These past two months while on a 'self-imposed' leave from anything that has to do with the cyberspace had all my inboxes full of unopened emails and left all my other online presence gather dusts and cobwebs. I only get to read the most urgent and the most important ones.
I'm on the final pages of what I believe is the first-ever technical manual on Desert Coast Shrimp Harvest and Harvesting Management. I believe so, because after many years of browsing the internet, I could not find any references to what I am looking for.
This effort may not see the dawn of publication because of intellectual property issues but this will definitely give good information to those who will have the chance to get hold of it.
This morning, despite my preocuppation in the writing project, I opened a mail from my wife that she addressed to our three children and 'cc'ed' to me. Reading through the letter made me emotional and unknowingly saw myself shed a tear for the great woman she was writing about.
I have sought my wife's permission (Of course else I'll be held in contempt if I didn't!) to reprint here in my blog her timely letter for our kids.
5 August 2009
To my beloved kids Kevin, Gabrielle and Chloe,
When your Mommy is too choked with emotions to utter words, Mommy always resort to writing her thoughts and her feelings to convey what is in her heart. Thus, I am now writing this note with red and puffy eyes after crying a bucket. This is for you to read and if you can’t understand it now, maybe save it for the future when you have grown in years and in maturity to ponder and understand it better.
You may have been puzzled and bewildered this morning why I was crying and sobbing so hard in front of the tv set while watching intensely the last mass celebrated at the Manila Cathedral for the former Philippine President Corazon Aquino whose remains will be buried today. On our way home last night, I have already told you a bit of the history of the Martial Law years, the assassination of Ninoy Aquino in 1983 , the snap elections and the EDSA Revolution in 1986 where Cory Aquino was catapulted as a reluctant leader, the first woman President of the country. In the simplest terms I could muster, I explained that President Cory holds the venerable position in the country's history as the one who ousted the conjugal dictatorship of the Marcoses, brought back democracy and fundamental freedoms, re-establised the democratic institutions, as well as survived successfully seven coup attempts in her government. As the first woman Philippine president and with her bloodless people power revolutions, she became a venerated model worldwide -- a stature unequaled by her successors.
This might be too high-sounding for you to comprehend so let me tell you the significance of Pres. Cory Aquino in my life.
I was born in 1963 during the time when Ferdinand E. Marcos was the President of the Philippines and was still the same President throughout my growing years. I was in Grade 2 at Cebu Normal University, when Martial Law was declared and though I did not know what it meant at that time, what I knew was: classes were suspended for a number of days; that there was a curfew imposed and no one was allowed to go out of the house after midnight, there were several check-points; that people were getting hauled out of their homes, arrested and placed in stockades; that it was forbidden to say anything against the government. I was one of the so-called “Martial Law” babies and I grew up in the midst of trepidation and was fearful of the awesome powers of the Marcoses, the military generals and the high government officials.
After graduating in a Science high school, I was a recipient of a full national scholarship to become one of the five from Region 7 (Central Visayas region) who were sent to study a fisheries course at the premier state university, the University of the Philippines in Diliman. Your dad, also passed the same scholarship and was one of the scholars from Mindanao and we first met during the orientation for all the fisheries scholars in 1980. Your dad and our love story had been told to you so many times. It was in this school where I absorbed so much learning and knowledge and where I enjoyed academic freedom. It was also where I became more aware of the military atrocities; the abuses of the government officials; business dynasties that were built by friends of the Marcoses under the Martial Law regime. But I was too stymied or too afraid to join any activist group to denounce the dictatorship. It is also in this school that I saw and watched the two children of the Marcoses going in and out of their classrooms and meeting them in the hallways: Imee who was studying law and Irene who was enrolled in the College of Music at that time. They were always surrounded with tall and well-muscled bodyguards and they came in several black cars. With all the invitations of joining an activist group, I was not moved in being one of them as all I wanted was to maintain my scholarship by not getting any Final grade below 2.5 and to graduate and to please my father, your Papa Ponsing, whom I loved so dearly. Maybe because I am basically a talkative person and I am perpetually active in various school organizations and the student council, friends and relatives have been encouraging me to take up law. I remembered very clearly that I always retorted to them that I do not want to be in law school and later become a lawyer as the law is dead in the country and no one cannot get a fair trial nor find justice.
