Less than 12 hours after leaving the Cathedral on Tuesday night, I found myself in the parking lot of San Antonio, boarding the Sumulong Family bus bound for Intramuros. Wednesday was pretty much dreary all the way. But again there was that festive mood – especially on the bus since it was a reunion of sorts.
I realized that now with 6th (SIXTH!!) generation Sumulongs in the world, it’s getting more and more difficult to distinguish who our relatives are. We needed name tags on that bus! – like the ones we had in that big reunion in the 80’s which even specified which branch you belonged to! We were all Sumulongs on that bus but most of us no longer bear the name. Instead, to call our attention you’d have to say, Tanjuatco, Bautista, Hallare, David, Santos, Ledonio, Coscolluela, Trillo… (did I miss anyone??)
OK, so we don’t look like we were heading to a funeral. And ’tis not in the blood to be this chirpy at 6:30am! But we were happy to be together and excited to witness a historic good bye.
True to form, Little Twin Moms were prepared. We had enough food on the bus to last much more than the 8 hour ride we did NOT anticipate.
It was a noisy and pleasantly quick hop to the Cathedral. I guess chomping on breakfast baon made the time fly by. Before we knew it, we were at the walled city.
I’m proud to say, every single ABS-CBN crew cab was adorned with at least one yellow ribbon.
Our bus (which was from the House of Representatives and which I failed to take a picture of from the outside with its yellow “Maraming Salamat, Tita Cory, From the Sumulong Family” banner) had to pass through the back of the Cathedral.
From there, we made a short if slightly wet trek to the main entrance…
…where the Hacienda Luisita flat bed truck was ready and waiting.
We got to the Cathedral maybe an hour before everything started but it was already a full house.
Fortunately we were able to get good seats – and by the monitor again too.
There was a lot of time to stop and stare…
…and drink in the true, sad reality of it all.
Only accredited photographers could snap during the mass so this was the last picture I took in the Cathedral. I guess I don’t need to describe the details of the funeral rites since you got to see it all on You Tube. But I will share with you the moments that touched me most.
Kris made sure that there wasn’t a dry eye in the house with her eulogy. For me, the line I will never forget is (NO! Not, “I’m sorry Mom. I lied to you! etc. etc.) but this:
“You have given our family honor beyond anything we could ever have hoped to receive, that no matter how great the sacrifice of my parents, I can honestly say to all of you, that for my family, the Filipinos are worth it”.
I just thought, for Kris to say that, in light of how much we have taken for granted in the past two and a half decades, Tita Cory still believed in us, even when we didn’t believe in ourselves. Like a mom who knows her kid can do it, even if the kid is frustrated and faltering. Kris’ words were comforting but they were also a call to action.
Lea’s Bayan Ko is what really turned the faucets on for me. It was the last song to be sung before the casket was removed from the church. When she reached the climactic line “ibon man may layang lumipad”, the blue lights on the Cathedral walls turned bright yellow! The monitor in front of us showed the crowds outside, huddled together in the rain, showers of yellow confetti, the men in uniform waiting outside, Jim Parades mouthing the words behind Lea… “aking adhika, makita kang sakdal laya…”
I was asking myself, how free are we really? Will our generation get to see the kind of freedom that’s not shackled by selfishness? I thought of your dad and all that he did in his own quiet way. It’s been so long since all of that… and what?
Soon, the casket was solemnly being removed from the church, the doors opened and you could hear chanting outside… Cory! Cory!… Hairs standing…
So after many a tissue, we had to make a quick dash to the Sumulong bus.
Walking to the bus we saw kids standing on Portalets…
…and people paying their respects from balconies.
As the long trip began, food was passed around the bus. A fine lunch of sandwiches, hotdogs, doughnuts, pastries, chicharon, Cheetos, Twix bars and more.
One of the most frequently asked questions I get is, Did your bus have a toilet on it? Or How did you go to the bathroom? Well, our bus did NOT have a toilet but going to bathroom was not so difficult as the motorcade moved at such a snail’s pace that you could hop off, pee in a nice hotel, and return with the bus just a few meters away from where you left it.
Check out this small ADMU contingent.
You’ve seen many a picture of the thick crowds by now. But bear in mind that we were close to the end of the motorcade so this was already a thinned out crowd. Tita Cory’s casket was easily 100 meters ahead of us but the people stayed on to pay tribute, to cheer, to remember and perhaps feel as one again.
We happily flashed Laban signs right back at them. I would look into the faces of people of all walks from life – showing their gratitude, celebrating freedom, yearning for potential to manifest and a lump would form in my throat.
The crowds also put their thoughts and thanks into written words.
I heard on TV that Pinky was so touched by the outpouring of the people that she scrambled to find anything she could write on and write with on the coaster to tell them “Thank You” and “We love you”.
This group showed their thanks through music.
The firefighters displayed their support on their trucks and with a gushing hose (which I didn’t quite capture here).
The emotional week showcased Pinoy ingenuity with the appearance of all souvenirs yellow and Cory. But of all the creativity that showed itself, this is perhaps my favorite. What to do when there’s not enough wind to make confetti fly?
My camera was low batt by late afternoon. But here’s an appropriate way to conclude my little gallery. Recognize this area?
We made it to Manila Memorial after 8pm (after one horrific bathroom stop at a Shell on Sucat Rd.!) Our bus could only drive up to a certain area in the cemetery so we walked quite a bit. But after 8 hours, stretching our legs came as a relief. By the time we got there, the coffin was being sealed and seminaristas were singing. They ended with Bayan Ko and one by one, hands shot up with the Laban sign. It was such a simple, poignant moment.
As we’ve told each other several times, an era has come to an end. Our heroes have done all they came here to do. It’s this generation’s turn to step to the plate.
I’m game. Are you?