The Grey Chronicles

2009.August.15

Cory and The Six Mistahs



Cory Yellow RibbonThis piece maybe too late to mourn for Cory Aquino, she died 01 August 2009 after a long battle with cancer, but at the least she will be remembered by multitudes of Filipinos, including me. She was the first female president of the Philippines and the first female president of any country in Asia. She and I never have personally met or talked, but if circumstances were different, I know that I could have kissed her hand to thank her, if she would have let me.

Cory Aquino: Woman of the YearTIME (1987) chose Corazón Cojuangco-Aquino as its Woman of the Year for 1986, recognizing her central role in one of the most compelling dramas in recent history — the widowed housewife who avenges her husband’s death by overthrowing the regime widely blamed for his murder. She was the first woman to be designated TIME’s Person of the Year since Queen Elizabeth II for 1952. When the January issue of TIME hit the streets, every Filipino was smiling like they have each won a million-dollar sweepstakes. That was a time when every Filipino was truly proud of being a Filipino.

After a popular uprising, People Power, that forced Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos from power, Cory Aquino was sworn in as the 11th President of the Third Philippine Republic on 25 February 1986, the same month and year when I was scheduled to graduate with the Sinagtala Class of 1986 from the Philippine Military Academy, Baguio City. Two years before that, however, I together with five other third-class cadets were charged with maltreating a plebe, a fourth-class man—a first year student. By the time Cory was being installed to the presidency, I was already back in my home city trying to complete my Electrical Engineering degree. This was one of the times when people could clearly remember the small details what they were doing then. When it was telecast live on TV, Cory Aquino took her oath, administered by Supreme Court Associate Justice Claudio Teehankee, in the morning of that day at the Club Filipino in San Juan, I was stepping out of my parents’ front door going to my engineering class. I had to back track my steps and sat down to watch and listen to her inauguration speech and first proclamations. In our family of five eligible voters, except our youngest sister who was only 16 then, we all voted her into office.

Months in her Presidency, one mistah, a PMA classmate, wrote to her about our 1984 serious physical injuries or hazing case and throwing in conspiracy by a military tribunal, which meted out three to six years incarceration with hard labor for the six of us, the infamous “Lords of Discipline” of PMA. The letter was a re-written version of our earlier plea for help, having been incarcerated with a number of the officers and men of the Armed Forces of the Philippines implicated with the Ninoy Aquino-Rolando Galman Murder Case in Camp Aguinaldo. This latter tidbit was incorporated in the revised version. Our first letter of plea for help was brought to her attention in December 1985 and we received an immediate reply promising a look-see from her private secretary, Maria Elena (“Ballsy”) Cruz, once Cory was elected into the presidency. Cory announced earlier in October 1985, while delivering a lecture on “My Role as Wife, Mother and Single Parent” at a University of the Philippines sorority, that she would stand for the presidency — provided that Marcos called a snap election and that 1 million people petitioned her (Time, 1987). Marcos called a snap election held on 07 February 1986. Four of my PMA colleagues, who remained in Manila, actively campaigned for her presidential bid. The six of us were among the 1 million, as my mistah claimed that they added by proxy two of us who went back to the province, me included. One of my mistahs even joined the force which raided Malacañang, hoping somewhere in the debris of shoes and chaos our acquittal papers were signed before the Marcoses fled for Hawaii.

The six of us were acquitted and was offered to go back to PMA. I begged off because going back would be repeating the second year in a four-year stint; meanwhile, I only had one year to finish my Electrical Engineering degree, which I did on 04 April 1988. All of us six never went back to PMA to become cadets again. Three became engineers—chemical, electrical and civil. One remained a military operative, one is now in the trucking business; one is presumed dead.

Only three are in constant touch. One even visited me in my home city one night, while I was still a graduating student; and we drank gin (never a drinker, but he wanted a taste) and reminisced the days (when everything was bars around us) till the wee hours the next morning. He was then connected with Fuller Paints, a chemical engineer, overseeing a boat paint job. He is now assigned in Singapore, married with two kids. The trucker became an NSC employee, too, but based in Makati, while I was Iligan based. When I went for an official business there, I was surprised when somebody called me mistah and found out that he had been with the NSC’s marketing department after graduation and a short stint at another firm. He and his wife visited my family during the feast of St. Michael Archangel in 2006. As usual, we re-told stories we never thought we would be telling again. The civil engineer is assumed to have been working abroad.

With Cory Aquino on our side, we knew then that life would be all right, our supposed serious crimes were demoted into misdemeanors, with already served jail time as punishment. The hard labor part was excised. Our case became a showcase because of the waning popular support for Marcos then. Every major television news and even local radio broadcasted our hazing case. My father even asked for the transcript of the radio report from the local news anchor, his friend.

When Cory Aquino died, I felt like my second mother died. Not only did she helped vindicate us; she became the “Mother of Democracy” not only of the Philippines; but she served as a shining beacon for similarly oppressed people all over the world. Says Congressman Stephen Solarz, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs (Time, 1987): “I have found that from Poland to Pakistan and from South Korea to South Africa, those who are committed to democracy see in Aquino a sense of enduring inspiration.”

