“Quo vadis?”

She is very ill…

A rather forgetful and not-very-grateful Filipino nation is confronted with the looming mortality of one of the — if not THE — greatest living hero of our times.  Derided during the Marcos Era as an insignificant figment of the political opposition, greatly admired during her administration, and reviled as an impractical democratic idealist during the succeeding political regimes, She stubbornly clung to her personal morals and political ideals rendered almost irrelevant by reemergent political corruption and depravity.  She was the yellow-clad lady who once brought a new dawn of hope for the Filipino nation:  Maria Corazon “Cory” Cojuangco-Aquino, the noble widow of National Hero Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino.    

Despite everything negative that has been said about her, the Filipino People should, and must, always remember that Maria Corazon “Cory” Cojuangco-Aquino was the “raison d’etre” who led them during their Finest Hour exactly twenty-two years ago on 22 February 1986: when the Filipino was at his bravest, most principled, most enlightened, and most spiritual self; when All that was Best in the Filipino shone throughout an admiring, jubilant, and hopeful world!!!

For that one brief shining moment, The Filipino Everyman All over the World — “Juan de la Cruz” of the fields, the factories, the public markets and the “OFWs” of the factories, the ships, the foreign households stood proudly neck to neck and shoulder to shoulder alongside high officials, technocrats, industrialists, and the foreign employers — All were filled with Great Honor and Dignity at their Final Assertion of Democracy in our country, The Philippines.

Thank you so much for Everything, Cory.  I cannot speak for anyone else but I want you to know that I will always remember what We All — The Filipino People — went through together and that I will always be grateful.  For The Hope, if only for The Hope!!!

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“… and unto dust thou shalt return…”

You would think that immense wealth and great power would, could, and should confer immortality on an individual.  I, for one, have always thought so.

But there she rested in her elegant manse amidst everyone and everything she treasured most…   After all, she was one of the very grandest ladies Manila had ever known:  Consuelo Alejandra “Chito” Paterno Madrigal-Vazquez-Collantes.

Her ashes were finally interred at the Madrigal mausoleum in Alabang in a very elegant box of “kamagong” ebony wood decorated with ivory inlays made by Osmundo “Omeng” Esguerra, the antiquaire and furnituremaker to Manila high society. However, the expense and the elegance of it all did not change the fact that they were just ashes in a wooden box.

Food for thought…

“Sic transit gloria mundi”…

“Ahfee Hihstehr!” [ Happy Easter!” in Kapampangan ]

“Pabasa”

Misunderstood privilege

Everyone but everyone in town is currently reading — in the Internet — the ghastly revelations and experiences in “Manila sassiety” of a foreigner who once enjoyed “la vida loca” in Manila and Boracay…

There was nothing new and nothing earthshaking in his sordid retelling but it has nonetheless titillated all of Manila and the Filipinos worldwide, now hanging on tethers with his every spiteful word…

Despite thankfully not being a part of the hedonistic circles he described, I do understand the entire milieu.  And it did get me thinking, and thankful, that such situations are not in my realm of quotidian reality. Far too swank, too fast, too swish. To think that swank, fast, and swish have never been words associated with, or depictive of, polite society anywhere in the world.

Young and Fashionable Manila giggles with perverse delight at the whole affair, breezily dismissing it all as the entertaining chic-of-the-week, saying that they do it all anyway — the parties, the drugs, and the free sex, heterosexual and otherwise — so what’s the bother about it all…???

But in the hallowed enclaves of patrician Manila society — amidst the “beluga,” the “foie gras,” the white truffles, and the bubbling of the “Cristal Roederer” in the long, Carlos “Botong” V. Francisco-hung dining rooms, the whiffs of “Louis XIII” cognac and “Cohiba” cigars in the aromatic “narra”-paneled, Fernando Amorsolo and Vicente Manansala-hung libraries, the “Chanel,” the “Brioni,” the “Hermes” of the refined groups assembled — there are knowing glances, aristocratic smirks, expensive frowns, and rueful sighs at what has been generally regarded as irresponsible and distasteful behavior displayed by young individuals grudgingly acknowledged by society as somewhat their own.

It is a case of privilege misunderstood.

There is a patrician lady I know of distinguished family and impeccable lineage, still very rich in contemporary terms, who prides herself in her simple ways, aristocratic attitudes notwithstanding. We like to make fun behind her back because of her peculiar Old World disposition and insufferable snobbishness so anachronistic to these freewheeling times. But what she says unfailingly has stuck to my mind: “We have more than the others and we must be mindful of the responsibility that comes with it. Because we have been given more, it is our duty to help those with less, specially those with almost nothing. What we have is not meant for our luxury and self-indulgence, but for the upliftment of the less fortunate, specially the most unfortunate. We have a duty to make the most of ourselves with the best of education, hard work, professional achievement, and accumulation of resources all for the glory of God and the greater good of the community and country.”

I vividly recall the time when a dear, very sensible and very proper friend — one of the most patrician and affluent of the several heiresses of the venerable Lopez de Iloilo clan — firmly admonished her daughters to steer clear of people “who do not share our values” — the values of hard work, integrity, honesty, and simplicity. Without being in the least self-righteous, she proceeded to disallow contact even with relatives whom she sensed had questionable morals, false values, and debilitating psychological issues. Her authoritative behavior impressed me, and I realized that the traditional strength of the legendary Lopez ladies through the ages — Maria “Bibing” Lopez, Rosario “Sayong” Lopez de Santos, Paz Lopez de Laguda, Victoria Lopez de Araneta, Lilia Lopez de Jison — was presenting itself firsthand!!!