Bicolanos pay tribute to PNoy

By Rhaydz B. Barcia


Albayanos from all walks of life continue to pay tribute by lighting candles and offering flowers at the makeshift memorial for former President Benigno S. Aquino III at the foot of Christ the King image within the compound of St. Gregory the Great Cathedral here.


The makeshift memorial for the former president, which will last for nine days, is draped with a yellow and black cloth where a portrait of PNoy is displayed in the middle beside the two yellow ribbons.


It was set up by the Diocese of Legazpi to allow the Bicolanos to pay tribute to PNoy in solidarity with grieving Filipinos across the country.


Last June 26, Bishop Joel “Bong” Z. Baylon of the Diocese of Legazpi offered a requiem mass for Aquino along with the clergymen. The requiem mass was participated by nuns, parishioners and supporters of the Aquinos but no big-named politicians in Albay attended the concelebrated mass.


In his homily, Baylon recalled the goodness, simplicity, honesty and “Tuwid na Daan’’ mantra of PNoy who stood and raised the country’s flag as he defended the West Philippines Sea against China before the international arbitral tribunal in the Hague, Netherlands.


“We are gathered today to pay our last respects to former President Benigno Aquino III and pray for the eternal repose of his soul. The news of his untimely death caught many of us by surprise. It brought great sadness to many of us. These last few days we have heard people great and small share their thoughts and memories about President PNoy,” the prelate said.

PNOY MEMORIAL Bishop Joel “Bong” Z. Baylon of the Diocese of Legazpi lights a candle during the wreath laying and candle lighting ceremony at the makeshift memorial for former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino. -Rhaydz B. Barcia


Under President PNoy there were no more under the table deals, no hocus pocus. And no more “wang-wang”! He was simple in his ways as he was frugal with his means.


“During PNoy’s administration more than 4 million of poor families were added to the number of those who received Conditional Cash Transfers (CCT). And we remember him as the President who stood up to China and defended our sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea,” Baylon said.


“It was the right thing to do,” PNoy said in response, after he was conferred the Ka Pepe Diokno Award last Feb. 26, 2021 precisely for his efforts in this regard.


“But he had his share of shortcomings, as we all do, human as we are. No need to mention them here. But indeed, as these famous lines from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar remind us, “the evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred in their bones.” The good deeds of men often go unnoticed, indeed, and even if they are, these are easily forgotten, and so they die with them,” Baylon said.


“Despite his shortcomings, I believe PNoy gave his all for the nation – for us his fellow Filipinos, especially the poor and the powerless. During his presidency, PNoy dreamt of a Daang Matuwid – “tanos na dalan” in our dialect. I believe he tried his best to live this out and make his presidency function with honesty and integrity, despite wrong decisions and miscues here and there,” he added.


But it takes more than one man according to Baylon to make real changes in government or any form of human society for that matter. Today’s First Reading reminds us that no one lives for oneself, nor dies for oneself. For my life is not meant to be for me and me alone.


“As we pay our last respects to him through this Eucharistic celebration, may we also learn to do the right thing. May we do the right thing by being honest in our dealings with and service to our people, and not provide them with empty promises and palliatives such as monetary benefits when special occasions come, like weddings, baptisms and confirmations,” the prelate said.


“Let us do the right thing by providing our people the truth, and not teach them to put their trust in fake news and propaganda, puro paganda, wala namang tunay na nakikita. Let us do the right thing by letting our people grow in maturity in their political and social lives by allowing them to participate actively in decision-making that will lead to true progress and prosperity – not only for the few but for everyone,” Baylon said.


“Let us do the right thing, so that our people will eventually emancipate themselves from the shackles of grinding poverty and hopelessness, and look forward to a brighter tomorrow for themselves and their children. Let us do the right thing so that together we shall have more courage to face this pandemic with the needed solutions and correct protocols, and not be at the mercy of trial and error in our actions.


“My sisters and brothers, let us do the right thing. No one lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself. While we live, we live for the Lord; and when we die, we die for the Lord. May our merciful and loving God have mercy on the soul of former President Benigno Aquino III,” the prelate said in his concluding homily.


President PNoy left remarkable legacies in Bicol specifically on climate change adaptation, climate proofing and mitigation measures. Former Albay governor now Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda of the 2nd District of Albay said that during Aquino”s incumbency he initiated the project NOAH, a success story in disaster management and also in Climate Change Adaptation.


“I was governor of Albay during the entire term of President Aquino. With his support, Albay became one of the world’s leaders in DRR where he initiated Project NOAH, a success story in disaster management and also in Climate Change Adaptation,” Salceda said.


“This was best exemplified by his support of the Albay declaration and the Climate Change Academy based in Bicol University, which his administration promoted as the national framework for the mainstreaming of global warming actions where the Philippines was a recognized leader G77 in United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations which translated to local and national climate change adaptation. This culminated in my co-chairing, the first Asian, in 2013 of the United Nations Green Climate Fund (GCF), which continues to support crucial climate change adaptation programs in the country today,” the lawmaker said.


PNoy also sought to make governance more modern and responsive, a Salceda added.


“It was under President Aquino’s term that budgeting became more participatory through the bottom-up budgeting (BUB) system. His expansion of socioeconomic programs such as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) continues to help lift millions out of abject poverty,” the solon said.


His work to engage the private sector in the country’s development is also a model which continues to inform regional and national development. On the world stage, the Philippines became recognized as a rising economic power and an active participant in solving the world’s problems, Salceda said.


“President Aquino will be remembered for his sincere desire to serve the country, the best way he can,” Salceda, classmate of PNoy said.


Former mayor now vice mayor Jorem Archangel of Jovellar town also expressed gratitude to PNoy for good governance, infrastructure and farm to market road projects that fueled economic development in his town.


“We the people of Jovellar, Albay extend our condolences to the bereaved family of former Philippine President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III. Thank you, Mr. President, for giving us good governance and for making our municipality a recipient of your BUB projects, which included infrastructures and farm to market roads which contributed to the economic betterment of our municipality. Thank you and may you rest in peace,” Archangel said.