I was a kid when I saw on TV this woman dressed in yellow, wondering why lots of people are hovering all round her. Endless confetti kept pouring like rain from the cloudless skies.
Millions of people swarming all over the streets, flashing their smiles and their hands with the “L” signs. Their loud chants echoing from the main roads through the small street where I once lived, “Cory, Cory, Cory…”
I maybe young back then but I was not oblivious. She was my very own symbol of hope… of change… and of better things to come.
The woman in yellow was Corazon Cojuanco Aquino, dressed in plain garb who looked like someone who’s simple enough to be a plain housewife instead of a plantation owner, and she was the widow of a fallen nationalist.
Her peaceful quest for justice catapulted her to fame and led a bloodless revolt that ended decades of tyranny.
She was the Philippines’ very own Joan of Arc, a symbol of the fight against autocracy and despotism, her yellow dress a beacon of hope for a country ravaged by blood-red tyranny and cronyism.
Personally, I think of Cory Aquino as a modern day Gabriela Silang. In her relentless efforts at finding justice for her murdered husband, she was propelled to the frontline to lead the war. But unlike Silang, Cory was armed not with jungle bolos but prayers, not with aggression but with humility.
Not just a few times she was revered to as the new Gandhi, fighting violence with prayers of peace. Facing loaded guns with flowers and hugs, nuns battled tanks with hand-held beaded rosaries.
From then on, democracy is not a foreign word anymore.
With all the shortcomings of her presidency, to which the country expected way too much, she was never tainted with issues of corruption and abuse of power. Even as president, she remained as simple as a plain housewife can be. After all, she was an accidental heroine and leader. Thrust into place by an opposition hungry for a symbol of the struggle, a unifying figure. But intentional or not, she did her best and led by example, providing moral leadership to a country who knew no such thing.
At exactly 3:18 in the morning, August 1, 2009, Mrs. Aquino who was suffering from colon cancer, passed away. The Philippines had lost its icon of hope, of peace, and of democracy. She will be remembered not only by Filipinos but the whole world as the face of democracy and peaceful change.
Some things have changed. Some did not. I have been through a couple more revolts. I will probably join a few more. I still see crowds and confetti falling by the millions. But it will never be the same anymore.
Because there will never be another lady in a yellow.