'Ako’y nagpapasalamat sa inyong lahat:' Transcript of Cory Aquino's last interview
Below is the full transcript of former president Corazon C. Aquino’s last full-length interview with GMA-7's Jessica Soho at the Aquino family home on Times St. in Quezon City, last September 3, 2008, for the public affairs special program Newsmakers.
Jessica: President Cory, thank you po for this interview. I remember that you were a very reluctant candidate.
Cory: Ay talaga (laughs).
Jessica: Ang tanong ko ho sa inyo ngayon, kailan ho kayo nag-decide and what made you decide na, “O sige na nga?"
Cory: Hindi, marami ngang nakipag-usap sa akin. Ang sinasabi na, “Kailangan ikaw, dahil ang hinahanap ng tao ay isang kandidato na, para bang opposite of Marcos." Siguro akala nila ako na nga iyon dahil unang-una, ayoko kumandidato. Pangalawa, I have never been in politics before, except as the wife of Ninoy at hindi talaga ako mahilig magtalumpati. Sabi ko, “Pumili na lang kayo ng iba, tutulong na lang ako." Kaya lamang, sinasabi nila, ‘pag iyong iba, sasabihin “Kasama naman dati ni Marcos iyan." Parang it was very clear to me or maliwanag na maliwanag sa akin na ang kandidato namin ay (dapat) walang pinagdaanan na kasama sa grupo ni Marcos or sana nga, isang tao na ibang-iba kay Marcos.
Jessica: At what point po did you decide na, “O sige na, mukhang wala na itong atrasan?" Naalala niyo pa ho ba iyong moment na iyon, na parang nagkaroon kayo ng epiphany, so to speak?
Cory: Ah hindi, dahil una nga, iyong ibang mga kaibigan ko doon, sinasabi na “Huwag mo nang sabihin na hindi ka kakandidato kung hindi, mawawalan ng pag-asa ang mga tao at hindi na sasama dito sa ating mga rally." Sabi ko, “Oo, sige." This was before the Sigma Delta of UP. Si Betty Belmonte ang nangumbida sa akin at ang tanong sa akin ay, “Will there be any conditions that you will be agreeing to run?" Naisip ko, siguro kung ang dalawang bagay ang mangyayari, na magkakaroon ng snap elections at… Ano na nga ba iyong sabi ko? (laughs)
Jessica: Kung magkakaroon ng 1 million signatures.
Cory: Oo, at kung magkakaroon ng 1 million signatures. Kasi iniisip ko naman, hindi naman magkakaroon ng snap elections at saka iyong one million signatures, medyo mahirap din iyon. Kaya parang I felt I was on safe ground. Kaya lang, ang alam ko noon si Chino Roces ang mahigpit na nagsasabi sa akin, “Huwag mo sabihin na hindi kasi mawawalan ng pag-asa ang ating mga kababayan."
Jessica: Naalala niyo ho ba that it was one of our reporters in GMA who asked you that question?
Cory: No, I didn’t know that.
Jessica: It was Jimmy Gil who asked you.
Cory: Really? “Under any conditions?"
Jessica: And dun niyo po exactly sinabi raw na one million signatures.
Cory: Oo, at saka kailangan may snap elections. Kasi sa palagay ko noon, parang imposible mangyari iyon eh, na patatawag si Marcos ng snap elections. Okay pa naman siya hanggang ’87. And then iyong one million signatures medyo mahirap yata iyon.
Jessica: So suntok sa buwan ho talaga iyon?
Cory: Iniisip ko talaga that this will be on safe ground, na parang makakaligtas na ako dito.
Jessica: When it became apparent na madali lang pala ho kumuha ng one million signatures…
Cory: Ay hindi rin, dahil noong araw, takot ang mga tao kasi siyempre, isusulat mo ang pangalan mo dun, eh baka maaresto ka dahil Martial Law pa rin. Kaya medyo nahirapan sa umpisa pero nakakasiguro ka naman na talagang buo-buo ang suporta sa iyo dahil parang risking their lives.
JS: Pero nung nakuha na nga po iyong one million, nagsisi ho ba kayo?
Cory: Ah hindi but before that, dasal na ako nang dasal. Sinabi ko doon sa aking spiritual adviser na siguro I’d like to pray at the Pink Sisters for one day. So sabi niya, “Sige, I’ll give you some books that you can read while you are there."
Sabi ko, “Atsaka gusto ko rin mag-fasting. Ayoko na kumain, parang sacrifice na rin iyon." Pero sabi niya “Siguro kainin mo kung ano ibibigay sa iyo ng mga madre dahil mapapahiya naman sila." Sabi ko, “Siguro kahit sabaw na lang at crackers."
So I remember I had cream of mushroom soup and crackers but to this day, I consider that iyon ang araw na buong-buo hindi lang kalooban ko, but soul and body were together in just offering myself to the Lord and asking for His help.
I prayed for everybody I knew. Kasi from 9 to 5, never pa naman ako nagdasal nang ganoon katagal. I was all alone, near the sacristy, basta nakaluhod ako doon, kitang-kita ko iyong blessed sacrament. Pinagdasal ko lahat. Pinagdasal ko iyong mga hindi maganda ang ipinakita sa amin o pinahirapan ang buhay namin ni Ninoy. Pinagdasal ko rin naman ang lahat ng tumulong sa amin, lahat ng mga kamag-anak ko, lahat ng mga kaibigan ko, talagang the whole day. And I hope that day will come again when I can pray for everybody. I have not been able to do that dahil ‘di naman ako nagna-9 to 5 ngayon eh, so I hope that day will come.
Jessica: Ma’am ‘eto na, you’ve thrown the towel, so to speak. Wala nang atrasan. Suddenly, your life is turned around. From a very private person, you’ve suddenly become very public and running for president, hanggang nanalo kayo as president. What was that like for you?
Cory: Ay talagang ibang-iba talaga ang buhay ko noon at sinabi ko sa mga anak ko, “Lahat ng pwedeng magtalumpati, magtalumpati kayo dahil imposible ko malibot ang buong bayan, dahil 60 days, wala naman tayong mga sasakyan." Kung minsan nakakahiram ako ng eroplano o helicopter pero kadalasan, kamukha nung nagpunta ako sa Mindanao, 12 days na hindi na ako bumalik dito.
