan na 'di binigay, ipinaglaban."

(Anything that is neglected will crumble or be lost. It's our obligation, those of us who inherited the sacrifices of the earlier generation, to fight for the rights that were not just given to us but were fought for.)

"'Pag 'di natin pinahalagahan itong mga karapatan na ito, baka gumising tayo isang araw wala na," the former president said.

(If we don't protect these rights, we might wake up one day to find that they're already gone.)

Grateful for support

Also present at the gathering were the late president's sons-in-law and grandchildren, including Joshua Aquino, Bimby Aquino-Yap, Jiggy Cruz, and Miguel Abellada.

The family expressed gratitude to their friends and supporters for standing by them through the years.

"You know in our hearts, you will always be there. Kasi sabi ko nga sa mga panahon na mabango ang aming pangalan, marami [ang nandiyan]. 'Pag 'di masyado, andiyan pa rin kayo (Like what I said, during those times when we are popular, many people are there. But even during unpleasant times, you're still there)," Aquino-Cruz told supporters in a brief speech.

Former president Aquino said it was heartwarming that people who have been with them since the assassination of their father, former senator Benigno Aquino Jr, are still with them up to this day.

"Siyempre nakaka-touch na pumunta lahat mga tao dito lalo 'yung mga kasama pa namin noong namatay ang Daddy. Tsaka noong panahon na 'yun siyempre maraming tense na magpakita kasama namin. Ngayon yata nabalik na naman 'yung tense na makita na kasama namin. Nakakapuno ng puso na marami pa rin," he told reporters.

(Of course, we are touched that many people went here, especially those who have been with us since Daddy died. That time, it was very tense to be seen with us. I think that same feeling is back now. It fills our hearts that there are still many people with us.)

The late president Cory died at the age of 76 on August 1, 2009, due to colon cancer. Her death sparked calls for her only son, then senator Benigno III, to run for president in the 2010 elections. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com

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