The unthinkable happened on Monday at the public viewing of former President Corazon “Cory” Aquino’s body at the Manila Cathedral.
I understood what the euphoria was all about. It was hard to hunt for the end of the line, which snaked its way through the streets of Intramuros, the original Manila.
My sister, her husband and I spent about 20 minutes just looking for the last person lining up to see the remains of the woman who made the impossible possible in 1986: removing a dictator from the presidential palace.
There was even a point where I almost gave up and wanted to go home and sleep, for it would be a long day for me tomorrow. And I was already tired – I had been toiling on my thesis proposal for several days.
That thought quickly disappeared though as I met people from all walks of life along the way, all of whom appeared eager to pay their last respects to Cory, come hell or high water.
The seemingly endless line had an end after all. It was on Muralla Street, on the fringes of the centuries-old Walled City. I was so relieved.
My brother-in-law said it was the perfect time to be falling in line for the public viewing.
He said it would have been too hot in the morning or the afternoon. We escaped the scorching heat of the tropical sun, yes!
But we were not spared from the intermittent drizzles and heavy downpours in the evening.
Despite the unpredictable weather and the long queue, the people waited patiently.
I was one of the lucky few who were able to shake hands with Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, who came out of his way to meet the people on Aduana Street, near the Palacio del Gobernador. His handshake was firm, by the way.
Noynoy is the only son of Cory and Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Junior, who was assassinated at the then Manila International Airport on August 21, 1983. The airport is now called the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
Noynoy thanked the people for coming to see his mother.
Our five-hour journey ended at 2 AM Tuesday, when we finally entered the Manila Cathedral to pay homage to Cory.
I had never been that weary all my life – I was sleepy, I was hungry, I was thirsty, and most of all, my urinary bladder was killing me.
But I was amazed by the discipline of the people filing past Cory’s casket.
Even in death, Cory made the unthinkable thinkable. Twice.