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THREE HEROES AMONG US

 

Homily on the occasion of the 25th death anniversary of Senator Ninoy Aquino held at the Don Bosco Church, Makati City last August 21, 2008.

 

We are here to remember. We need to remember because we easily forget. The nation will not easily forget the name Senator Ninoy Aquino. After all, an airport has been named after him. Many streets and avenues now carry his name. Many monuments and memorials have been erected to honor him. But the values for which he lived are being attacked. The situation of the nation twenty five years ago, for which he gladly offered his life, is not essentially different from what we have now. Credibility is low. Corruption is high. Poverty is widespread. Skepticism is deep.

On this twenty fifth year of the martyrdom of Senator Ninoy, we also bring to the Lord our thanksgiving and praises for the wonderful healing that He has given to President Cory. Her doctors are amazed at the progress of her therapy. We are not surprised! With millions of us praying, how can God not hear our pleading for Senator Ninoy’s beloved wife? It can only be due to the prayers and sacrifices that so many anonymous friends, like the anonymous millions at EDSA 1986, who pray for the miracle of healing.

Ten days from the twenty fifth year of Senator Ninoy’s martyrdom, we will celebrate what would have been the eightieth birthday of our esteemed Jaime Cardinal Sin. In fact, Senator Ninoy was buried on the thirty first of August, the fifty fifth birthday of Cardinal Sin then. They admired and respected each other. I know that in heaven, they continue to care for the Filipino people.

August 21, 2008 exalts three icons of freedom and truth and democracy. Senator Ninoy—President Cory—Cardinal Sin—a triumvirate of patriotism. What do these three have in common? What unites these three?

They all show us what KATAPATAN means.

The first meaning of katapatan is FAITHFULNESS. Fidelity. Faithfulness under trial. Fidelity at gunpoint. Katapatan in imprisonment. Faithfulness in sickness. Fidelity in exile. Senator Ninoy challenges us to make katapatan a prime value of our lives as Filipinos. Faithfulness is the opposite of complacency. Faithfulness is the enemy of mediocrity. Faithfulness refuses to cut corners. As gold glows under fire and hammer, so must we all take courage and stand up for what is right even if nobody will do it. Faithfulness is dreaming the impossible dream. Katapatan means fighting the unbeatable foe. Faithfulness does not know weariness. Katapatan is being able to march unto hell for a heavenly cause.

We need to renew our faith in the Filipino. The Filipino is truly worth dying for. We need to be on fire again with love of country. We do not love the Philippines enough. Let us allow Senator Ninoy to impassion us again with love of country.

The second meaning of katapatan is TRUTHFULNESS. Transparency. Crystal clear living with no ulterior motives. No hidden agenda. No game plans. Truthfulness which is keeping your word. Truthfulness which is not lying. Katapatan which is asking others to safeguard the truth and proclaim it. President Cory is an icon of this virtue. She has always been transparent. Her life is an open book of crystal clear living. When she told us she would not run again for President, we believed her. When she got sick, she told the whole world about it. Nothing to hide. Nothing to fear. Crystal clear.

If our nation is to be healed and if we truly want to live in true democracy, we must learn to live in the truth without the cloak of executive privilege. If we truly wish to honor President Cory, we must demand from our government transparency and honesty. We want for the Philippines a true program of governance and not a game plan for the sake of those in power mindless of the plight of the poor.

We claim the miracle of healing for President Cory. We also claim a miracle of healing for our motherland. Let truth prevail. Let transparency reign. Let corruption and shady deals stop.

The third meaning of kata-patan is FRIEND. Kata-patan is the one I trust. Kata-patan is the one who loves me and trusts me. Ang kata-patan ko ay ang kaibigan ko. Today, I invite you to remember our kata-patan during the dark years of martial law. Our kata-patan whose voice we heard in February 1986. With Senator Ninoy and President Cory, we remember our kata-patan, Jaime Cardinal Sin. How can we forget the endearing line “Remember I love you all very dearly!” When the families of the prisoners of martial law had lost friends, Cardinal Sin stayed on and listened and spoke for us.

We miss Cardinal Sin. We need Cardinal Sin. We need him whom we knew loved us and cared for us. The friend serves. The friend brings out the best in us. The friend tells us the bare and painful truth because he wants us to be better. Friends do not use friends. Friends do not bribe and pay off. There are no friends for an evil cause.

Can public service be truly a relationship of equal friends and not be a relationship of patronage? Can politicians be friends of the people respecting their dignity and not just pacifying them with promises of dole outs and the thrill of lottery? Do we still bring out the best in one another because we give one another equal opportunities-- which is what democracy is all about?

The nation for which Senator Ninoy died needs katapatan. We need to restore faithfulness. We need to bring back truthfulness. We need to become friends again and heal our land. This is the healing balm that our sick nation needs.

Peace for Mindanao? There will be no peace without honesty! There will be no peace without faithfulness to your commitment. There will be no peace if people use their friends for selfish game plans. The new name of kapayapaan is katapatan!

Senator Ninoy, President Cory and Cardinal Sin have a common source of their katapatan—the Blessed Virgin. We remember Senator Ninoy clutching a rosary and wearing our Lady’s scapular. The devotion of President Cory to the rosary is known even by non believers. Cardinal Sin’s love for Mother Mary carried him through from childhood to his final days with us.

Let us give our three heroes a gift of prayer for the nation from August twenty one until August thirty one. Let us make these ten days become days of blessings for the nation. Let us pray an additional rosary during these ten days. Let us receive Holy Communion everyday for these ten days. Let us pause every six o clock in the evening, pray the Angelus again and offer three minutes of silence for the nation. Ten days of prayer for the nation…

We beg Mary conceived without original sin to bring our nation back to Jesus. May Mary the Queen who lived faithfulness, truthfulness and friendship to its fullness hold our hand and lead us to Jesus, our only hope. Amen.

 

+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS

Bishop of Balanga

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The Roman Catholic
Diocese of Balanga
(Bataan, Philippines)