At ang malungkot noon, dahil maliit lang ang eroplano na nahiram namin, tatlong damit lang ang nadala ko na dilaw. Eh kung minsan, nakakapaglaba kami, kung minsan hindi. Iyong kasama ko sasabihin, “Uy maswerte tayo may washing machine itong titrhan natin." Every night kasi, ibang bahay. So, ako noon, basta malabhan, pero kung minsan, wear and wear, hindi na wash and wear. Kaya sabi ko sana hindi na ako maamoy ng mga tao dito but sa kagandahang loob na ipinakita sa akin ng mamamayan, talagang inisip ko, “Naku kung ganito kagaling ang reception sa akin, baka naman may pag-asa ako."
In fact, doon sa isang pineapple plantation sa Mindanao, eh di nagsasalita na ako. Binibigay ko iyong dati kong sinasabi – kung ano mga nangyari sa amin noong Martial
Law, na nakulong si Ninoy, at iyon nga, napatay siya. Pero sabi ko, “Kaming mag-iina, ako at ang mga anak ko, ay talagang pinagsisikapan naming maibalik ang demokrasya."
Tapos nakita ko, medyo umaambon-ambon pa noon e, may isang bucket na pinapasa-pasa doon ng mga taong nakikinig sa akin. Sabi ko, “Ano kaya ginagawa nila?" Pero sige pa rin ako doon sa aking talumpati. Ang talumpati ko naman parang kwento ng aking buhay at buhay ni Ninoy lalong-lalo na nung nasa piitan siya. Pagkatapos, nung natapos ang aking talumpati, umakyat iyong barangay captain, binigyan ako ng isang bilao na saging at pineapple. Nagpasalamat naman ako. Pagkatapos, merong nag-abot sa kanya nung plastic bucket nga na nakikita ko. Sabi, “Para sa iyo ito." Nung tinignan ko, mga piso. Noong araw, piso pa iyong mga bills, atsaka coins.
Alam mo talaga, parang gusto kong maiyak dahil ang hirap nila yet they were giving whatever they had to me. Kaya talagang sabi ko, “Naku naman, ang bait nitong mga tao rito." Pag-uwi ko, I remember telling Ballsy, “Mukhang may chance nga ako." Sabi ko, “Biruin mo naman itong ginawa sa akin, hirap na hirap sila, bibigay pa nila kung ano iyong konting pera nila sa akin."
Itong mga anak ko, siguro sabi, “Pagbigyan na lang natin si Mommy," because nobody was giving me a chance at all. But because seeing those people be so kind to me, talagang sabi ko, “Wow, naghihirap sila pero inalay pa sa akin kung anuman ang meron sila."
Jessica: Totoo ho ba na si Kris lang ang pabor sa inyong tumakbo noon?
Cory: Oo, kasi pagkagaling ko nga sa Pink Sisters, sinabi ko sa mga anak ko, “Palagay ko, kailangan na nga akong kumandidato. Hindi alam ng Daddy (referring to Ninoy) na ako ang magiging kandidato pero ang gusto nating lahat ay maibalik ang demokrasya." Tapos si Ballsy, although she doesn’t remember that, she said, “Mom, haven’t we sacrificed enough?" sabi niyang ganoon. Tapos si Kris sabi niya, “Go for it Mom!" Pero ang ibang anak ko, “Naku ano na naman itong papasukan ko?" Pero after that, I explained to them that this is what Daddy was hoping for when he came back – to talk to Marcos, to try to persuade him to offer elections so that we can go back to the democracy that we once knew.
But noon sinabi ko na, “Inaasahan ko na kakampanya kayo lahat, at lahat naman kayo marunong magtalumpati dahil imposible akong mag-isang makalibot sa buong bansa." So kanya-kanya silang lakad kung saan-saan. Ang kasama ko iyong asawa ni Ballsy, si Eldon, dahil sabi niya, “Mom ‘di ko talaga yata kaya magtalumpati." So siya bale ang bodyguard ko at dahil kung minsan aakyat ako ng truck. Noon, ewan ko ba kung sino ang nagsabi sa akin, “Kung presidential candidate ka, hindi ka pwede magpantalon." E alam mo na naman nung 19-forgotten, so hindi naman pwedeng slim skirt kasi paano ako aakyat dun sa truck so medyo naka-full. Pag-ihip ng hangin, ang ginagawa ni Eldon, tinatanganan niya na huwag lumipad iyong aking skirt.
Ang pinakamagandang nangyari sa akin nun, I lost 12 pounds, dahil halos walang tulog atsaka kakain kami siguro sa gabi na lang dahil mahirap eh. During the day, ni ayokong uminom eh…Kung babae ka nga noong panahong iyon, medyo mahirap.
Jessica: Ma’am, they say that your victory as president was the best revenge sa mga Marcos. Did you feel that way?
Cory: Hindi naman iyong revenge ang hinahanap ko eh. Talagang gusto ko, sabi ko, “Ituloy natin ang laban ni Ninoy." Ang laban nga niya ay upang maibalik ang ating demokrasya. At naku naman, iyong mga kaibigan ko na foreign correspondents, sabi nila, “Cory you’re popular but there’s no way you can win." Dahil unang-una, kontrolado lahat ni Marcos. I don’t think I was ever in television.
JS: It was never the motivation for you that he made your husband and your family suffer?
Cory: Ah no, bahala na ang Diyos doon. At ano naman ang magagawa ko? Maski na. That was never in my mind. Even Ninoy. The fact that he was willing to come back here and ask Marcos to talk to him, to try to convince him that it was time to call for elections so that we can return to democracy. Sinabi ko pa noon na “Ninoy, bakit mo inaakala na kakausapin ka? Sino ka naman?" Tapos sabi niya, “No, I have the moral ascendancy over him. Nakatira tayo dito sa America. Okay tayo. We’re living in a free country. We’re free to do whatever we want and I’m willing to give all of that up just for the chance to talk to him." Eh sabi ko, “O sige." Pero talagang iniisip ko, “Bakit naman siya kakausapin ni Marcos?"
Jessica: Ma’am nung president po kayo, do you remember the highs and the lows?
Cory: Ah yah.
Jessica: Let’s start with the highs.
