Saturday, August 01, 2009

When Angels Learn To Cry: Corazon Aquino (1933-2009)

.:I Dreaded Having To Write This...:.

I said in my last entry, I'd blog about this for another day. I didn't realize that what I'd be writing was a eulogy, and not a tribute to a living icon as I would have hoped it to be.

I put it off for one day, and now, I'm too late. For that, I humbly apologize.

This year seems to be a year when some of the most influential people in this world have decided to leave this world for a better place beyond, and it's hard to catch your breath when it seems like they just come one after the other.

To name a few, you had names like Francis Magalona, David Carradine, and Michael Jackson all passing on this year so far. Michael Jackson is being somewhat touted as probably the most universally known person who was alive in my generation, perhaps only to be rivaled by one Pope John Paul II.

On a personal level, my Beloved's father passed on last Monday night as well, and I'm still recovering from that shock. It also got me to realizing how short life is, and allowed me to stop pointing fingers and just accept that it is what it is. Relationships come and go, but friendships, especially one such as that between My Beloved and I, are irreplaceable. It's a humbling realization that pride always loses the battle to mortality, and if life is so short, why would one wish to eradicate the great people in one's own life?

And now, those ranks are joined by one of the people whom I will always have great esteem for: Corazon C. Aquino, perhaps one of the greatest bastions of democracy in our generation.

It's easy to make a laundry list of mistakes she has made. A housewife whose obvious lack of administrative knowhow left her with no choice but to rely on her midnight cabinet, Cory may have not made the best of decisions during her 6-year term, but it's always easier to miss the forest for the trees.

In the end, democracy was restored from after the Marcoses ran it roughshod, and say what you will about Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, she knows all too well that thanks to Cory, she cannot expect to pull Marcos's old tricks and get away with it this time. People may seem apathetic now, people may seem mere "slacktivists", and all these ills are, in my estimate, a small price to pay for the fact that for all of Cory's faults, I am still free to write this eulogy about her that is not necessarily one that glosses over all her shortcomings. I recognize them, but I do not accept that it overrides her instrumental role in bringing democracy back into this country.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I was born Marcelle Bertrand in honor of Ninoy Aquino, my grandfather's second cousin who was shot a little over a month before I was born. He boarded a plane back to the Philippines using the name "Marcial Bonifacio". "Michael" was inserted in keeping with Catholic tradition of being named after saints. My name may be a pain to write on paper, but I am proud of it, and do my utmost to carry it with dignity. Cory was one of the most powerful galvanizing forces for EDSA 1, and with pride, I look back on the fact that as a 2-year old child, I was in EDSA 1.

I look at all this Cory-bashing, all these people who are taking the time to spit on her grave, not with sadness or anger, but with a sense of sardonic irony. Is it not a paradoxical celebration of Cory's indisputable role in the freedom we enjoy today precisely in that we are all free to malign her and belittle that achievement? To me, it is the truest and greatest acknowledgment of the freedom we currently enjoy and wish to safeguard and hone further from the clutches of the current powers that be. So I say to those who bash her, bash away, if you will. As a free man as you are, I will likewise choose to honor her in her passing instead.

I came home to the news in the cab after I came from a benefit standup show where I was heckled by one of the patrons who happened to be drunk. I look back at it, and the happy experiences I had after the whole night with friends old and new alike, and realize that all of this suddenly took on a new meaning when Corazon Aquino passed on.

This was no surprise to us by now. But it still hits us hard.

Thank you, Cory. Thank you from a man who can work for a transnational blog advertising company, do standup comedy, study Philosophy, teach, bend forks, do magic, sing terribly, dance horribly, love completely, emo like a bitch, look on at happy people bitterly, pray, question one's faith, reaffirm it, Rickroll people, play his favorite songs on radio in the dead of the night, live, hate, laugh, cry, hurt, forgive, ask for forgiveness, eat crow, pass on when the time comes, and everything else in between, THANKS TO YOU. Godspeed to you, and wherever you may be, know that there are people who, because of and in spite of the freedom we now enjoy thanks to you, choose to honor your memory rather than disregard it.

Thank you, and though you may have lost the battle against cancer, we know that you more than deserve the rest, because you fought a battle that was bigger than you or any single one of us: the battle for our freedom. There is no taking that away from you.

We love you, and we will miss you, Tita Cory.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


- Dylan Thomas, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

9 comments:

Ted Wahler said...

Powerful post. Well written and heartfelt.

You are strong to endure one thing after another, especially the loss of your father, and preserve such a clear perspective on life. Congratulations on that.

I wish you strength to keep strong and clear. Please be well.

Marcelle said...

I believe you may have misunderstood. I did not lose my father. My Beloved (i.e. my ex-girlfriend) did.

Though given how hard the news hit me, I guess it's almost as if my own father did pass on.

But thank you for the kind words.

MOMMY DHARLZ said...

this made me cry---

mine here http://eleanormordenoaguilar.blogspot.com/2009/07/farewell-madam.html

Patty Dayrit said...

Hey Marcelle, Patty here...

Just want to say, I found this post very meaningful and heartfelt.

deejay said...

one of my favorite poems, along with blake's the tyger.

agree with ted *points up* powerful. :D

Marcelle said...

@Mommy Dharlz: Cory was one of the few reasons I still don't fall into outright cynicism when it comes to this country.

@Patty: It's the least I could do for her.

@deejay: This poem has left its mark upon me, along with "The Love Song Of J. Alfred Proofrock".

Juegos de Ben 10 said...

One of my favorite poems.

mensajes claro said...

Its a great poem i love it.

Marcelle said...

@the last two commenters: I'm glad you liked Dylan Thomas's classic. I felt it was very appropriate.