My Cory Aquino story

By Cristina DC Pastor

During the Marcos Dictatorship, the Aquino family was hardly covered by the media because much of the media at the time was controlled by the government. We at WHO magazine (of the Hans Menzi Bulletin publishing family) decided we wanted to talk to them. I was given the assignment to interview Kris who was 7 years old at the time and was campaigning for her father Ninoy who was in detention: I was to ask her what she thought about democracy and if she thought the Philippines was a free country. I went to the house on Times Street. Cory opened the door. She was the proverbial housewife at the time.

I said something like, ‘Hi Ma’am I’m so sorry to come without notice…I’m a reporter from WHO magazine and I wanted to interview Kris for an article about democracy.’ She was thrilled and started to laugh. ‘Are you sure? Nobody writes about us, nobody comes to interview us,’ she said hinting at the family being totally ignored by the media. She asked us in. Kris was in school at the time but Cory very eagerly agreed to set up a time for me to meet her.

We — the photographer, the company driver and me —  returned after a couple of days. Kris was ready. She was cute, had long hair, a little on the chubby side, and was wearing pambahay shorts and a regular shirt. She didn’t seem too happy, but she didn’t look coerced either. She faced me and the camera but insisted on sipping chocolate drink from a tetrapak during the interview.  Cory was apologetic. She answered all my questions, was very articulate while Cory sat nearby to listen. She was pleased, and told us, “Oy, hindi ko tinuruan yan ah,” she chortled. I thought Cory was a little bungisngis, and I liked her instantly.

After the story came out, I received a box of pastries from Cory, her way of saying thanks. Her driver Teody delivered them to our Liwayway building office on Pasong Tamo. I came to know her number and every time there was news about her family (like Ninoy being granted a Christmas furlough) she would give me a call.

When Ninoy was granted a Christmas furlough, she called me. ‘Cristina, you might want to come here, the senator is on furlough and we’re having a small party for his friends and supporters. I want you to meet him, I want him to meet WHO.’ She added that (Doy or Monching or Jovy) might be coming too. Of course, we grabbed the opportunity. I came with my editor Cielo after work. We were thrilled, excited, maybe a little intimidated to meet Marcos’ Number One Political Enemy. Cory introduced us amid all the LP bigshots in the room. For something like 30 minutes, me, Cielo and Ninoy in one corner of the living room just talked about anything that came to mind – life in detention, Marcos’ plans for him, the opposition, Kris stumping for him, etc. We asked him to autograph a copy of our magazine.

Then, Kris approached her father – naglalambing — urging him to go with her to the karnabal nearby. Ninoy laughed and told her it was late and he couldn’t leave his guests. Cory was smiling, full of understanding because Kris appeared to be missing her father so much and wanted to spend more time with him. Kris is said to be her father’s daughter because she was comfortable in the spotlight. Cory sent a box of cookies again to our office after that.

Cory and I lost touch when she became First Woman President by which time hordes of media would be after her. But one day, while attending a rally at Luneta where she was a speaker, I ran into Teody, her driver. “Hoy andiyan ka pala,” I must have said. He said he’s looking for a watch repair shop around T.M. Kalaw because the President wanted her watch fixed. I thought it was funny that the most powerful woman in the Philippines (at the time) needed to have her watch fixed when she could just buy a new one. Teody said, “Matipid talaga si ma’am. Kung pwedeng i-kumpuni, kumpuni muna bago bumili ng bago.”

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© The FilAm 2021

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