Cory: O sige. Well first, iyong nakita mo ang mga mamamayan na talagang nagpunta sila sa EDSA at sinisigaw iyong pangalan mo at talagang nakahanda sila na ialay ang lahat pati ang kanilang mga buhay upang maibalik ang demokrasya. Siguro the highs, well, I have to admit when I went to the United States.
Dapat talaga November ako bibisita doon e, pero medyo nagwo-worry ako. Sabi ko nga doon sa isang cabinet meeting that I’d like to advance my visit dahil baka makalimutan na ako ng tao e. Baka pagpunta ko sa America, sabihin “Cory who?"
Medyo nininerbiyos ako na baka hindi na ako matandaan. Pagkatapos, inutusan ko si Rene Saguisag, Ching Escaler and Teddy Boy, sabi ko baka pwede kayo pumunta sa Washington. Tanungin niyo kay George Shultz baka pwede i-advance ang aking visit dahil nga ang ikinatatakot ko, baka makalimutan na ng tao, sasabihin “Cory, Cory who?"
So from November, naging September. At alam mo, ay naku Jessica, ang swerte ko talaga. If I had gone in November, that was the time of the Iran-Contra scandal. Eh sino ang papansin sa akin noon? It’s just that I was afraid I would not be recognized kaya tinanong ko kung pwede ako pumunta ng September, pumayag naman sila. Basta imbes na state visit, official visit daw. Sabi ko, “Ano ba ang kaibahan nun?" Kung official, lunch imbes na dinner with the president. Ang dinner mo, with the secretary of state. So sabi ko, okay lang sa akin iyon.
And then ang swerte ko pa rin. Iyong Speaker of the House was Tip O’Neill from Massachusetts. And komo nga tumira kami sa Boston, plus the fact that both of us received honorary doctorates in Stonehill College, at the same time. At that time, I was just the widow of Ninoy, but he was very nice. Katoliko din (siya) at alam niyang tumira kami sa Boston. Kasi when you’re invited to address Congress, it has to be the speaker to invite you, hindi ang presidente.
Jessica: Naalala niyo pa that moment when you entered Congress?
Cory: Ay talaga!
Jessica: And there was a standing ovation.
Cory: Oo e, naku! Parang “Wow!" At alam mo, ang nakakagulat noon Jessica, wala akong kanerbiyos-nerbiyos nun eh. Sabi ko, “Bakit kaya ganito ang feeling ko?" Although the day before, tinanong sa akin ni George Shultz, “Would you like to rehearse on my teleprompters?" Sabi ko, “Oh yes. Thank you very much!" Dahil wala naman akong bitbit na teleprompter.
Jessica: Si George Shultz daw may Cory Aquino doll on his lapel?
Cory: Ay talaga? Sa kabaitan naman sa akin, pinadala iyong technicians niya at tinanong pa sa akin, “Ma’am may we know what size heels, how many inches?" So kaya tamang-tama kung saan nilagay iyong (telemprompters).
Noong araw, medyo luma pa iyong mga teleprompters. Hindi kamukha ngayon na hindi mo na makikita. Sinabi nga ng mga anak ko, dahil ang kasama ko lang noon si Viel, yung mga nandito sabi, “Mom, ang akala raw talaga ng tao minemorya mo ang speech mo," dahil hindi nga nakikita. Siguro mas matagal na silang gumagamit ng teleprompter.
Pero everything just went well at talagang, “Wow, is this all happening to me?" At nakakagulat nga na kilala pala ako. Noong araw, asawa ako ni Ninoy or ngayon naman, sasabihin mommy ako ni Kris but that was really, I just felt so (shakes head). Then, of course, making it to the cover of TIME magazine. That had to be really high.
Noong araw, iyong malagay lang iyong pangalan ko sa TIME o Newsweek, tuwang-tuwa na ako eh dahil nauna si Kris before Ninoy and me to make it to TIME and Newsweek, and she made it to the cover – front page of New York Times, ahead of Ninoy and me.
Kaya nung maliit iyang si Kris, when she was worried, “Mom, mabuti na lang hindi ako tinawag ng teacher ko."
“E kasi tatanungin kung ano ginagawa ng Daddy e."
“O eh di sabihin mo lang, he’s a political prisoner."
“Mom, my classmates don’t know what political prisoners are, hindi sila nagbabasa ng TIME at Newsweek." She was six years old at that time. Sabi ko, “Kris maraming hindi nagbabasa ng TIME."
Tapos parang tiningnan niya dahil I would let her read kung ano iyong mga name-mention about Ninoy. “O eto Kris, basahin mo".
But anyway it was just so unbelievable. Me? On the cover of Time magazine? Tapos nagpadala na nga ng photographer dito tapos she followed me around for a week or two, everyday. Basta sabi niya, “Please don’t pay any attention to me I just want to take all of these shots." Parang after that, I can die now.
Jessica: Ma’am unfortunately, there were also the lows.
Cory: Ah yah, oo.
Jessica: Naalala niyo rin ho ba iyong mga hindi magandang nangyari?
Cory: Ah oo. Iyong sa Mendiola, masyadong masakit sa akin iyon. ‘Di ko naman nais na gawin iyon pero may talagang nanggulo doon. Tapos iyong rally doon sa Luneta na napatay pa iyong isang nakasuot ng yellow shirt. And then of course the coup attempts were the worst.
Jessica: Na-trauma ho ba kayo doon sa coup attempts? Especially that one where…
Jessica: Noynoy was even shot?
Cory: Actually, the worst was 1989. Akala ko baka ito na iyong goodbye but I was determined not to leave Malacañang and maski iyong mga cabinet members ko sinasabi, “Ma’am siguro umalis na kayo dito." Sabi ko, “Hindi. Tignan niyo si Marcos umalis, anong nangyari sa kaniya? And no, no. I feel it’s my duty to stay here. And anyway, I’m prepared."
So tinawag ko nga iyong si Father Bobby Perez ng San Beda. Pinapunta ko doon sa Arlegui. Sabi ko, “Father, can you give us the final blessing?" So ang kasama ko nun sina Viel, Kris, and Noynoy. So binless na nga kami. Parang iniisip ko, if this is going to be the last then I told him, “Father can you take care of these for me?" Iyong diaries ni Ninoy, ‘tsaka diaries ko. Iniisip ko, “What is it that I don’t want to lose or what is it that I want to save?" Sabi ko, “Siguro itong mga diaries ko dahil they’re irreplaceable." So iyon ang mga pinatago ko sa kanya. Then it was over, but at that time, kung ganito nga talaga ang mangyayari, so be it. But I was determined not to leave.
