Thursday, August 20, 2009

'Thank you, we love you, goodbye'

Posted by Louie at 9:21 AM
MANILA, Philippines - Loved ones, friends and strangers showered messages of grief, gratitude and farewell on the late president and people power icon Corazon Aquino last night on the eve of her burial today.

One of the most touching eulogies was delivered by a security aide of 20 years – Inspector Melchor Mamaril – who said he felt he had lost a mother . After his eulogy, he walked closer to Mrs. Aquino’s casket and saluted.

“She shall always remain engraved in our hearts. Thank you, We love you. Goodbye,” Mamaril said.

Mrs. Aquino’s younger daughter Kris could be seen weeping hard as Mamaril was reading his eulogy in English and a few lines in Filipino.

Mamaril was one of the two security escorts of the Aquino family pulled out by the government. The Arroyo administration claimed no knowledge of the order to pull them out and has since apologized.

“I stand now with a deep sense of pride and gratitude as I bid goodbye to her whom I owe so much. My wife Judy and my four children, join me in paying our last respect to one who has become big part of our lives and one who considered us as part of her family,” Mamaril said.

Mamaril said Mrs. Aquino never made him feel like a mere employee but treated him like a son, a family member.

He related that one of her unforgettable memories of Mrs. Aquino’s kindness was in 1998 when she personally prepared noodles for her security aides after coming home one day with them and finding no food in the house.

“That’s how Ma’am Cory was. She takes care of people around her no matter how big or small, She treated us not as mere employees but like a mother tending to a son after a hard day’s work,” Mamaril said.

He said the goodness that Mrs. Aquino showed him made a strong impact on his life and made him a confident person.

“I feel a sense of wonder and at the same time, I realized that her treatment raised my dignity as a person. She gave me self-respect, self worth and self confidence,” Mamaril said.

“And even when she lay dying in bed, she was always very concerned about us. She would always ask if we had eaten already,” Mamaril said.

“One could always see her compassionate heart for all those in need,” Mamaril said.

He also said that Mrs. Aquino also drew him closer to God and to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

“I can always remember those times when we have to go to churches. In those times he brought me to prayer and closer to God. I am praying the rosary now,” Mamaril said.

“She exhibited a deep sense of prayer, devotion that I believe was the foundation of her being a person of dignity and uprightness,” he said.

Mamaril also thanked Mrs. Aquino’s children and family

“We are all with you in prayer, may God continue to bless us all,” Mamaril said.

Tribute after tribute

Quezon City Mayor Feliciano Belmonte Jr., said Mrs. Aquino and his wife the late Betty Go-Belmonte shared not only suffering caused by cancer but great faith in God.

Belmonte was one of the 19 people – including Mamaril – who spoke in the necrological services for the late president at the Manila Cathedral late yesterday afternoon.

“I am humbled and touched and influenced by two women of extraordinary faith late wife, Betty G-Belmonte and President Aquino. They were good friends. They met the first time during Ninoy’s (former Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino) death,” he said.

At the time that Mrs. Belmonte was sick she was concerned that her condition might cause her children to lose their faith in God, but they kept the faith. “Seeing now President Cory’s children, they have kept the faith.”

The Mayor recalled that when Mrs. Aquino assumed power in 1986, she appointed him chief of Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and the Manila Hotel. He was also member of the board of directors of San Miguel Corp..

He recalled that during these times, never did then President Aquino ask for any favors detrimental to the government and the people.

“She never asked for same favors for herself or her family, I realized that she was an exceptional leader, she made a difference between the people’s money and her own,” he said.

Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, who had served as head of the Manila Police District (MPD) during the Aquino administration and helped her crush several coup attempts called Mrs. Aquino “the best president” the country has ever had. He also gave Mrs. Aquino a final salute.

“We owe you so much. You are the source of our pillar of strength. What I did and what I have now, I owe to you. I salute you for the last time,” Lim added.

Gina de Venecia, the wife of former House Speaker Jose de Venecia, broke down as she recalled that Mrs. Aquino stood by her when her “so-called friends” abandoned her during the times she needed them most.

It was the late leader who encouraged her to take up painting, to help her to cope with the tragedies that came her way such as the tragic death of her daughter KC in a fire in their Makati home in 2004.

“I thank God for giving Cory, my friend. She believed in me when in times I do not believe in myself. Thank you for the gift of friendship. I will tell my grandchildren about their Lola Cory who taught me to live again,” Mrs. De Venecia said.

Before ending her speech, she added, “Now that you are in heaven please hug KC and tell her that I love her dearly and that we will meet again.”

Businessman Ramon del Rosario said that she revitalized the business section in the country and made many Filipinos proud because of her honesty, integrity, transparency and integrity.

Dr. Alex Ayco, Mrs. Aquino’s doctor for the last 30 years, said that when he got her test results some 18 months ago, he did not know how to relay the bad news that she was sick. He recalled that she was always kind to Filipino doctors and believed in their capabilities.

Fashion designer Paul Cabral said that up to now, he has kept the notes sent by Mrs. Aquino to him even if they were just reminders of some of the styles that she wanted. “These are cherished possessions of the most wonderful and selfless person.”

Sister-in-law Maria Aurora Lichauco called her as her BFF or BestFriends Forever. “I look forward to see you again but I hope not to soon.” Her comment elicited laughter from the crowd.

As for former Congressman Teodoro “Teddyboy” Locsin Jr., he said that Mrs. Aquinio's example taught him to control his temper.

Grateful

Mrs. Aquino’s only son Sen. Benigno Aquino III thanked the Filipinos for the love they had shown to his mother.

“I truly really believe without an iota of doubt that anyone will contradict me that you truly have fought the good fight you really have finished your course and undoubtedly you have kept the faith,” Noynoy said.

“Here is the Cory Aquino who knows how love each and every one of us. There is the Cory Aquino who is ready to do what is right never mind the consequences. There is the Cory Aquino who has the absolute faith in the Church and God. One who would wholeheartedly do the best she could and let God take care of the rest,” he said.

“Are we going to back to the anxiety? When my father died, we lost a leader, he was a strategist, he was our moral booster, but suddenly we lost the center of our world. I did not expect it would have a part two. Maybe I just do not want to face the truth,” the senator said.

“Do we really have to be sad because we have lost hope?” Noynoy asked. “Does the nation still have hope especially now that the one who led and inspired them is no longer around to help us everyday?”

He said looking at elementary school students who told him they were thankful for his mother touched his heart.

“Maybe we just have to bring these children closer to those who are playing blind and even deaf (to the realities),” he said.

He said the life of his mother should remind everyone that the Filipinos still got hope.

“Let it not be forgot that once there was a Camelot,” Aquino III said.

The senator recalled that his mother never turned her back when she needed to lead the Edsa revolution and even up to 2006 when there was a standoff at Fort Bonifacio to avoid bloodshed

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