Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Very Special Moment With President Cory

by Antonio C. Antonio
August 1, 2014

Today is the 5th Death Anniversary of President Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino.  This is just my simple tribute to the hero of all freedom-loving Filipinos.

In the 1st quarter of 1989, the TarlaqueƱos, under the leadership of Governor Mariano Un Ocampo III, organized a dinner to honor the greatest daughter of Tarlac, President Corazon C. Aquino.  This occasion eventually became a fund raiser to support the livelihood projects for the people of Tarlac.  President Cory was very gracious to lend her presence in this noble cause.

As sure as this was an austere activity, most of the participants in the program were volunteers.  With three other amateur/bathroom singers (Em Santos, Malou Dizon and Armin Ibarra), I found myself a reluctant volunteer to provide entertainment for President Cory, the numerous guest dignitaries and the paying patrons.  We had barely two weeks to choose the appropriate musical pieces, re-arrange songs and record the background music.  We only had two practice sessions in a small room at the Tarlac Provincial Capitol building but nothing enough to prepare us for singing in a venue as spacious as the main function hall of the Philippine International Convention Center.

So the great day came and our moment of trial was at hand.  It was hard enough to sing before a handful of friends, harder when we had to sing before a crowd of 4 thousand and hardest when the President of the Republic was present and barely 8 feet away from us.  As we were being introduced preparatory to our number, Governor Mar, as he promised us earlier, leaned towards President Cory to provide us with a small measure of “excuse” that we were all amateurs and mere volunteers to this daunting task.  I noticed that President Cory nodding as Governor Mar whispered to her… then she looked our way and gave us a reassuring smile that things will work out right.

The music blared through the crystal clear sound system of the PICC and I stepped forward to start things off.  It was hard enough to stand there and sing… harder since I had to be the first one to sing and set the tone for the entire performance.  My knees trembled as I filled my chest with air.  Then, on cue, I belted the lines:  “See the fire in the sky.  We feel the beating of our hearts together…”  The crowd suddenly burst with a round of applause as I stepped backwards and Em stepped forward to do the next 2 lines of the first song.  Then I looked towards President Cory and our eyes met.  She gave me an approving nod and I will never forget her smile.  Our nervousness was suddenly gone and we proceeded like professional singers… like we did this every day of our lives.

Three more songs and our part was over.  After taking a bow, all of us approached President Cory and she said:  “Sabi ni Mar amateur daw kayo?  Gee!...  you guys were very good! Thank you.”  I remember answering: “Salamat po Ma’am for the encouragement, you really made it easy for us.”

This is our unforgettable experience with President Cory.  Like the person she really is, she helped us calm down when we were so nervous, she made us feel strong when we were wilting in fear, she made us believe in ourselves when we had less of it and she made us feel that we can do things beyond our own capabilities.  President Cory’s simple smile, noble nod and dignified demeanor encouraged us, ordinary singers, to sing ordinary songs extra-ordinarily well.  This is indeed a very special moment with President Cory.

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