Jessica: Do you agonize over those coup attempts, kung bakit nangyari ho sila and if you, as president, would have been able to do anything to avoid or prevent them?
Cory: Wala eh, because they were determined to take over talaga eh. Eh gusto naman nila eh. Akala nila, people power then they would take over. Nakalimutan nila na kung wala iyong people power doon, eh di natodas na rin sila.
Jessica: Ma’am sorry ha, because I know this is a very sensitive issue but iyong kay Louie Beltran…
Cory: Alam mo iyon, because it was really a lie. Kaya nga pinakita ko iyong ilalim ng kama ko. Paano ka naman makakasingit doon eh may platform iyon? At of course, medyo na-upset si Col. Gazmin noon dahil ipinakita ko iyong buong bedroom ko. Then after that, if he can just say that he made a mistake. Eh ayaw naman niya, and he was saying that it was a figure of speech. Sabi ko hindi naman ganoon ang figure of speech and at any rate … kasi before, Louie and I were such good friends.
Not that I wished him harm but it’s just that, siyempre naman you were commander-in-chief. Ang nangyayari nung time na iyon, babasahin sa peryodiko. Iyong mga radio commentators, uulit-ulitin nila iyon, “Ito ang sinabi ni Louie Beltran, na nagtago si Pangulong Cory sa ilalim ng kama niya." Anong iisipin ng mga sundalo na nandoon sa Mindanao? Na handa sila, talagang they risked their lives, tapos ito palang commander-in-chief nagtatago lang? So I could not let that go. In fact my lawyers told me, “Ma’am don’t you want to sleep over this and maybe tomorrow…" “No, no I want it done now because I don’t want them quoting from this column." And I called up Betty Belmonte. Sabi ko, “Betty, I don’t know why he wrote this."
Jessica: Sabi ho ni Ballsy, that was the only time na nakita ho yata ng public how upset you were.
Cory: Ay talaga. Eh di pagdating ko, tinawag ko nga lahat, wala pa nga noon si Teddy Benigno eh. I think he was somewhere else, and I was like, “Naku, ayusin niyo ito ha. ‘Tsaka kung sino ang kailangan ko kausapin, tawagin niyo."
JS: Rare daw iyon Ma’am, na nagpapakita kayo ng galit sa public?
Cory: Yah, pero talagang nagalit ako noon e. Hindi bale sana kung totoo eh, or there was a semblance of truth. Pero ano ba naman? Hindi ba pwedeng mag-check man lang? Dahil as I said, we were friends before. He could very well have sent word and asked kung totoo ba iyon. Hindi eh, figure of speech daw eh. Pero paano ko sasabihin sa mga sundalo, “Oy, figure of speech lang iyon ha, ‘wag kayong maniniwala doon." So, I felt it was something I had to do and do right away.
JS: How would you describe your management and leadership style when you were president?
Cory: Ang very clear sa kanilang lahat na first, we do everything not only according to the law but we do what is right and honest. At nalaman nila nung umpisa na may nagpapadala ng regalo sa akin, siguro mga damit, pinasauli ko and some people were hurt by that pero I said, “Hindi na. Para maliwanag na whatever it is, kailangan walang mga regalo-regalo." And I remember, we were I think in Iloilo – basta one Visayan province. Then Mita Pardo De Tavera told me afterwards, “Ma’am I just wanted to tell you that when you were walking, one of the women said, ‘Naku, suot na naman niya iyong damit na iyon.’" And then I said, “It’s what I want them to notice. That first of all, yes, I’m president but I’m not president of a rich country. And what’s wrong with wearing a dress more than once, twice?" I really wanted to set an example.
And I also wanted our cabinet members to do the same thing, sabi nga nila medyo istrikto nga daw ako but I felt if we wanted changes made, we should start with our own lives so that was never a problem with me.
Jessica: Sabi ho ni Maria Montelibano, because I interviewed her also on your presidency, na you were a very popular president pero ang observation was “She didn’t play along, she was just what she was."
Cory: Ayoko nga iyong arte-arte e.
Jessica: Oo nga ho.
Cory: Bacause that’s not me. At I don’t want to pretend to be somebody that I am not. The people voted for me seeing the way I was. Wala naman akong inartehan or whatever. I mean, this is what you get, okay?
Jessica: But did you miss out on the opportunity to have probably used your popularity to boost your (image) and also to get your programs going faster?
Cory: I agreed before kasi sabi nila kailangan magpunta ka sa palengke … Sa start, I did that pero teka muna, how far do I go with this? In fact I remember saying this to the wives of the military, “Alam niyo, kaibigan niyo ako at kung meron kayong problema, lumapit kayo sa akin maski problema sa mga asawa niyo or whatever." And some of them really did. And I thought, “Oh no, what did I start?" But on the other hand, I felt yes, if I could help, why not?
Jessica: Hindi ho kayo nanghihinayang na you could have used your popularity more?
Cory: No. Hindi siguro, kasi people will see through you eh. And I think that I can safely say now, after all these years na people still accept me for what I am and that when I say something they accept it as the truth and nothing else. Ayoko talaga iyong … I guess it was never me, iyong aarte-arte o ano.
Jessica: But others saw that as a sign of weakness or lack of political will.
Cory: Well look, the United States government gave me two hundred million dollars after my speech, di naman ako nag-arte doon. I just did what I was supposed to do. When I visited Germany, Chancellor then was Kohl. And of course he really looks so formidable and sabi ko, nakakahiya iyong hihingi na naman ako eh. That’s every state visit, but he was just so nice. When we sat down, he said, “Madame President, what can we do for you?" Wow, so ito na yung lista ko.
So I would tell my cabinet members, “Bawas-bawasan niyo naman ang hinihingi at nakakahiya ang ginagawa kong ito." But where was I going to get assistance from? It was from the powerful countries and the rich countries.
In Japan, the same thing. Nagkamali lang ako doon kasi after the welcome ceremonies and we rode in the car of the Emperor and then he said, in Japanese of course, that he was apologizing for what the Japanese people did during World War II.
