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President Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" Aquino III arrived at the Quirino Grandstand Saturday afternoon to lead the unfurling of a photo mosaic to honor his mother, the late former Presidnet Corazon "Cory" Aquino, on her first death anniversary.
Noynoy, who decided to run for president after his mother’s death on August 1, 2009, asked the people to be at his side the same way that they were at his mother’s side when she faced the challenges to lead the country after Ferdinand Marcos' dictatorial rule. “The burden she once carried is now upon me. She managed to overcome it with the help of the people I hope and pray you will also be at my side so the change we committed to work on together will soon become a reality," he said. He said that while the mosaic is a symbol of the renewed hope following Mrs. Aquino’s death, the real challenge is in making Mrs. Aquino’s example and legacy “part of our daily lives." “All throughout her life, she demonstrated love not only for her family but for every single Filipino. Remember this as you widen your horizons and realize there are people who may not be as fortunate as you are," he said. The President exhorted Filipinos not to give up in facing many problems, saying his mother confronted many challenges and never gave up, “no matter how difficult they were." Aquino, with Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim and members of his mother’s Cabinet, inspected the 3,200-photo mosaic measuring 200 by 250 feet, after its unfurling. He extended sincere thanks to those who participated in the project. He even gave credit to the students who despite not yet being born in 1986, when his mother assumed office, still took part in unfurling the four-ton tarpaulin across the sprawling grounds of the grandstand. "Nakaka-touch itong mga kabataang mga kadete. Parang damang-dama nila and ovbiously they weren't even born when EDSA was happening," Aquino later told reporters. The ceremony was held past 2 p.m., shortly after heavy rains had subsided. “Ito ay Cory weather, tumitila na ang ulan (This is Cory weather. The rain finally stopped)," Mrs. Aquino’s spokeswoman Lourdes Siytangco said. Aquino was clad in black at the event. Vice President Jejomar Binay, a close supporter of Mrs. Aquino, wore yellow. Singer Jose Mari Chan rendered a song based on a poem written for Mrs. Aquino by her husband former Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr., whose assassination in 1983 prompted her to run for president against then Marcos in 1986. Photojournalist Revoli Cortez, who took the photos in the mosaic, presented Aquino with a replica of the mosaic before the formal unfurling. The 3,200 photos of Mrs. Aquino, printed on a tarpaulin, will also attempt to land the Philippines in the Guinness Book of World Records. Organizers of the event said they might donate the mosaic to the Department of Social Welfare and Development after a week-long display at the Quirino Grandstand. "Okay lang sa akin na ibigay sa DSWD kasi at least puwede nilang gamiting bubong at tulugan [I have no problems giving the mosaic to the DSWD afterwards so it can be used to make roofs or mats]," Cortez told GMANews.TV. Mrs. Aquino, who is credited for restoring Philippine democracy following a bloodless revolution in 1986, succumbed to colon cancer. Her death sparked calls for her son, then a senator, to run in the presidential race. In his speech, Aquino admitted that when Mrs. Aquino died last year, he was concerned public support for principles she stood for had waned over the years. But he said he did not expect the record numbers at La Salle Greenhills, Manila Cathedral and Manila Memorial Park paid tribute to her. “On the other hand, beyond expressing sympathy, it was a resurgence of hope and a realization that each of us has a role in alleviating our common burden," he said. He also credited his mother for prompting him to run for president by teaching him about conviction. “I remember her best for what she taught me when she said I could not live with myself knowing that I could have done something and I chose not to. That lesson about conviction was critical in my decision to run for the presidency," he said. Aquino said he didn't mind always being compared to his parents in terms of accomplishements, adding that the three of them shared a common goal anyway. "Why is there a need to reinvent the wheel, to digress and divert from what they were fighting? I don't see the need to move away from anyting they have fought for," he said. Aquino added that continuing his parents' legacy was, in a way, his attempt at "moving away from their shadows and making his own mark." — Mark D. Merueñas / LBG, GMANews.TV