August, Cory and Ninoy | Inquirer Opinion
The Learning curve

August, Cory and Ninoy

Whenever the month of August nears, I am reminded of how significant a month it is for the Aquino family, with former president Cory Aquino passing on Aug. 1 (2009) and her husband, the former senator Ninoy Aquino, assassinated on Aug. 21 (1983). I cannot help but ask, thinking of the family lifestyle suddenly altered and rendered atypical by Ninoy being the dictator’s principal political foe: Just how much can a family endure? In one campaign speech after another in 1985, all Cory had to do was narrate the travails of her family, and she would later wonder why her audience was so moved.

I remember the pall of gloom that shrouded many of us when news of Cory’s death broke. We knew the prognosis was not rosy as we were kept updated during the daily Masses held at Greenbelt Chapel for her recovery, especially organized by her longtime secretary Margie Juico. I cannot forget bumping into Cory’s eldest daughter Ballsy Aquino Cruz at a stairwell of the Makati Medical Center, where the former president had been confined. We did not need to engage in conversation, as we usually did. Her body language was more than eloquent.


Cory’s passing seemed like the end of an era, for she had continued, even after her presidency, to fight for truth, justice and freedom for the country. All we wanted to do then was rush to the La Salle Green Hills chapel where her body lay in state, to express support and gratitude for all that she had done. She was a moral force, especially during the many periods of political turmoil in our midst. Hers may have been a flawed presidency, as all presidencies are, but how can anyone forget that were it not for this ordinary housewife garbed in yellow, the dictatorship would not have come to an end?

August is also a month to be remembered by the Aquinos for it was on Aug. 31, 1998, when Cory Aquino was honored with the Ramon Magsaysay Award for International Understanding. Rereading the citation in the yellowing (yes, an appropriate description) program I have kept, I marvelled at how it has captured why she remains in many hearts and minds today—a woman to be remembered, a woman to be admired:


“Cory Aquino could not possibly fulfill all the expectations she had awakened. No one knew this better than she. Yet as reality took its toll on the hopes of Edsa, she carried on buoyantly nevertheless. And consider, in the end, what she did manage to accomplish.

“She united the democratic opposition to dictatorship in the Philippines and led it to victory.

“She restored her country’s democratic institutions and its good name in the community of nations.

“She governed with integrity and the devout intention to do always what was best for the country and its people.

“And, when her term was over, she stepped down in favor of an elected

“No Asian leader of our time can claim as much.”

After People Power 1986, similar successful struggles for democracy occurred the world over, with the example of Edsa inspiring them. Cory did not have a direct role in those events, and this time it was no longer just the story of her family that she was narrating. “I offer my country’s story,” she had said.


A few months ago, I received a message in very colorful language, cursing me for being coauthor of the book “The Aquino Legacy” (Imprint Publishing, 2015), and saying the book pages were now being put to good use to wrap goods in the market. I ignored the message, although I wanted to reply that, concerned as I am with the challenge of marketing and promotion of books in the country, I was pleased that the book my husband Elfren and I had written on Ninoy and Cory Aquino got to the public market. Despite the yellow-bashing that has become the default mode these days, I continue to be proud of being associated with the color yellow, as all that we fought for during the years of the dictatorship continue to be ideals to strive for.

Neni Sta. Romana Cruz ( is chair of the National Book Development Board and a member of the Eggie Apostol Foundation.

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