Jessica: For the war crimes…
Cory: Yes, so ako naman, “Oh, thank you very much." Ayun, tinranslate na nga. ‘Pag dating ko sa guest house, tinanong sa akin ni Teddy Benigno, “Ma’am, anong pinag-usapan niyo?" Di ako naman tuwang-tuwa na, “Alam mo, nag-apologize nga siya eh." Eh ngayon si Teddy, siguro style nating mga Pinoy, dinaldal niya. Naku, hindi pala ginagawa iyon. You don’t quote from a conversation between the emperor and whoever. Our attention was called to that by the Foreign Ministry, Monching Del Rosario was our ambassador. I said I didn’t know that. But I really felt it was so wonderful, so honorable of him to apologize.
Jessica: And personally ano?
Cory: Yah and anyway, siguro iyong mga ganun. Siguro kung nag-iba naman ako, baka hindi naman sinabi sa akin iyon ng emperor.
Jessica: Ma’am, iyong madalas na ipinupukol sa inyo noon, I hope you don’t mind, was your inexperience. You were not a politician.
Cory: I never said that I was experienced. But then, I was married to Ninoy and he was a politician from the age of 23 when he finally became a mayor … But my greatest exerience was I was married to a political prisoner. For seven years and seven months, he was in detention and both of us were determined that we will not give up our dreams, our ideals for ourselves.
I’m sure, alam mo hindi naman sa pagmamayabang ito ‘no, pero siguro kung sinabi ni Ninoy kay Marcos na, “Ano bang gusto mo? Gagawin ko na." Then he would have been out of there because so many, at first, were not arrested. Then they were arrested but they were released after they pleadged cooperation. So siguro, hindi naman iibahin pa si Ninoy doon. But he felt, in fact in an interview (he said), “My place is in prison." Parang he felt he had to show that. Unang-una, hindi naman ako nag-volunteer na, “O, gawin niyo akong pangulo." I was determined na talagang one term lang ako. Basta ang aking ultimate objective was to restore democracry.
Jessica: You didn’t mind when people were saying, “Ah she didn’t have the experience. Housewife lang siya. She’s just the widow of Ninoy?"
Cory: Pero sino ba sa kanila ang nag-appear before the US Congress? Sino ba sa kanila ang nalagay sa cover ng TIME magazine? Sino ang Woman of the Year? Kaya it’s not all experience. I’m just so grateful to all the Filipino people who were so supportive of me dahil they took me for what I was and they did not expect more. Kasi siguro kung nagarte-arte pa ko, they would not like me. Eh it’s not really my style. Gusto ko man umarte, lalabas at lalabas. I think, as a rule, I’m very frank and I say it the way it is. Although binawasan ko ng kaunti nung kumandidato ako. But usually, I say it the way it is. Para walang sisihan later on na, “O Cory, bakit hindi mo man lang sinabi sa amin na ganun ang gusto mo?" Para maliwanag na, “O Jessica, ito ang gusto ko ha, ito ang gagawin ko. Bahala na kung sino ang matatamaan dito."
Jessica: They also said that you only listen to a few people, kung sino lang daw po iyong mga nakadikit sa inyo, iyon lang daw ho…
Cory: Ay no, I also seek out certain people but I cannot listen to too many people either. Otherwise I’ll just spend my time listening and listening and then, there are some people who think they know more than you even if they’ve never been president.
Jessica: Bakit niyo raw ho in-endorse si FVR?
Cory: Well, I thought of the candidates. First, he had the best chance. Nagpa-survey kami eh. There were eight surverys.
Jessica: Ang casualty ho si Mitra who was very close to you.
Cory: Yah, he was close to me but well, I can say it now, he never made 1 or 2 in the eight surverys. I think he was number 3 or number 4. Also, I really and truly felt that Eddie Ramos was the best of the candidates.
Jessica: Nung chief of staff po siya, how was he?
Cory: Well, he was very loyal and I don’t think I could have survived the coup attempts if he had not supported me.
JS: Were you disappointed with Enrile?
Cory: Of course! Diyos ko! Talaga. Naku. Kasi I talked to him when I was in Cebu on the first day of the People Power revolution. Somebody, I forgot na who it was, sabi nakausap daw niya. Sabi ko, “Tanungin mo kung pwede ko kausapin."
So I was able to talk to him. Sabi ko, “Johnny, I just want you to know, what can I do for you? All I can do now is pray for you." Sabi niya, “Oh that’s all I need." So okay naman. But then of course, I remember when Ninoy was in prison, I’d go to him for certain so called privileges, like “Pwede ba ako magpadala ng little refrigerator?" at saka iyong aming visiting privileges.
Before, he was the lawyer of my father and my father’s family. His brothers also. Siyempre naiba noon. And then I guess iba na eh. He became so powerful and all, and ganyan siguro talaga ang buhay. And siguro iyong iba sinasabi, “Bakit si Cory pa eh walang alam and all that?" In fact, I knew of a joke about me after my presidency, somebody told me, “Alam mo iyong joke sa iyo?"
“CORAZON, SI. AQUI (points to head), NO."
Sabi ko, “Ah ganoon ba?" Well anyway, whatever. At least nakatapos ako and I can say that with the help of the Filipino people, we restored democracy.
Jessica: Ma’am about Erap, you supported the overthrow, and then now, you’re allies with him.
Cory: Iyon na nga eh. Well, but siguro ganoon, nobody is perfect. I really thought that Gloria would be an improvement over him but we’re just human, we make mistakes.
JS: Have you ever discussed this with Erap?
Cory: The good thing about Erap, kung ako iyon siguro, “Hoy ikaw, pinahirapan mo ako noon ha." He has not mentioned it at all like that. Kaya nga sabi ko sa kaniya, “Wow Erap. Ang galing naman ng EQ mo. Talong-talo mo kami."
Jessica: How about Gloria? How is your relationship with the president now?
Cory: Well. I haven’t talked to her. The last time I talked to her was when I went to Malacañang to ask for her resignation. That was July 7. And then the following day, I said it on TV.
JS: Pwede po bang malaman how she took it when you told her, “You should resign?"
Cory: Kasama ko kasi iyong apat na bishops eh. Ako iyong ikalimang nagsalita. So we all asked her to do the same thing.
