A 56-year-old street vendor in Quezon City rushed to the Capitol Medical Center Thursday morning right after hearing the passing of former President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III.
Irene Navidad said she was manning her cigarette stall along Tomas Morato Ave. when she saw on Facebook the announcement that the former president died at the hospital.
Still wearing a black apron on top of her black sando, she left her stall and went to the Capitol, hoping to see the Aquinos and pay respect to Noynoy.
“Pinabantay ko sa anak ko yung tindahan (I asked my daughter to look after my stall),” she told Manila Bulletin in an interview.
Navidad was eager to see Noynoy, even just his body, as she said, she looked up to him so much.
She said that during Aquino’s administration, street vendors like her were still allowed on the sidewalks and could earn more.
“Para sa akin, okay sila sa mahihirap. Noong nawala sila, naghirap kami, noong nawala si Pres. Noynoy (They’re considerate of the poor. After his administration, our life became harder),” she said. “Eh nagtitinda ako, affected ako (I was only a street vendor. So I’m really affected).”
“Nakakaapekto rin po pala kung sino yung namumuno sa gobyerno. Tinatapurak [ngayon] ‘yung mga nagtitinda, masyado akong nasasaktan, nagbago po ‘yung takbo ng buhay namin [noong nawala si Noynoy] (I just realized that sitting officials also affect us. Right now, they’re not treating street vendors well. I’m really hurt. Our lives have changed),” she added.
When the ambulance supposedly carrying the body of the former leader left the Capitol at around 12:40 p.m., Navidad joined other media personnel in taking videos.
She was teary eyed when she was narrating her good memories as a street vendor under the Aquino administration.
She said even just her presence outside the Capitol was enough to express her support and respect to Aquino even in his death.
“Di na namin iniisip yung pulitika. Bilang mahihirap, ang hinahanap namin, kung papano kami itrato ng husto (We don’t think about politics. As poor people, we only seek that we be treated humanely),” she said.
Aquino’s former Cabinet members, including Mar Roxas, Albert Del Rosario, Sen. Francis Pangilinan, Jose Rene Almendras and Albert Del Rosario, were also at the hospital but they did not provide any statement.
Only former Presidential Deputy Spokesperson Abigail Valte talked to the media and said the Aquino family would be the one releasing a statement regarding Aquino’s death.
Noynoy passed away at age 61 after succumbing to renal disease secondary to diabetes at around 6:30 a.m.
Meanwhile, Quezon City 6th District Rep. Kit Belmonte, who was also in the area, said the ambulance carrying the body of the former president was bound for Heritage Memorial Park
“It’s a sad day for the nation,” he said.
The former Cabinet members left the hospital before 12 p.m. The convoy supposedly of the Aquino family followed at around 12:48 p.m.
The situation outside the Capitol Medical Center was tense as police personnel were deployed to Mother Ignacia and Quezon Avenues to oversee traffic and prevent several onlookers from gathering.
The stretch of Scout Magbanua was also closed to traffic.
Cristina Ustinano, a 50-year-old vendor outside the hospital, was clueless that the former president was already inside the hospital.
She said she only learned that Aquino died after asking the media and several uniformed personnel who swarmed the area around 7 a.m.