Friday, August 7, 2009

Pinoys in Saipan hold Mass in honor of Cory

SUSUPE, Saipan – Regina Tambo, 59, was holding back her tears when the church choir sang “Inay" (Mother) during the offertory at a memorial Mass Friday night in the US island of Saipan in honor of the late former Philippine President Corazon “Cory" Aquino.

“She’s a mother to all of us," said Tambo, referring to Aquino, who rose to world fame by leading a bloodless revolt that steered the Philippines from military rule to a democracy in 1986 after her husband – then the strongest opposition to a former dictatorial leader – was shot dead at the tarmac returning home from exile.

Tambo was one of the hundreds of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), Filipino-Americans and other indigenous residents of Saipan in the US Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) who attended the special 7:30 p.m. Mass at the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa for the late icon of democracy.

What was also touching was the Gloria Dei Choir’s singing of Bayan Ko (My Country), followed by Sa Ugoy ng Duyan by one of the choir members at the end of the Mass.

Another OFW, Mon Badiola, 42, said he was at EDSA in 1986 when the People Power Revolution took place, so Aquino’s death, her legacy and the special Mass for her touched him deeply.

“Filipinos on Saipan value what Cory had done for the country. I’ve always been a fan of Cory. She’s an ideal leader, God-fearing, God-centered," said Badiola, who left the Philippines in 1991 to work in Saudi Arabia and Taiwan, went back home, before coming to Saipan.

Badiola, of Lucban, Quezon, just like many others, wore yellow shirts or wore stickers with the face of Aquino. The late president was known for sporting yellow clothes during EDSA days, and had since become her signature color.

Olive Yana, president of the United Filipino Organization in Saipan, was also holding an enlarged photo of the late president during and after the Mass.

Father Ryan Jimenez of the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa, in an interview with GMANews.TV after the Mass, said he and the other Filipino priests in the CNMI were honored to have Bishop Tomas A. Camacho celebrate the Mass in solidarity with the Filipino people in the whole world.

Ten of the only 13 priests in the CNMI are Filipinos.

“I’m personally grateful for the turnout. This was much more than what we expected," said Jimenez.

The newly arrived Philippine Consul General to the CNMI, Medardo G. Macaraig, who was one of the Mass attendees along with his family, said it’s an “honor for the Philippines" to have the bishop of the CNMI preside over a Mass in Aquino’s honor.

“It shows the international caliber of the reputation of President Aquino. Her reputation goes beyond borders," Macaraig told GMANews.TV.

Other Philippine government officials in the CNMI were also at the Mass, including labor attaché Joann Lourdes Lavilla and welfare officer Reynaldo Tayag.

Saipan, the capital of the CNMI, is only about three hours away by plane from Manila. It is home to some 10,000 OFWs and Filipino-Americans.

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