JS: Ano ho ang reaction niya?
Cory: Alam mo, nung gabing iyon, parang awang-awa nga ako sa kanya eh. Sabi ko noon at that time, we were thinking of it as a break for her to leave the country. She could have a graceful exit, dahil hindi pa naman ganoon kasama ang sitwasyon. Then she went to the August 21 (Ninoy’s death anniversary) mass after that. July ako nag-ask for her resignation. Then on August, Lupita called up Ballsy and said, “Pinapatanong ni
Presidente kung pwede siya magpunta." Well, pwede naman eh. Sabi ni Lupita – well she answered her own question – “Tutal, public ano naman iyon." Tapos tinanong sa akin ni Ballsy, (sabi ko) “So sige, kung gusto niya."
Jessica: Ma’am, palagay niyo saan papunta itong bansang ito?
Cory: I still have great hopes, kasi sabi ko tayong mga Pilipino sasabihin, “Ano ba naman, bakit hindi tayo umangat katulad ng iba nating kalapit bansa?" Sabi ko, “Darating at darating din iyon."
Kaya nga I am so glad that it was at the suggestion of some people that we try to revive iyong “the being like Ninoy." That the Filipinos are like Ninoy, ready to sacrifice and to give their all for the sake of the country. At sabi ko, “Darating at darating iyon but kinakailangan na mas marami pang tumulong sa ating kapwa Pilipino lalong lalo na ang ating mahihirap na kababayan."
That’s why I’m very involved nga in micro-finance, because I believe that is one of the best ways to address the poverty problems at alam mo Jessica, I’ve never been so inspired as when I talk to these women who are able to make such great improvements in the lives of their families, starting with a small loan of 5 thousand pesos. At ang kagandahan nga … we have our own micro-finance and 99% repayment rate eh. Pero we only lend to women, with no offense to the men. But apparently, women really are very good about paying back their debts. Tapos before I got sick, I would go and visit some of the micro-finance women and they would tell me, “Ganoon naman ho talaga eh dahil kung meron kaming extra, tinatabi ho namin iyan dahil hindi namin alam. Parang pang gastos sa pagkain." Iyong mga asawa raw nila, pag may extra, gagamitin sa pag-inom o sa pagsugal. When I talked to one of the husbands, sabi ko, “Totoo ba iyon?" Sabi, “Opo, Ma’am." But anyway, this is with the blessing or the conformity of the husbands. It works very well.
Jessica: Ma’am, someone once took note of the fact that in Southeast Asia, ang Pilipinas lang daw ho ang may apat na presidente. I think that there was this occasion that there were four of you and added to that, minsan din sinabi ni Lee Kwan Yew na too much politics or “Too much democracy is bad. Look at the Philippines." Given all these comments, na best example tayo ng democracy in Southeast Asia…
Cory: We tried it also without democracy, look at what happened to us. So there has to be the perfect middle point. Magaling ang demokrasya pero kinakailangan rin na mas maraming tao ang tutulong sa pamahalaan dahil hindi kaya ng pamahalaan na sila lamang ang tutulong sa mamamayan. Kinakailangan na mas marami pa. And I am so glad na mula nung naging pangulo ako, parami nang parami ang mga NGOs and we really gave importance to people’s organizations and non-governmental organizations.
Jessica: Do you think Ma’am it’s wrong for a lot of us to put so much expectation or hope on the presidency to help us get out of our problems?
Cory: Siguro kailangan tanungin mo muna ang sarili mo kung ano ba ang nagawa mo para sa ating bayan. Of course, you are not expected to do as much as the president or the leaders of our country but there should be some contribution. Hindi naman pwedeng, “O kayo na lang bahala diyan, let me get on with my life." Kaya natutuwa nga ‘ko dito sa ginawa namin. At the suggestion of some friends, they said we should form a Pinoy consortium – so nandoon mga bankers, mga businessmen. Tapos nandoon din nga iyong mga NGOs at talagang masayang-masaya ako tuwing nakakausap ko nga itong mga kababaihan na talagang masaya sila maski na hirap sila, pero nakaangat sila maski na kaunti at nabigyan nila ng magandang kapalaran ang kanilang pamilya.
Jessica: Ano po sa palagay niyo Ma’am ang greatest learning niyo as president?
Cory: Marami akong natutunan pero … Well, I depend a lot on prayer also, then I sought out people whom I believed in and who really helped me so ayoko naman sabihin ng iba na, “Naku ang pulitiko naman…" Sabi ko, “Huwag niyo namang sinasabi yan. Naging pulitiko rin naman ako." Pero I suppose we all have to change in the sense that for those of us who have done nothing yet or have done very little for the rest of our fellow Filipinos, it’s time to wake up and to do something.
Kaya alam mo itong anibersaryo nga ni Ninoy, talagang sumaya ako dahil nakita ko itong mga kabataan na I thought they had forgotten about Ninoy but they were willing to give up very lucrative jobs and work for a fraction of what they would have made if they continued to work in the multinationals, and talagang tumutulong. So sabi ko ang galing naman nung ginagawang iyon. At mabuti na maraming mga paaralan na meron iyong immersion program – titira sila sa isang pamilya na medyo mahirap at nakikita nila kung paano nga ang kabuhayan. Kasi kung hindi mo nakikitang namumuhay iyong iba nating kababayan, akala mo okay lang na wala kang ginagawa. Pero ‘pag nakita mo na ganoon pala, kung meron akong gagawin, maski kaunti lamang, makakatulong sa kanila.
Jessica: Ma’am, do you ever wonder about your place in history?
Cory: Bahala na ang mga tao doon. I don’t worry about that. In fact lahat itong mga nangyari sa akin … unang-una, hindi ko naman akalain na magiging presidente ako. Pangalawa, iyon na nga, maging TIME magazine Woman of the Year ka. Tapos iyong bibigay na tulong nung nagsalita ako sa US Congress.
So many things have happened to me and so many doors have been opened to me – although I was hoping Ninoy would have been the one to continue all this pero ganoon talaga, dahil when Ninoy was around I really didn’t have to do that much except when he was in prison. Iyon nga ang aking baptism of fire. Nung nasa preso siya, “Naku, ano na
naman itong ginagawa ni Ninoy?" Iyong pag-smuggle ng kanyang letters and messages. Tapos tinuturuan niya ako kung ano ang kailangan kong gawin, kung sino ang dapat kong kausapin.
