Sunday, August 09, 2009

UAAP Basketball: Ateneo vs. La Salle... Cory wins!

In one rare moment for UAAP basketball, yellow was the color of the Araneta Coliseum during an Ateneo-La Salle game. It was a very touching opening, prayers led by both sides, while images of President Cory Aquino flashed on the screen. Then the stadium all sang an emotional Bayan Ko before the "hostilities" began.

Well, with the start of the game, all civility and proper behavior was thrown out the window like in all Ateneo-La Salle matches. At least for a few minutes, both sides were one. The power of Cory was most felt in the Big Dome! Cory wins! The country wins! And Ateneo wins in overtime, 76-72!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Cory Aquino unites the Philippines even in death

The nation came out in the thousands to say farewell to Cory Aquino last August 5. And we were there! We waited that day for several hours, together with the throng of people, for the funeral cortege of Cory Aquino to pass by Sucat.

The atmosphere was so electric! The nation was in total euphoria. I could not prevent my tears from flowing as I saw the cortege, not because I was sad that Cory passed away; but because I was happy Cory united the Philippine nation even in death.

It took over eight hours for the cortege to complete the 22-kilometer route from the Manila Cathedral to Manila Memorial Park. By the time it arrived in Sucat, it was already dark.

I am proud to have been part of Philippine history. Maraming salamat Cory Aquino!

Above is the billboard at the Sucat Exit which was installed by ActivAsia as its farewell to Cory. ActivAsia manages the North Philippines Visitors Bureau and the billboard advertising in the SLEX among others.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Cory Aquino's historic speech before the U.S. Congress

The Philippines was once a beacon of hope. Today, we desperately search for that lost hope. Just as Ninoy Aquino's death in 1983 unleashed a fiery passion for freedom and democracy, Cory Aquinos's passing away 26 years later today, has reawakened a nation that, just like before, has had enough.

Indeed, her death can serve as a catalyst for genuine change and political maturity in our country. That is if Filipinos ensure that truth and justice will prevail. We must demand from our leaders the utmost sincerity and unimpeachable integrity before they be allowed to shepherd our nation.

Sometimes, I think that Cory's death could not have come at a more opportune time, as our government began an onslaught of photographs and press releases trumpeting the "success" a U.S. trip that had nothing but superficial gains. It was at best, a photo opportunity for shallow bragging rights, done at the expense of Philippine taxpayers. If there was any trip by a Philippine president to the U.S. that had made the biggest impact, it was Cory's. Watching President Aquino's historic speech before the U.S. Congress on September 18, 1986 says it all. No need for government spin doctors here.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Cory Aquino (January 25, 1933 – August 1, 2009)

The Philippine nation mourns the loss of a true icon of democracy. Rich and poor, people continue to line up to pay their last respects to former president Corazon C. Aquino.

Today's generation of young people were born after the People Power Revolution of February 1986. So many do not feel the connection to the momentous events that took place that year. Although born during Martial Law, I was still six then. So my memories of what happened are a bit vague. But while reading some articles, things began to flashback.

In fact, even images of 1983 still linger. I remember people in Makati throwing confetti from the buildings while me and my mom were driving by. Curious as I was, I asked why all these people were throwing pieces of paper (mostly shredded telephone directories) from the buildings. They were angry because of Ninoy's assassination. Today, as Cory's funeral cortege passes by Makati, her remains will be met with the very same confetti that honored and encouraged her as a widow, presidential candidate, and the nation's conscience.

While on the way to Pampanga today, I encountered some traffic along EDSA and decided to take another route to the NLEX via Quezon Avenue. I noticed Times Street along EDSA and took this as a sign that I should stop by the house of Ninoy and Cory Aquino and pay my respects.

Indeed, the house is small and humble compared to those in the vicinity. A crowd had gathered outside. TV cameras continuously covered the arrival of people who leave flowers or light candles by the walls of the house. A historical marker for Ninoy Aquino stands as a poignant reminder that in this house lived a national hero.

Later in the evening, I received a message that the Upsilon Sigma Phi had been allowed special access to Cory Aquino's wake. Ninoy Aquino was a proud member of the Upsilon. And the brods were very appreciative to be given the chance to pay our respects. So I cut short my stay in Pampanga, immediately rushed back to Metro Manila and arrived at the gates of La Salle Greenhills just in time for the group to enter.

The atmosphere was very solemn. Indeed, there was a multitude of people from all walks of life. The original Namfrel blackboard is still there, the chalk entries immortalized in white paint as a stirring reminder that we were once a nation that fought and stood for what was right.

We only had a few seconds to pray in front of her coffin. I feel fortunate I got the chance.

I keep one cherished memento of her, an autograph I was able to get when she visited the Ateneo de Manila High School. As she passed through the corridors on the way out, I rushed to shake her hand. I almost lost this autograph due to some water damage which my room is so prone to. But thank God it's still intact.

I'm sad the family declined the state funeral she most definitely deserved. But I can't blame them. Kris Aquino puts it well, "Now she’s dead, you want to give her honor, but when she was still alive, you want her powerless." This government isn't fooling anyone except themselves.

August 5, 2009 has been declared a special non-working holiday to allow the nation to join her funeral.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Batanes: Around Mahatao, Ivana and Uyugan

I was in Batanes again last May for the Ultimate Philippines tour of the northernmost province of the country. As soon as our SEAIR flight landed in Basco, we went straight to Fundacion Pacita where we were going to stay for the next four days.

For the first day, we toured Batan Island, particularly the towns outside Basco. Just last November, I also did the same tour. So for more details about the places we visited, read Marlboro Country, Mahatao Church and more from Batan Island.

Our first stop was the Mahatao Church, a National Cultural Treasure. According to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), “ The church was built in the 19th century by the Dominicans and characterized by a stone structure in the courtyard used to house the beaterio, a local institution to assist in the work of the church. Elsewhere in the churchyard are stone monuments used perhaps as guiding lights for fishermen. The entire site gives a good idea of the simplicity of missionary life (as a counter-balance to the ‘baroque’ sensitiveness of more affluent areas).”

We then dropped by Ivana to visit the Ivana Church, Honesty Café where people pay for drinks and snacks they consume by honesty system since the store is unmanned, and the House of Dakay, said to be the oldest stone house in the town. The group got to meet its lone inhabitant, Lola Florestida Estrella who warmly welcomes visitors into her humble home.

The group then had a lunch picnic by the sea in Uyugan. I'll talk about all the great Ivatan food we ate during the whole tour in another post.

Passing through Uyugan town, we got to see the ruins of Songsong (a barangay destroyed by a tsunami in 1953), old stone houses in Barangay Itbud and the poblacion of Uyugan, and spectacular views of waves crashing on the jagged Batanes cliffs in Dekey a Kanayan.

The last stop of the group before proceeding back to the inn was Rakuh a Payaman commonly known as Marlboro Country. It’s one of the best views in Batanes, with cows and carabaos grazing, rolling hills, waves crashing on the shore, with a view of another quaint lighthouse built in the distinct Batanes style. In the evening, we had more Ivatan fare at Therese's Restaurant.

Part 2: Batanes adventure: Chavayan, Savidug, Nakabuang Beach and more from Sabtang
Part 3: Batanes adventure: Valugan Beach, Vayang, Nakamaya Burial Grounds, Diura Fishing Village and Naidi Hill

Related entries
Batanes, undiscovered paradise up north
Marlboro Country, Mahatao Church and more from Batan Island
Batanes stone houses in Savidug and Chavayan, Nakabuang Beach and more from Sabtang Island
Batanes hotels and restaurants plus exploring Batanes by bike
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