The Time magazine has dubbed her as the saint of democracy. Some religious Filipinos even suggested that she be formally canonized as a Catholic saint, an intercessor between man and the divine. To some extent, she truly lived a holy life. Her simplicity, humility and spiritual convictions have won the admiration and served as inspiration to many. She was loved by a nation truly grateful of her sacrifices and legacy. When she was in her sickbed, the country’s church bells tolled in unison; holy masses were celebrated to desperately pray for her recovery. When she finally succumbed to colon cancer, Filipinos mourned for her as if they have lost a mother.
In life, she was the supportive and unassuming spouse of an otherwise high profile and ambitious politician. She was foremost a mother and a wife. She had not sought glory for herself. Although born in privilege and wealth, she was never excessive or extravagant. She also had her shares of suffering, especially when her husband was imprisoned for seven years and later martyred. The single assassin’s bullet might have killed a man but one death has awakened the nation. The apathy, cowardice and hopelessness of a people oppressed for so long were replaced by righteous anger.
The simple housewife became the rallying icon for change. Amidst falling confetti and cheering yellow-clad crowd, she triumphantly stood and dismantled the machinery of an oppressive and corrupt dictatorial regime. She reluctantly wore the vestments of power on behalf of the Filipino people. She presided over a country that was pillaged and left in terrible mess. Although her administration was far from perfect, she paved the way for the restoration and strengthening of democratic institutions. Although she worked hard to institutionalise people empowerment, it was a democracy that was still largely for the elite.
Even after joyfully stepping down from her official duties, she continued to be one of the guardians of freedom. Prayerful contemplations were not her only response to the national woes. She also resorted to the parliament of the streets whenever the situation called for it. Under the rain or sweltering heat, she was always ready to march in spite of her failing health.
In death, she again united the country and awakened it from apathy. The election of her son to the highest office of the land is a testament to the people’s sentiments and aspirations. The overwhelming mandate that her son now enjoys might have been just borrowed but it is a mandate based on the hopes and trust of millions on an ideal that was personified by this great woman.
It has been a year since she died but her legacy remains. She will continue to live in the pages of history books and immortalised in monuments. But more importantly, she will continue to live in our hearts. In death, she truly became the “corazon” (heart) of a nation.