Jessica: Pero Ma’am, nowadays, people also refer to you as a sort of moral compass for the Philippines or for Filipinos.
Cory: Well, I hope so kasi I can face anybody and I was very strict about not using my position to further my own interests or interests of others who were close to me. Sabi nga nung iba, “Sobra ka naman eh." But I felt na when I leave Malacañang, nobody can point a finger at me.
Kaya nga siguro a week or two before I was going to step down, sinabi ko na, “Naku, ihanap niyo ako ng awto dahil pag baba ko doon sa Grandstand, ayoko na sumakay doon sa Malacañang car." And so I had a Toyota Crowne at and sabi ko eh, “Hindi na ako presidente eh, nakakahiya naman na gagamitin ko pa ang sasakyan ng pamahalaan."
Jessica: Pero Ma’am, even now, people still refer to you as para kayong moral compass, and people also refer to you as a saint, as a hero.
Cory: Wow. Well, I just try to do what I believe I should because I realized also I have so much to be grateful for. I always tell my children, “Siguro, 90% of the population have it so much worse. We really are so privileged, so we have to show and return all these gifts that have been given to us."
Jessica: But I asked Noynoy and Kris when they announced you were sick with colon cancer, tinanong ko si Noynoy na, “Don’t you feel na parang sobra naman iyong quota niyo of suffering? Your dad, and then what you had to go through, and then now your mom?"
Cory: Alam mo noong araw Jessica, I used to think all of us have certain quotas for suffering and I felt I had filled up my quota, eh hindi pala ganun eh.
While you’re in this world, I mean, like Jesus Christ showed us until the very end, until he died, he was forever suffering. Eh Diyos iyon eh. And who are we to complain? But luckily, when things were going very bad during Martial Law and I would think na, “‘Pag meron pang nangyaring isang masama o masakit, ay talagang hindi ko na siguro kakayanin." Tapos then something will happen, and even if I just have a week of relative peace, you felt re-energized and think, “Ah pwede pa pala."
So that’s how I feel now. Of course, who wants to get sick? Pero if that’s my fate, so be it. And so many people have been so helpful atsaka I don’t want to live for such a long time. Sabi ko nga, “75 na ako, tama na iyon." Ninoy was only 50 but everything is just up to God.
Jessica: Ma’am, don’t you feel na sometimes you deserve naman a more restful and a more peaceful retirement?
Cory: Ewan ko na nga eh but no, I cannot really complain because as I said, siguro, I’ve had it so much better than perhaps 90% of the population. So I’m grateful and I realized payback time rin naman eh. Hindi naman pwedeng thank you ka na lang nang thank you. You have to pay back.
Jessica: Ma’am, para ho sa aming hindi madasalin, pwede ho ba paki-explain niyo how prayers have shaped you as a person or how it has also helped you and your family during very bad times?
Cory: Siguro, my teachers from the very beginning, palaging, “Uy magdasal kayo." And in school, even when I was studying in the States, ‘pag merong mga problema eh di dasal na lang.
Ako’y nagpapasalamat sa inyong lahat at lalong-lalo na sa Panginoong Diyos, na ginawa niya akong isang Pilipino.
Then you learn that because of those sufferings, you become better and then you accept although one nun – I was still staying in my parent’s house, during the early days of Martial Law – sabi ko “Sister, this is really awful."
“You know Cory, God only sends sufferring to those whom he loves."
Sabi ko, “Sister, I hope he doesn’t love me so much."
Nag-joke na nga ako … But then, I mean there are so many others who have suffered more than I have, and I really cannot complain. Of course, I had my bad days with this cancer but just knowing that so many people are praying for me … I never met any of these doctors before but they seem to be doing a good job. Ngayon, napapansin ko nga ‘pag nakikita ako ng mga tao, kung minsan kakain ako sa labas, titingnan nila ako, nagsa-smile naman sila so sasabihin ko, “Hello." Tapos sasabihin nila, “Nagdadasal kami para sa iyo." So ako, “Thank you very much."
Alam mo Jessica, pag nakatanggap ka ng sulat from people you don’t know and they tell you we’re really praying for you, talagang maski papaano maiisip mo, “Wow, ano ba
iyong kabutihan na nagawa ko para napakaraming nakikiisa sa akin?" So, thank you very much.
Jessica: This is another sensitive question pero iyong pagkamatay po ni Senator Aquino, your husband, do you think we’ll ever see the day that we will know and find out who is the mastermind?
Cory: Eh ako, I already fixed my mind kung sino iyong mastermind. Hindi na bale iyon. I just think, si President Kennedy, hindi pa rin nila nalalaman eh. Nung napatay naman, hindi naman Martial Law noon. Democratic country. The most powerful country in the world. Pero ang alam ko, he did not die in vain.
Siguro ang masakit noon eh kung napatay na siya tapos umuwi kami rito at takot pa rin ang mga tao. It would have really hurt me and I would probably have left the country but when we came back, it was just really so unexpected. My sisters have called me and said, “Cory, katakot-takot ang nagpupunta sa bahay niyo and kailangan ilipat na si Ninoy. Ang mother-in-law mo, naghahanap na nga ng simabahan." Pagkatapos sabi ko, “Kung saan pwede."
So, kung hindi ko nakita iyong support na galing sa ating mga kababayan, siguro sasabihin ko, “Ay nagkamali si Ninoy, these people are not worth dying for." But biruin mo naman iyong halos dalawang milyon na sumali doon sa funeral procession and iniisip ko na, “Wow, sana nalaman ni Ninoy before he left the US na ‘Alam mo Ninoy, kung mamamatay ka at ‘pag nilibing ka, dalawang milyon…’" Sabi ko, “Lalong madali siguro iyon para kay Ninoy because he will always tell me, ‘Cory I’ve always wanted to die for our country.’"
Pero kung hindi nangyari iyon, siguro sa sama ng loob ko, (sasabihin ko) “Humanap na lang tayo ng ibang bayan." Pero wala, talagang nobody expected it. Nobody orchestrated it. Parang it was so simultaneous, so unexpected. But it was something that really changed me also na, “Yah, tama nga si Ninoy, the Filipino people are worth dying for."
