Tidbits on Ex-President Cory Aquino
By Rudy A. Arizala
01 August 2009
Aside from “Ode to Ex-Pres Corazon C. Aquino”, as additional tribute to her we may please reread the short essay “Private Citizen 'Cory' Aquino” which appeared on pages 2-3, The Need for Moral Recovery and Other Essays, (Ericsson Trade Systems, Inc., Printing Division, Makati City, 1994). It is an account when former Pres Cory Aquino visited New York City in October 1992, and members of the Fil-Am Community with the cooperation of the Philippine Consulate General hosted a “salo-salo”- get together in her honor at Kalayaan Hall, Philippine Center,
Although she was no longer President, she was practiclly mobbed by adoring people and held with high esteem and respect. Why?
The reason was aptly provided by an American lady observer – a member of the Board of Trustees of the Carnegie Council of Ethics where former President “Cory” Aquino also spoke inaugurating a hall dedicated to democracy. (Please see attached photo of ex-Pres Cory Aquino taken at the Carnegie Council of Ethics, New York.). The American lady said tome:
“Your Corazon C. Aquino, compared to other women world leaders, is not empty inside. She has that motherly love, compassion, strength of character and indomitable spirit to survive crisis and achieve the desired goals for the welfare and happiness of her country and people.”
Speaking of “motherly love”, I remember on 16 January 1991, I was summoned to Malacanang by Pres Corazon C. Aquino to give me instructions in connection with my assignment as Consul General of the Philippines in New York.
When I reported to her Office, she said with a motherly smile: “I told Raul (Foreign Secretary Raul S. Manglapus) that I need somebody in New York as Consul General and he mentioned your name to me. I thought I better see you personally and give you instructions before you leave for New York.”
Before I could say something, the President continued: “First, I would like you to make our Consulate General in New York accessible to all the people, especially to Filipinos; Second, encourage and help Filipinos remit their money to the Philippines through the banks; and Third, I would like you to correct immediately whatever adverse image or false information being said about the Philippines.”
She added: “You could report to me dirrectly. Please request Ms. Juico to give you the Fax number of my Office.”
I thanked her for her trust and confidence in me. Then she asked about my family and children. As a signal that my audience with her has come to an end, she asked me if there is anything I would like to take up with her or if I need anything else. I told the President that her instructions to me are very clear and I will do my best to perform my duties. As I take leave, she told me good luck and have a safe trip.
When I was already in New York City and Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991, to render financial assistance to the victims of the volcanic eruptions in the Philippines, the Philippine Consulate General with the collaboration of Ms. Lea Salonga who was at that time peforming in Broadway Show (“Miss Saigon”), held a benefit show wherein Ms. Salonga and some other Filipino actors and actresses participated. In one night, we were able to raise a considerable amount of money which we immediately sent to the Philippines.
Despite her busy schedules as President of the Philippines, Pres Corazon Aquino found time to write a letter of appreciation and thanks. In a letter dated 15 October 1991, under her own signature, we received a letter which stated, among others, as follows:
“Dear Consul General Arizala, “I would like to express on behalf of the Filipino people, our profound thanks and appreciation for your continuing concern and invaluable assistance for the victimss of the Mt. Pinatubo
eruptions. “x x x x x x x x
“The assistance you have extended us will go a long way in our relentless efforts to rehabilitate a once – productive land and people. Your concern is a wellspring of inspiration to our suffering countrymen.”
In 1988, before I was recalled to the home office and subsequently assigned as Consul General in New York City, I was the Philippine Ambassador to Chile. Before my mission ended, I joined a group of foreign ambassadors in Chile for a visit in Paraguay. While in Asuncion, Paraguay, I took a public bus or transport to go to the Office of “El Diario”- a national paper of Paraguay.
The bus was very crowded with passengers. Most of them having no seats but standing at the middle of the aisle of the bus holding on the long iron bar for support attached to the ceiling of the bus. A stout woman sitting near the aisle with bundles of vegetables and baskets of groceries asked me (in Spanish): “Are you a Koreano?” I replied: “No. I am a Filipino.”
“Ah!” she exclaimed with a wide smile: “Cory Aquino!” I nodded my head saying “She is our President. “
Having opened conversation with her and established a sort of rapport, I requested her to please let me know ahead of time when the office of “El Diario” newspaper is already near. The bus swayed and groaned as it climbed up a hill at the outskirts of Asuncion City. Finally, the stout lady with vegetables and groceries made signs to me by hand that at the next bus stop I would have to get off the bus.
After getting off the bus and as I walked toward the “El Diario” newspaper Office from the bus stop, I was amazed how a common housewife and vendor of vegetables and some groceries could be abreast with international news and know about “Cory Aquino” of the Philippines. Pres Aquino had made an impact among women not only in the Philippines but also as far as landlocked countries across the Pacific like Paraguay.
At that tme in 1988, I did not have an inkling that three years later, I would know personally Pres. Corazon C. Aquino and be assigned by her as Philippine Consul General in New York City. Indeed, as commented on to me by the Dean of the foreign diplomatic corps in Santiago, Chile, the Most Rev. Msgr. Sodano, the Papal Nuncio who later on became Vatican's Secretary of State, “Sr. Embajador mi amigo de Filipinas, diplomacy is full of impoderbles.”
Former Pres Corazon C. Aquino, indeed, is an “Icon of Democracy” not only in the Philippines but of the world as well. She has become a household name as far as Paraguay in South America.
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