Cory Aquino crowd marks 11th death anniversary online

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MANILA, Philippines — Friends and family of the late President Corazon “Cory” Aquino quietly observed her 11th death anniversary with a livestreamed Holy Mass aired via Zoom on Saturday morning.

Columnist Deedee Siytangco, Cory’s spokesperson during her presidency, said family members, “colleagues and ex-Cabinet members” of her administration were invited to join the Mass celebrated by Aquino family friend Fr. Manuel “Manoling” Francisco.

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The virtual meeting was sponsored by the Ninoy and Cory Aquino Center for Leadership Foundation Inc.

“It was agreed there would be no get-together because of the [COVID-19 crisis]. And the family also did not want to endanger their friends. The family hopes that people still remember her, how Cory loved the Filipino people. And how Cory always encouraged others with the words, ‘Let’s pray’ every time there was a problem,” Siytangco said.

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The Aquino children traditionally observe the death anniversaries of their parents with a Mass at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City.

Aquino’s eldest daughter Elena “Ballsy” Aquino-Cruz acted as lector while grandson Justin Benigno “Jiggy” Aquino-Cruz read the first reading during the livestreamed Mass.

Aquino’s only son, former President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III, also attended the online Mass, his former deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte said.

HOLY MASS VIA ZOOM Fr.Manuel “Manoling” Francisco celebrates the livestreamed Holy Mass in observance of the 11th death anniversary of President Corazon Aquino. —JAMPAO REYES/CONTRIBUTOR

‘Perilous, exasperating times’

In his homily, Francisco said Filipinos “live in perilous, exasperating times as we witness national governments, including ours, fumble over the enemy they cannot see … We live in disconcerting times as we witness our national government whittle away the democratic space we have carved out and valiantly fought to protect and expand.”

The priest said the COVID-19 pandemic also showed the current administration’s “autocratic tendencies,” which has led to an atmosphere of “fear and indignation” that Cory Aquino “knew very well.”

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