Link:  2009-08-05 18:30:54

MANILA, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) — Heavy rains on Wednesday failed to keep thousands of Filipinos from gathering in the streets of Manila to join the funeral of respected former president Corazon Aquino who died of colon cancer on Saturday.

Filipinos paid their last respects to a national leader whom they fondly call “Tita Cory” (Auntie Cory) and leader of the historic People Power revolt in 1986 which toppled the 20-year rule of strongman Ferdinand Marcos. Masses were celebrated at the 400-hundred-year old Manila Cathedral church where her remains have been interred since Monday.

Yellow – the color associated with Aquino and the 1986 People Power – blanketed the country’s capital during the five-day wake that ended on Wednesday. Filipinos garbed in yellow T-shirts and hats, some carrying yellow balloons and flowers, greeted the funeral cortege passing through several points in Metro Manila.

“I like her. She’s very humble. She has done a lot of good things for our country,” said Corazon Vizcarra-Nelson, an 85 year-old retired music teacher and one of the many Filipinos who ignored the downpour and patiently awaited for the arrival of the funeral cortege in the Manila Memorial Park – where Aquino will be laid to rest next to her husband.

Aquino, the widow of the slain opposition leader Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., led a series of protests culminating to the 1986 People Power Revolt. And the woman, who once called herself a “plain housewife”, served for six years as president.

As a private citizen, she remained a moral force to reckon with. She was active in promoting microfinance to help the country’s poor, and leading (and inspiring) mass movements aimed at preserving the hard-won democracy in the Philippines. “We lost a national hero,” Rossana Llenado, entrepreneur and former student leader, who is mourning Aquino’s death, told Xinhua.

“I keep wondering if we can ever find a replacement, first for Ninoy, and then later, for Cory. We had our chance, Cory sacrificed so much for our country, did we waste it?” Llenado asked.

College instructor Lorella Aribit, who admires Cory, is relieved that the former President is now at peace. “It’s a good thing that her suffering (owing to her illness) is now over. But I’m sad that she’s gone because if she’s still alive she can still inspire a lot of Filipinos,” she said.

It is perhaps what many regard as selfless service to the country that endeared Aquino to many Filipinos. They grieved for her death but they were also thankful for what she had done.

This outpour of gratitude will be replicated in the many yellow banners and streamer sprinted with the words “Thank You Tita Cory” – that were displayed all over Metro Manila.

“I will be missing you,” a tearful Kris said, adding “but I will remind myself that my greatest gift to you will be living a life that will make you proud that I am your daughter.”    In a very emotional speech delivered during Wednesday’s mass, Kris Aquino, popular tv host and Aquino’s youngest child, thanked her mother for being with her through her many triumphs and trials.

Editor: Wang Guanqun