A pause for Cory

OLD1986 Cory campaign

(Lifted from my multiply)

I’m at my desk on the 31st floor of a building in Hong Kong, with a nice view of the mountains and the Victoria Harbour, and I’m all choked up. I’m not allowed to cry here because we have a meeting at 12 p.m. But how can one not shed tears?

I’m watching ANC’s live streaming of the Mass at the Manila Cathedral and Cory’s funeral cortege on my desktop and I am seeing something I see very rarely — Filipinos united and proud. Proud. PROUD. It’s an image that’s hard to conjure where I am.

Living in a very discriminatory territory where Filipinos are made to mop floors, beg for their food and wages, sleep on cold tiles with dogs, are regularly called stupid and poor and told to jump from a building when the window is not cleaned properly, PROUD is not something that comes to mind to describe and define us. Practical, yes. Hardworking, yes. Strong, brave, family-oriented, yes. But proud? Hardly.

And yet there they are, my kababayans back home, standing in the rain, wearing yellow, waving flags, crying, marching, declaring to the world that they are Filipinos, showing character, bearing hope, forgetting flaws, crossing political boundaries, uncaring whether they sit beside their enemies or allies. I see not politicians or the poor, fans or critics; I see only Filipinos united in mourning.

And this is what makes me want to cry.

How precious is this moment! How rare. Why can’t we be like this more often? Why can’t we become what Ninoy and Cory and all the others before them regard us to be? Filipinos are worth it. We are worth it. WE ARE.

And that does not change when we fly out and serve foreign masters (some of them idiots) who do not see that worth. It is in us, and it does not die or disappear when we are treated as less than we are. It is our great responsibility, therefore, our thank-you to those heroes we lay to rest, to carry ourselves with that dignity, that pride, that character that marks the proudest moments in our nation’s history. Wherever we are.

We are more than what the world thinks of us.

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