One Cory quote I always bear in mind, even today: “One must be frank to be relevant.” I hope I am living up to her requirement. Cory Aquino not only deserve to be recognized as a national hero (Salaverria, 2009) as Congress and various city councils across Metro Manila filed resolutions to that effect. A modern Gabriela Silang. Maybe, we—Catholic Filipinos—should appeal to the Pope to have her as a candidate for sainthood. All the qualities of saints: devotion to God, tenacity, determination, humility, honesty, sincerity, patience, courage, determination, moral leadership, advocacy to peace and good governance, among several others are personified by Cory Aquino. A patron saint of presidents?


Notes:

Salaverria, Christine Avendaño Leila (2009). ‘Declare Cory Aquino a national hero’. Manila: Philippine Daily Inquirer, 05 August 2009. back to text.

Time Magazine (1987). Woman of the Year. New York: Time, 05 January 1987. back to text: 1 | 2 | 3.

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7 Comments »

  1. Ted Lecaros – marinduque89@gmail.com

    Comment by Ted — 2012.August.9 @ 04:06 | Reply

  2. As I was reading the comment, I was also recalling all the incidents that happened in 1986 from the EDSA People Power to the PMA Sinagtala Class ’86 graduation day in Baguio City where Cory Aquino was the commencement speaker and it was a milestone because it was the first official public function of Cory Aquino as the 11th Philippine President.
    I was party to these happenings because I was there in Quezon Avenue and EDSA during the People Power Revolution and we were also in the streets of Quezon City when the Marcoses fled from Malacanang.
    Secondly, I was a Kaydet Girl of then Cadet 1st class Dennis B. Villanueva,Sinagtala Class ’86 that is why I could very well feel the victory of People power and I witnessed the popularity of Gringo Honasan and Johnny Enrile soared to heights during the PMA Sinagtala Class ’86 graduation. People were allowed to gather at the Borromeo field to catch a glimpse of the EDSA heroes.
    And this year I was again at the PMA grandstand last February 19,2011 to celebrate the 25th Silver Anniversary of the PMA Sinagtala class ’86. Another milestone for the Sinagtala ’86 happened during the PMA Alumni Homecoming because the Guest of Honor was President Noynoy Aquino, the son of the mother of Democracy the late President Cory Aquino who graced their graduation from PMA 25 years ago.
    Although my late husband was no longer alive to celebrate this momentous event of their class, I felt I belong to participate in his absence. I am grateful to some members of the class who didn’t fail to remember my late husband and his family. My special thanks to mistahs like Jes Tapawan, Leouel Santos ,Picoy Cascolan, Zaldy Limoso, Alex Ambal and Bien and Maris Datuin and Sagat and Hermie Bongolan. They were all instrumental in my attendance to the Silver Jubilee Anniversary at PMA,Baguio City. May God bless you more for your thoughtfulness and graciousness.May your tribe increase,mistahs!!!!

    Comment by Evangeline O. Villanueva,RPh — 2011.March.3 @ 12:00 | Reply

    • Hi Evangeline, it’s nice to hear your comment. i heard the sad story of your late husband, Lt.Col.Dennis Villanueva, for me he was a true hero for he sacrifice his life in the line of duty, he died in an encounter in Basilan or Jolo early 2005.in fact i seen the news in TV Patrol that day.
      Good to hear that you were there last month in the PMA Borromeo Field, to witness the 25th Silver Jubilarian of your late husband class, PMA Sinagtala Class 86.
      If not for my family emergency in Iloilo, i was there also.
      By the way, i am 1 of the good friend of Bon Dan D. Chan, your husband mistah in Pma.
      I arrived in Mnl.last 02/17/2011 from Sfo,Ca. just to attend the Alumni Home Coming of PMA class 86 last Feb.19,2011. I have a booking hotel reservation in Baguio City thru the effort of Mrs.Betcha Chan, Bon wife.I should be joining with Bon family from Mnl. to Baguio last 02/18/2011. a month before my flight from here, my mother suffered a stroke in Iloilo, then i inform Bon & Betcha asap that i will cancel my Baguio trip, instead i did went home to Iloilo upon my arrival from here.
      a week later in Iloilo, Bon & Tootsie Casio meet me in Iloilo, then last 02/28/11 while i am in Mnl. i have a dinner with Bon entire family in Quezon City. Bon Drop off me in Naia 2 the next day 03/01/2011.

      as i remember in 1984, during Class 86 Southern Cruise in Iloilo, i meet some of Class86 member.
      I have a constant contact with Bon thru texting & email and if i arrive in Mnl., i try always to contact Tootsie C. thru Bon also.
      for me someday,i hope i could attend the activities of the PMA Class86 member & family and have a chance to say hi to you.
      By the way, Evangeline, someday if ever you have a chance to visit San Francisco, Ca. or Bay area or Silicon Valley, you are welcome to stay in our family small home.
      Bon & Family was here last year, they enter & exit in my area during there family vacation.
      How are the childrens doing now after the unexpected death of there beloved father?
      All I can say, be strong always and god is with you always.
      god bless you & your family.

