Weeping nation bade farewell to Cory

PHILIPPINES NEWS SERVICE — BRAVING inhospitable weather, people from all walks of life joined the funeral procession of President Corazon Aquino yesterday to the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City where she was to be laid to rest beside her husband Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr.

At 11:30 a.m. Mrs. Aquino’s casket was brought to the waiting flat-bed truck from inside the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros where necrological rites for the late president were held.

Tens of thousands of people had visited the cathedral to file past the open coffin containing Aquino’s body ahead of the funeral rites.

Teresita Devantes, 73, queued for 15 hours outside the cathedral on Tuesday before she got her turn to pass by her idol’s open brown wooden casket at midnight.

”I’m really tired but I’m happy to be here,” she said.Wearing a yellow headband and a dress with a yellow floral design, the old woman told AFP she would accompany the cortege as far as she could.

Around 15,000 people gathered outside Manila Cathedral for the funeral ceremony.

”Where do we go from here? I am crying because we all lost a mother,” said a mourner outside clutching a rosary.University students clad in yellow were among the mourners, carrying placards that read: “Cory, you are not alone, we love you.”

People on tricycles, motorbikes, passenger buses and jeepneys and in private cars and others on foot joined the funeral march while a crowd estimated at more than 100,000 stood either side unmindful of the rain, holding aloft brightly colored umbrellas and flashing the two-finger Laban sign of the late president’s political party. Many people in the crowd and the funeral entourage sported yellow t-shirts, some wearing only slippers denoting they were common folk.

The truck carrying the casket of the former President was festooned with yellow flowers as the day before when it brought Mrs. Aquino from the De LaSalle University in Greenhills, San Juan, where her remains lay for public viewing, to the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros where it again lay in state. Uniformed soldiers from the four services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the National Police stood guard at the four corners of the flag-draped coffin.

A volley of cannon fire rent the air and Philippine Coast Guard and commercial ships sounded their horns as the Aquino cortege wended its way through Roxas Boulevard.

Yellow balloons were freed and dotted the sky and two choppers that hovered over Roxas Blvd. dropped yellow confetti over the truck carrying the casket of the late president.

A lively crowd lined the stretch of Roxas Blvd. from Anda Circle to Kalaw Street then all the way to President Quirino Avenue.

Students, employees, professionals and even members of various organizations wearing yellow clothes, yellow raincoats and yellow hats and caps crammed the boulevard waving yellow flags, streamers and banners with words expressing love for and gratitude to the beloved Tita Cory as early as before dawn yesterday.

Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III took the time to stop and deliver a brief message near his father’s statue at the corner of Padre Burgos Avenue and Roxas Blvd.

As of 11 a.m., NCRPO director, Chief Supt. Roberto L. Rosales estimated the crowd gathered around the Manila Cathdral and on Roxas Boulevard at 15,000 and growing.

Security was very tight in the area particularly inside the Manila Cathedral where dozens of politicians — friends and foes alike of Mrs. Aquino when she was still alive —gathered to pay their last respect for her. Among them were former Presidents Fidel V. Ramos and Joseph E. Estrada. Also present were Vice President Noli ‘Boy’ de Castro, Senators Manuel Vllar, Jokey Arroyo, Edgardo Angara, Allan Peter Cayetano, Mar Roxas, Bong Revilla and Loren Legarda, former Senators Franklin Drilon and Loi Ejercito, Mayors Alfredo Lim and Feliciano Belmonte and Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo. Also present was United States Ambasador Kristie Kelley

As of 3 p.m., NCRPO spokesman, Supt. Rommel Miranda said the crowd in Intramuros to Quirino Avenue grew to about 100,000; another 30,000 lined up along Osmena to Buendia Avenue; another 10,000 at the Sucat Interchange and the same number at the Manila Memorial Park.

“Farewell Cory, our last icon of democracy. We can only hope that from the mourner’s ranks will rise another leader, one as charismatic and as credible as you and Cardinal Sin, someone who can lead us out into the streets when our freedom is threatened anew,” a message circulated through text said.

The NCRPO deployed at least 680 policemen and 140 civilian volunteers to secure the memorial services.

Mrs. Aquino’s cortege reached the Manila Memorial Park at past 7 p.m., ending a journey memorable for the adoring crowds that made it impossible to move beyond a snail’s pace.Military honors were accorded the late president before she was placed beside her husband in a resting place befitting the simplicity that characterized her personality and life.