Reflections on the life of a true citizen

It is hard to write a eulogy for someone you don’t know personally. That is why I have refrained from writing about Cory Aquino. What I know about her I have read in the papers and heard from people who knew her. But as a student of history, the life of Mrs. Aquino is full of good lessons for us Filipinos to learn. I caught the last part of the necrological services last night on the bus, on my way to Megamall. Two things stood out, and I want to ponder on these two. Let me ponder on the first one.

One thing that is consistently emerging from all the anecdotes, stories, and testimonies being shared by her family and friends is that she never shirked from her duty as a citizen of this country. After burying her husband, she could have retreated back in the United States, let their broken hearts heal, and live as normally as they could. It would have been easier to run away. But she chose to stay. When the clamor for her to run in the snap elections snowballed, she accepted with reluctance.

After her term, she could have chosen to live a private life, enjoying things that I am sure she had missed during her term. But when times were ambiguous and confusing, she chose to make a stand. Her son, Senator Benigno Aquino III related the story when she rushed to Fort Bonifacio during the 2006 Marine standoff. She could have chosen to stay at home and pray, but she went anyway, despite the inherent danger of the situation. When the Hello Garci scandal exploded, she could have chosen not to say anything, but instead she told Gloria Arroyo to resign. And when the NBN-ZTE scandal raged, she could have chosen to remain silent, but instead she supported Jun Lozada.

Someone said that for the former president, passivity and silence are not options for her. This is the single point that hit me, and it is stuck in my mind. I think this is the lesson that we should learn from Mrs. Aquino’s life. Because she cared for our country, she just could not stay silent and let these affront to our nation go on without opposition. She knows her duty as a citizen of this country. This is probably what we need to learn.

One more point. She was said to have exclaimed, “I thought my sacrifices have ended. There is no end to sacrifice.” As I was contemplating on that thought, I could not even imagine what would I do if I were in her situation. Those seven years of separation, seeing your loved one murdered, taking on a dictator, facing seven violent attempts to unseat her, facing the temptation of holding on to power – any weaker individual would have folded. I think I would.

What if I find myself facing such a crucial situation? God, I hope I will have the courage when that time comes.