I REMEMBER being on assignment for the Cory Aquino funeral. I was standing in front of the memorial park where she would be laid to rest, awaiting the arrival of the funeral march.
I talked to a few people there, like the loquacious Imelda Palar. At the time of the funeral, Palar was 32 years old, meaning she was around nine when the events that triggered the EDSA uprising—which eventually shaped Cory Aquino into the sainted icon of democracy—unraveled.
“I fought with my husband so I could come here,” said Palar. “I wanted to see her one last time. She was a good president. Nobody came close to her. She was clean.”
Cavite resident Carmela Bascon, 46 at the time of the funeral, was in her 20s during EDSA I and was a little bit more aware of the significance of that historic 1986 moment than Palar.
“I was very much aware of the change that swept our country,” said the mother of two. “Everyone was at peace with each other after EDSA. We owe President Cory a big debt of gratitude.”
Businessman Antonio Razo, 51, also marched in 1983, the year Ninoy Aquino was assassinated. It was the martyred former senator’s death that is usually pointed out as the event that lit the wick of the ’86 uprising. He never thought he’d bury another Aquino.
“The difference between then and now was that in 1983, emotions were running high in the sense that people were mad,” said Razo, who seemed to know a lot of people in the sweaty crowd. “Now, it seems like the people feel sad because part of us is now gone.”
“No matter how many mistakes we committed after EDSA and how we never seemed to learn from them, we always felt somehow safe because we had Tita Cory,” he added.