Remembering President Cory

By Fr Filoteo Pelingon, MSC
Aug 10th 2009

S he called herself a simple housewife but she was a woman of strength and determination. This was what I saw when I first met Cory Aquino at her home in Times Street in August 1983, during the time her husband Ninoy was lying in state. I went there with the late Bishop Antonino Nepomuceno, OMI, to say mass for the slain Ninoy, in spite of the threat that we might be photographed and counted among the enemies of the Marcos regime. The widowed Cory and Ninoy’s mother Doña Aurora were a picture of prayerfulness and courage despite their grief. Cory took up the cudgels on behalf of her assassinated husband and inspired people to believe in her and her cause. She challenged the dictator and won.

CFA played its own small role in the campaign of Cory Aquino. After our visit to Times Street, we realized that history was unfolding — that many, many Filipinos had been shocked by Ninoy’s murder and were coming to pay their respects. Our Electronic Media staff decided to cover (on video) the wake and the funeral, interview Cory and her family, as well as some of the crowds of people who trooped to Times Street and Sto. Domingo Church. Our video documentary “11 Days In August” preserved for history (on non-digital U-matic) the period from the assassination to the massive funeral, and was released on videocassette (VHS and Betamax!) to schools, church groups and NGOs a few days after the funeral — the only such documentary at that time of controlled mass media. In fact, the video was circulated almost secretly (with no video credits for CFA), and could not be telecast until Cory Aquino took over in February 1986.

In November 1985, CFA joined other members of the Alternative Media network (later called People in Communication), in organizing the Snap Election-Snap Photo Contest. This was aimed at documenting possible incidents of cheating, harassment and abuses during the election in which Cory Aquino was a candidate against Marcos. She appreciated our efforts and in fact, used the photo exhibit to help document her victory. CFA also produced the documentary “People Power: the Philippine Experience”, which started out as a documentation of the election but went on to cover the EDSA Revolution and the oath-taking of Corazon Aquino as President of the Republic. CFA’s documentary was simulcast on two national TV networks a few weeks after all broadcast stations had been freed from Marcos government control.

President Cory acknowledged CFA’s contribution to the movement to restore democracy. She visited CFA to thank us for our role in disseminating information and raising people’s consciousness pre- and post-EDSA. She also invited CFA to Malacañang for some meetings and forums during her term. As a communication organization, CFA will always be grateful that media freedom was restored as a cornerstone of Philippine democracy. As a faith-based organization, CFA offers its prayers and hope that the shining example that President Cory set — as a moral servant-leader, caring mother and faithful daughter of the church — will live on in the hearts of millions of Filipinos.

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