I once was a Filipino. But stricken with the only communicable form of cancer - social cancer - I breathed my last Filipino breath, while coming to blows with the malignant disease’s complications of moral decay, shame, apathy and cynicism. From then on I breathed in alien gasps that allowed me to subsist in the miasma that dominates Philippine air.
But President Cory Aquino’s death days ago gave birth to my being a Filipino once more. As I witnessed a Pinoy proud moment on TV, swathed in goose bumps, I cried in affirmation to myself that I am a Filipino and I love my country, like a newborn bathed in amniotic fluid, crying to announce to the world that he or she is alive. I am proud to be a Filipino once more. While grieving her death, many professed to have deemed her to be their mother. Perhaps they are Filipinos reborn too.
A couple of decades ago, when I was young and unscathed by the thorns of reality, the death of her husband, martyred Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr., sired, while she labored and gave birth to a once dying nation. As a widow, she single-handedly mothered several prodigal sons and daughters, but the ever selfless mother that she was, she continued to love, forgive and protect them.
Now, as we, her children, lose her, it is then that we realize how much she meant to us. She united us as a family, in prayer, and in pacifying factions. She reproved us in our mischief, lived out an exemplary life for us to emulate, and was always ready to suffer and sacrifice her life just to protect us and our democracy. What more could be so motherly?
Like any loving mother who always believes in the best in her brood, she brings out the best in the Filipinos. Back then they called it the EDSA spirit or Cory magic, helping and taking care of one another during the People Power. During the past few days, this same spirit and magic filled the air that once choked my being a Filipino to death. I marvel at the voluntarism and self-discipline of the Filipino people, patiently waiting in an unending queue for their turn to bid their beloved mother goodbye. Nowadays, patience is a trait as endangered a species as the Tamaraw, of a people who bully each other as they maneuver their busy lives in traffic-jammed streets and highways and who bribe their way just to avoid a red tape piled up by bureaucracy in government offices. Mundane, and sometimes petty, but very telling of the moral decay. During this glorious moment, let's skip the mention of grosser symptoms
I did not expect to live the day that I can be proud, even for just a moment, that the Marcoses are Filipinos. But when they braved the uncharted yellow sea of people that encompassed the territory of their clan’s nemesis to sincerely offer their sympathies, and were received by the Aquinos with graciousness that was President Cory’s, boy, it makes me even prouder that I am a Filipino. But then again, a handful of black sheep in the Filipino family would always bleat exasperatingly somewhere, the true color of their wool conspicuously showing. But they are also not worth mentioning here, lest I suffocate in my freshly-recovered Filipino breath.
In her deathbed she bequeathed to us the greatest legacy a national mother could ever give – Democracy, and the noble heritage of her entire moral estate – Love of God, Love of Country, Integrity and Character, Courage, Humility, Moral and Principled Leadership, Sincerity, Simplicity, Undying Faith in God and the Filipino people, and many more unaccounted yet by the family bookkeeper. It is this democracy that we enjoy, sometimes take for granted, and is being threatened today. It is the same blood-stained democracy through which she lost her dear Ninoy, and a legacy she so guarded with her own life. I hope that the past days’ events brightened by Cory’s yellow will not fade into brown oblivion in some hidden dusty family album. May we truly guard and live out the legacy and inheritance President Cory Aquino had given us so that we may truly deserve what the Aquino couple declared: “The Filipinos are worth dying for.”
I once was a sickly alien in the land I mentally deserted. But soothed by a mother’s love and afflicted with a very contagious outbreak of nationalism, I exhaled my last alien gasp and panted for that Filipino breath to breathe in the Philippine air sweetly scented by a yellow stargazer that is subduing the stench of the nation's socio-political and cultural pollution. And so I breathe again as a Filipino...
Filipinos, please help in resuscitating the Philippines.