Vice President Leni Robredo believes the best tribute that Filipinos can give the late former President Benigno Aquino III is to stand up for the Philippines and fight for its democracy.
She spoke after the 40th day mass for the death of Aquino, who died due to renal failure secondary to diabetes, on June 24. It also coincided with the 12th death anniversary of the former President’s mother, the late former President Corazon Aquino.
“Ito na rin siguro yung pinakamagandang tribute na pwede nating ibigay kay PNoy—ang mahanap ang lakas ng loob na tumindig at pandayin ang Pilipinas na pinangarap niya para sa atin (This is, perhaps, the best tribute we can give to PNoy—to find the strength to stand for and forge the Philippines into what he dreams it to be for us),” she said.
“Hindi tayo passive observer lang sa demokrasya kundi may responsibilidad na makilahok (We are not just passive observer to the democracy, but we have a responsibility to participate),” Robredo added as she addressed PNoy’s “boss,” a term he used to refer to the Filipinos.
There were 40 other masses all over the country held to commemorate the 40th day of Aquino’s death, which means in Catholicism, the departing of one’s soul from the world.
Aside from Robredo, the former Chief Executive’s nieces and nephews led the mass while former Senator Bam Aquino, his cousin, hosted the online event.
Singer-songwriter Noel Cabangon, the former President’s friend, sang his song “Kanlungan,” which is said to be one of Aquino’s favorite songs.
The vice president then challenged Filipinos to determine what they can do to continue Aquino’s legacy.
“Ano ang kaya nating gawin dito at ngayon para ipagpatuloy ang mga nasimulan niya? Ano ang posible pa nating makamit para maabot ang mas malalaki pa nating hangarin? Tayo ang boss (What can we do here and now to continue what he has started? What can we still achieve to reach the bigger goals? We are the boss), so how do we prove ourselves worthy na matawag na boss ng isang taong katulad niya (to be called the boss of someone like him?),” she asked.
Robredo said that Aquino believed that the Filipinos can draw strength from each other in achieving what he has long dreamed of for the Philippines.
“Kaya ang tugon natin naka-ugat dapat sa mga pangarap na nagbibigkis sa atin,—isang mundo na mas patas, mas makatao, at mas makatarugan na kung saan lahat nasisilungan, lahat naaaruga, lahat ipinaglalaban (That’s why our response should be rooted in the dreams that bind us—a fairer, more humane, more just world where everyone is sheltered, everyone is taken care of, everyone is being fought for),” she added.
The vice president described Aquino as “good, excellent, and dignified,” someone who was true to his mandate as president.
“Nanatili siya sa tuwid na daan dahil tayo ang boss niya (He stayed on a straight path because we are his boss). He always carried himself with honor and dignity dito man sa Pilipinas o kaharap ang ibang (here in the Philippines or before other) heads of state dahil alam niyang (because he knows) his words and actions reflect who we are as a people,” she said.
“Maraming maraming salamat, Pnoy. Kung worth fighting for kami, mas lalo kang worth fighting for, worth fighting for ang legacy mo, worth fighting for ang mga prinsipyo mo, worth fighting for ang Pilipinas na pinangarap mo (Thank you very much, PNoy. If we are worth fighting for, you are more worth fighting for, your legacy is worth fighting for, your principles are worth fighting for, the Philippines that you dream about is worth fighting for),” Robredo added.
The lady official is the chairman of the Liberal Party, which catapulted Aquino to presidency in 2010. She knew him first from her late husband, former Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, and grew close to the ex-President after her husband’s untimely death in 2012.