Jessica: Do you remember the day of your inauguration? I happened to be there in Club Filipino. Naaalala niyo pa ho ba?
Cory: So many things happened before I finally got there. First when I got here and I was going to change because I must have slept in one of my sisters’ house the night before. Tapos nandito sila Father Bernas, Jimmy Ongpin, there was a general here also and they were still trying to convince me to go to Camp Crame. Sabi ko, “Hindi. It has to be in a civilian place." So sabi ko, “Sa Club Filipino na." And Father Bernas in fact told me, “You know iyong ibang generals sinasabi na parang you still don’t trust them and they risked their lives for you." Sabi ko, “It’s not that. It’s just that I want civilian authority to be supreme."
Jessica: Naalala ko ho ang gulo-gulo sa Club Filipino.
Cory: Well … I was so insistent it had to be in a civilian place. Sabi nila, “We could take you there by helicopter." Well I doubt if they could have taken me by helicopter, saan ako magla-landing? Then nagpuputukan na dito and of course hindi naman bullet proof iyong aming (bintana) … then I called up Doy, sabi ko, “Doy, areglado?" Sabi niya, “Oo may mga security naman tayo dito." Sabi ko, “Medyo matatagalan ako dahil nandito pa lang ako. I’ll go to Wack-Wack first, to my older sister’s house tapos from there…" Wala namang cellphone noon eh. Sa radio phone yata kami. “But I’ll be there."
Jessica: Do you remember the thoughts that were running through your mind while you were being sworn in po as president?
Cory: Kasi everything was up in the air so in fact after I took my oath of office, where did I go? Manila Memorial Park. I went there and I said, “Ninoy, here I am now, I don’t know what’s going to happen." And it wasn’t until 5 o clock in the afternoon…
Jessica: Na nag-sink in ho sa inyo?
Cory: It was Ambassador Bosworth who called and sabi niya, “President Marcos would like to go to Paoay." Sabi ko “Why? Is he dying?" Sabi niya “No, no. He’s just tired." Sabi ko, “If he’s just tired, then he can stay overnight in Clark." But then he goes. Naku, later on we discovered he had 27 million pesos in his luggage or whatever and he was really planning to come back. He had all the resources, knew all the people.
Whom did I know in the military before becoming president? Ang mga kilala ko lang eh iyong mga in-charge kay Ninoy during his detention. Imagine. Ilang years yung Martial Law? 14 years. Parang maraming hulog ng langit na lang.
Even in the case of Col. Gazmin, my brother Peping said, “Cory may napili ka na ba?" Sabi ko, “Oo, may napili na ako. Bakit?" Sabi niya, “Tinatanong ni Johnny Ponce Enrile kung wala ka pa raw, he’s suggesting somebody." Sabi ko, “Sino?" Tapos may binanggit siyang pangalan. Sabi ko hindi pwede iyon, so it was Gazmin who was the inaanak of Ninoy and I who met. Well actually, I didn’t meet him in Iligan. He was stationed there but he sent me a card while I was there and the person who brought it to me said, “Ma’am nandito ho iyong card ng nag-utos sa akin nito, kung may kailangan po kayo, available ho siya rito." Pero, I was still a candidate then.
Naisip ko nga, one of the best appointments I ever made. And I really trusted him. We really got along well and I guess he was really the one who got me closer to the military. He even suggested that I have breakfast, lunch, dinner with the generals, colonels, all the way down to the sergeants. And, “Don’t ever mix them up kasi if you bring a general and a colonel, hindi na magsasalita iyong lower-ranking," that’s what he pointed out to me. And sabi niya, “Kung gusto mo, you can ask them whatever it is." How would I know what to ask them? Pero okay talaga iyon. We got along very well.
Tukso nga nung mga bata noon, “Naku ang mom ‘pag sinabi na ni Col. Gazmin na hindi pwede, hindi pwede." Kasi sometimes, I would say I feel like eating out when I was still living here tapos sabi, “Ma’am hindi ho pwede."
“Eh kailangan i-secure ho muna namin. Give us 45 minutes."
“Why do you have to secure it? I just thought of it now so how will anybody know?"
“Ma’am hindi ho ganun eh."
“Naku naman, apurahin naman ninyo." But I never asked them to teach me how to use a gun. I asked them to teach me how to march, but to use a gun? Kung oras ko na, oras ko na. Babaril pa ba …
Jessica: Ma’am, showbiz question na lang po, kamusta raw ho kayo as a mom?
Cory: Naku, to all of them?
JS: Sige ho, to Kris.
Cory: I was a mother more than I was a wife, okay? Ninoy was so busy with his political career and I was so determined that I would be a very good mother. I didn’t want my children to feel deprived of both father and mother. Talagang siguro hindi lamang sa pagbalik nila rito, sigurado sila nandito ako. And then I’ll help them with their homework. I’d bring them to the dentist, to the pediatrician. Sasamahan ko pa sa mga parties iyang mga iyan. Sabi ni Ninoy, “Eh mas mabuti nang sanay sila na lagi kang nakikita." Sabi ko, “Ninoy, kung minsan naman eh katakot-takot na itong party ng mga batang ito."
I’m glad I did spend all that time with them because when Martial Law came and I needed them, they were all ready to help also. Parang it was the most common thing to be with me. So when we talk, we had codes, so they would understand me and I would understand them at alam din nila kung sino iyong mga pinupuntahan ko, iyong mga abugado ni Ninoy at I will go myself, then Ballsy or Pinky would go.
Jessica: Iyong mga younger generations now, they know you, sabi niyo nga ho, as the mother of Kris. Do you mind?
Cory: No, siguro kasi, my goodness, she appears on television everyday. Ako naman hindi naman ako mahilig sa television. It’s her time. But they know that I’m her mother at wala naman akong kuwan doon … No problem, okay?
Jessica: Ma’am, baka gusto raw ho niyong magbigay ng message to everyone?
Cory: Ako’y nagpapasalamat sa inyong lahat at lalong-lalo na sa Panginoong Diyos na ginawa niya akong isang Pilipino. Talagang karangalan ko iyon, na maging katulad niyo at maraming salamat sa lahat ng tulong na ibinigay niyo sa akin.
Jessica: Thank you. That was really powerful.