In August 21, 1983 oppositionist Ninoy Aquino was assassinated right in the tarmac when he flew home from exile in the US. I was in third year college at that time and witnessed how the Filipinos united in their cry for justice over the death of Ninoy. The world has not seen such collective sorrow drawn out to 12 hours of mournful marching. Under sun and rain, along 30 kilometers of asphalt streets beginning at Sto. Domingo church in Quezon City for the final rites at the Manila memorial park. Two million lined the streets. Many more listened to Catholic Radio Veritas, the one and only station that dared to report it, from beginning to end. The humble widow of Ninoy -- Cory Aquino was thrown in the limelight and was seen silently weeping and mourning for her husband. Their children wept by the side of their Mom, grieving with the death of their father. Kris Aquino, the youngest of the brood, was just about twelve years old at that time. There were allegations that it was the former General Fabian Ver, a very close ally of the Marcoses who hatched the assassination. Sadly, up to today, the truth as to who really ordered Ninoy’s assassination remained buried with the death of Ver and Marcos in the later years.
In 1986, President Ferdinand Marcos called for a snap elections—elections that were earlier than scheduled, in response to growing social unrest. Cory Aquino was the reluctant person who was moved by public clamor to challenge Marcos in the elections. I was already in Roxas City working for an Asian Development Bank-assisted special project of the government when Cory and her caravan passed by the place to campaign for the snap elections. That was the first and the last time that I was able to shake her hands and to see her face at a close range. Marcos was declared official winner of the election but was eventually ousted when it was alleged that he cheated in the elections. On Feb. 25, 1986, both Aquino and Marcos were inaugurated as president by their respective supporters but that same day Marcos fled the country. I vividly remembered that night when it was announced in the radio that Marcos and his family were airlifted from Malacanang to a US airbase and were later flown to Hawaii. I was so jubilant and was rejoicing with the rest of the locale of Roxas City and the whole nation. People were spilling out of the streets to dance and to shout with relief and happiness for it was a very memorable day in the history of our nation. It was freedom day for the Filipinos. It was only when the Marcoses left that real democracy was felt in our country. There was much hope and expectation for a better nation. Businessmen, scientists and technocrats who were in exile slowly came back to the Philippines to help in reconstructing back the nation.
With democracy, no one was considered to be above the law and that each person was ensured to enjoy his rights to life, liberty and property. It is in this prevailing environment, that your Daddy a few years later, prodded me again to go to law school and become a lawyer. I studied law from 1996 to 2000, became a lawyer in 2001, became a Graft Investigation and Prosecutor at the Office of the Ombudsman in August 2001 and was appointed in the judiciary as a Presiding Judge of a Municipal Circuit Trial Court six years later.
Now with the death of Cory Aquino and with the outpouring of love and gratitude of thousands of Filipinos who trooped to pay their last respects in La Salle gym and in Manila Cathedral and millions more who are now waiting by the side of the road (as I am writing this, the funeral cortege is still somewhere in Makati area. It took almost 8 hours for the cortege to arrive in the burial place) to catch a glimpse of her coffin bearing her remains, I was transported back to the years when I first came to know her and her vital role in the events of our history and my fierce sense of hope for a new country.
Cory Aquino had a left a legacy to us as the icon of democracy. Her style of leadership was guided by her principles of humility, integrity and nationalism and her deep faith which will be remembered forever. I just hope that with the death of Cory Aquino, the Filipino nation will be aroused from their slumber and apathy and be rekindled with the call for unity and to live for the principles and ideals of Cory, to help make this country a better nation, free from graft and corruption and a safer place for you to grow and live.
At the end of this note, I hope you have a better understanding now of not only why I cried but why Cory has a significant place in my heart and in the history of our country.