A long line of people, mostly clad in yellow, lined the stretch of Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City as early as dawn Friday waiting for their turn to pay their respects to the late President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III at the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU).
The public viewing would run for 12 hours starting at 10 a.m. But hundreds came and patiently waited even before the opening of ADMU’s Church of Gesu, where Aquino’s cremains were brought from the Heritage Memorial Park in Taguig City and reportedly from his sister’s residence in Greenmeadows where the urn containing the cremated remains of the late leader stayed overnight.
Knorby Roquiño, a former campaign manager of Noynoy when he ran for presidency in 2010, joined those who mourn his passing.
“Para magbigay ng huling pugay. Ganon din pasasalamat sa tinuturing ko at tinuturing ng marami na pinakamabuting at pinaka may dangal, may integridad at matapat na pangulo ng bansa (I went here to honor him for the last time and to express my gratitude to someone we considered as the kindest, most honorable president of the country),” the yellow-clad Roquiño told reporters.
Roquiño looked up to Aquino as his family, particularly his father Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino II and former President Cory Aquino, whom he said earned their rightful places in history for restoring democracy in the country.
“Ngayon, sa kabila ng pag panghuhusga sa mga dilawan at kulay dilaw, hindi nila pwedeng itanggi ang malaking naitulong sa mamamayan, sa bansa ni PNoy noong kanyang administrasyon ng anim na taon mula 2010 hanggang 2016 (Despite the judgments being passed against members of the Liberal Party, we cannot set aside the fact that President Aquino helped the country and its people much during his six-year administration from 2010 to 2016),” he said.
Some of those who fell in line for the one-day public viewing came from different parts of the country, including Maureen Borja, who came all the way from Camarines Sur and was already outside ADMU around 6 a.m.
The gates of the university opened to the public at 10 a.m. but the crowd inside the Church of Gesu was limited to only 140 at a time.
Former and present government officials, including former Foreign Affairs Secretary Jose Rene Almendras, Senator Francis Pangilinan, former senators Antonio Trillanes and Rodolfo Biazon, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenza, Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Cirilito Sobejana, also paid their respects.
“It was very sudden,” Almendras said about the death of the leader, who passed away at 6:30 a.m. on June 24 due to renal disease secondary to diabetes.
Almendras said there would have been no public viewing for Aquino but the family decided to push through after he tested negative for COVID-19.
“Just to clarify, because a lot of people were complaining, bakit ang tagal mag-announce, bakit walang plano (why did it take a long time to announce what would be done to his body),” he said.