Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Jericho March

Last Saturday, Cory proved again something all the saints and sages of this world have always known. The only monuments that last forever are those you build in the heart.

- Conrado De Quiros, Monuments


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It was the final weeks of the new millennium. The Impeachment Trial was in full swing and as part of the civil disobedience movement happening across the country, the pontifical university where I study sent its students - to join the thousands of other students and civilians from different civil society groups to march around the GSIS Building in CCP where the Senate was holding session.

Dubbed by its organizers as the "Jericho March" the movement intends to awaken the conscience of the Senators still loyal to the disgraced president. The civil society leaders believed that by bringing the people to the very halls where the impeachment trial is taking place, the shouts and cheers from the marchers would encourage the undecided lawmakers to follow their conscience and take the right side.

I took part in the Jericho March as someone from the Thomasian Contingent. Driven by my burning desire to be part of history, I even left my group so I could move in front of the column. There, prominent personalities abound. Since the movement was composed of students, professionals, leftist, religious orders, private citizens and businessmen, it is impossible for the opposition to snub the event.

As the blowers' horn booms for justice and the drummers pound their drums to the beat of rage, there she was, emerging behind a group of prominent politicians which include the midget who now occupies the highest chair in Malacanang. Clad in yellow and with a rosary in one hand, she joins in prayer as we approached the last few meters before the edifice of the Senate.

I was able to get close to the yellow-dressed woman thanks to those who were shoving and pushing each other as they chant the slogan of the day. "Patalsikin si Erap" they would yell in front of the Senate Building while raising their fist. Meanwhile, she, of all the people in front stayed calm and composed. On several occasions people would just mob her - especially when the kids from other universities caught her presence. She would beam her warmest smile and then proceed to engage these kids in an informal and yet historical small talk.

Her reception towards those around her gave me the confidence to approach the yellow clad lady. I cannot recall what I spoke but she did acknowledge my presence. She even asked if I got sun burned (or was it if I am already tired from walking the whole day) but the concern I felt was truly sincere.

No wonder, people basked at her shining presence.

Even after her passing.

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I went to the public viewing of this woman who made me feel I was part of history that afternoon of the Jericho March. Various media pundits (and politicians) see her as the mother of a divided nation and a beacon of enduring freedom. They see her as the unwavering flame that keeps the darkness at bay; She is the one who was always ready to stand when the Democracy she had restored appeared to be in peril. Poets and wordsmiths will pen the sweetest eulogies for her, but more than ever, people flocked at her coffin not only to give thanks, but to offer their sincerest gratitude to a woman who shaped a nation's life.

And I paid my respects not for the icon, but to an old friend who showed me a little grain of kindness when no one seemed to care about my place in the disobedience her allies called for in the first place.

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True to what they say on television. Humanity can be found in the long queue that snaked around Intramuros.

I arrived near the cathedral where the former president lie in state at past 1 in the morning. Believing that the line would be short, I even went to the gym to pump myself up before heading to the wake; A decision I would regret the moment I found myself waiting for my turn to see the coffin on the other side of the wall.

The night was chilly, the streets outside the puertas were empty, but along the long queue were vendors - visibly tired - yet profits swelled from their once-empty pockets. The heaving sky threatened to shower the mourners with icy waters but when raindrops began to fall, strangers huddle suddenly in shared umbrellas.

The line itself was devoid of any class or gender or even age. Men and women in different states of wealth queued without any question if the person next them lives in the shanties of Baseco or keeps a vacation house somewhere in the slopes of Tagaytay. The people in front were a group of executives from the Immigration. The guy beside me was a leftist during the 80's and the butch lesbians and effeminate gays behind were in their early twenties. They came as a group merely because Kris Aquino made them cry at her interview last weekend at the Buzz.

There were ladies, visibly at the prime of their age defying their limits just to see the woman lying in state. You see them struggling to find the end of the line, but with the queue starting at Starbucks near the National Press Club, they would have suffered from exhaustion long before they find their places.

"Lola dito na lang po kayo pumila sa tabi ko. Malayo pa ang dulo." No soul dared to complain the free pass I extended to one of the elderly women.

It was a solemn night of remembrance. In unity and in prayer, one could feel the spirit of the nation becoming one in paying their respects to the great leader. As it was said time and again and in all eternity, the selfless souls, no matter how they suffered in life, will be redeemed in their end.

Remembering the Cory that I knew and the things told about her, it never mattered even when I was only able to see her serene remains shortly before the Cathedral closes in for the night.

4 comments:

Cloud said...

i envy you... you had the chance to see her in person.

thanks for sharing this joms, howd i wish i was there to pay my gratitude and respect to her.

she indeed change our world, and she started with every simple act of random kindness.

i will miss her and lets keep her light shining brightly inside our hearts

Knox Galen said...

Cloud: More than her remains, its the spirit of the people who were there that filled my longings.

She will be missed. The country and the world is mourning at her passing.

blagadag said...

Mabuhay ha!

dencios said...

sa pictures ko lang nakikita ang dalamhati ng tao tas sa mga blogs ko nararamdaman ang damdamin pag nakakabasa. buti at naishare mo at nabasa na mga tulad kong ofw ang pagmamahal ng tao sa kanya. at least kahit paano e parang andiyan na din ako.

mabuhay ka para sa iyong concern at obserbasyon.

pasensya kana bopols ako sa english kaya tinagalog ko na talaga ang comment ko hehe

ingat!