      Thanks,
      Frsncis L. Ho

      Comment by Francisco L. Ho — 2011.March.16 @ 08:02 | Reply

    • too bad we didnt know about the silver anniversary of PMA we could have gone to Baguio to represent my brother Giovanni Siaotong, also a Sinagtala 86 member

      Comment by michelle — 2011.March.16 @ 17:23 | Reply

  3. […] only a few names who epitomized national pride comes to mind: Benigno ‘Ninoy’ Aquino and Cory Aquino. The former died because of his nationalism; the latter loved the country beyond […]

    Pingback by "Filipino Pride", Pepe Diokno, and The Grey Chronicles | Anti-Pinoy — 2010.June.17 @ 19:48 | Reply

  4. […] only a few names who epitomized national pride comes to mind: Benigno ‘Ninoy’ Aquino and Cory Aquino. The former died because of his nationalism; the latter loved the country beyond […]

    Pingback by “Filipino Pride”, Pepe Diokno, and The Grey Chronicles | Anti-Pinoy :) — 2010.April.5 @ 13:43 | Reply

  5. Hi Rey,
    i found your story that you have written in this website. thank you so much for the story and also about our late former Pres.Corazon C. Aquino.
    the same as you, i am also a supporter of the late Senator Ninoy Aquino and late Pres.Cory C. Aquino. Pres.Cory A. just finished the unfinished business of Ninoy A.in 1983 went he was assasinated in MIA tarmac that faithful Aug.21,1983. then, i was a commerce student in University of San Agustin in Iloilo City.
    Pres.Cory A. just fulfill what his late husband wish to do before he was gun down in MIA airport, that is to return the DEMOCRACY to the Filipino people.
    Also, if not of your dismissal in PMA class86 , you have a chance to meet her and hand out your PMA diploma in March 22,1986.
    i did try the PMA exam. in Iloilo City in 1980 ( for class 85 ) & 1981 ( class 86 )but no luck talaga. maybe military life is not mean to me.
    well, maybe are you familiar with the name of Cadet Bon Dan D.Chan, Virgilio B. Casio, Pedrito D. Alban, Ding Acio, Camilo Cascolan, Manuel Robles, Eleuterio Gutierrez,Zagat Bongolan, Arnold Fernandez, Emmauel Jocson,Arnel Tatel last name Naldoza & Santos ?
    i meet those cadets during their Southern Cruise in 1984 in Iloilo City.
    Cadet Chan is my schoolmate from Kindergarten til high school in a private chinese school. he belong to hi-school class 78 and i belong to class 79.
    some of your mistah in pma that i mention, some are still in active service,some left and are now in private life.
    i still have a contact with Bon Dan D. Chan ( now a colonel/captain )in Phil.Coast Guard assign in Wetern Visayas District Office ( region 6 )base in Iloilo City.
    DO you still remember Cadet Gabriel Velasco of Maharlika Class 84 ( from Iloilo also ) and Cadet Castriciones? they are also dismissed from PMA due to the hazing & death of Cadet Anres Ramos Jr. of class 85. Also was dismissed from Class 84 ,3 months prior to the graduation of class 84 was Cadet Nonito Tan Jr.also happen from Iloilo City.
    before Cadet G.Velasco enter in PMA, while he was in high school in Iloilo, i played basketball against him for 2 yrs.in a private school league in Iloilo City during late 70’s.
    Rey, do you also still remember Cadet Clement D. Jocson, Bartolome C.Tobias, Renato Gumban and John Tarroza ,all Illongos and from Class 85?
    Cadet Jocson was my groupmate sitting to each other during the pma exam.in 1980 toegther with his older brother Cadet E.Jocson (class86).
    Sad to say, Cadet Jocson was the 1st Casualty of PMA Sandiwa Class85 and died Feb.27 or 28,1986 in an ambushed in Kabankalan, Negros Occidental with Lt.Bing O.Banta ( Class 84 ).Lt.Banta survived the ambushed.they both assinged in 7thIB of PA.
    Cadet Tobias and Gumban are now a Sr.superintendent in pnp and both assinged in Pnp Recom 6 also in Iloilo City. Tobias is also a lawyer now. Cadet Tarroza retired from PA and now a businessman in Iloilo City.
    2 days ago i talk to Bon Dan Chan and have active contact with him.
    Rey, feel free to email me if you want and by the way, i am now based in Fremont, Ca.U.S.A and i immigrated here in 1988.
    Rey, sorry and apology for my long comment in your website.
    my email address : fnho@comcast.net
    by the way, go to the website of http://www.youtube.com, then type , NINOY AQUINO SPEECH IN L.A.,Feb.15,1981 and click.
    also type, Pres.Corazon C.Aquino Speech in U.S.Congress Sept.1986 and also type Pres.Corazon C.Aquino SONA speech 1991.
    Rey, it is very inspirational about the speech of Ninoy & Cory Aquino. be sure your computer have a speaker.
    thanks,francis l. ho

    Comment by francis l. ho — 2009.September.2 @ 08:13 | Reply


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