The Last Month of Cory Aquino, Part 1: Kris relates what she and her family went through

Kris Aquino was told by her mom's doctor that Cory had only weeks to live. "And tinanong niya [Dr. Francis] ako, 'At what point are you at?' And I said, if I'm talking about my family, kaming apat na babae nandun kami sa letting go. Pero si Noy, wala pa doon. He [Francis] said na, 'importanteng mag-usap kayo.' Kasi sa maraming pamilya raw when difficult decisions have to be made, nag-aaway-away, nagkakagulo. That night nag-usap-usap yung mga kapatid ko.


Matapos noong July 19 nang pansamantalang magpaalam si Kris Aquino para mag-leave sa mga shows niya sa ABS-CBN—The Buzz at SNN (Showbiz News Ngayon)—dahil mas pinili niyang makapiling ang kanyang may sakit na inang si dating Pangulong Cory Aquino, nanatiling tahimik si Kris tungkol sa mga sumunod na araw tungkol sa pangyayari at kalagayan ng kanyang ina.

Pero kahapon, August 2, isang araw matapos pumanaw ni dating Pangulong Cory, kasama ang co-host na si Boy Abunda ay naibulalas ni Kris sa The Buzz ang buong kuwento tungkol sa mga kaganapan sa huling buwan ng kanyang ina. Mismong sa La Salle Greenhills gym kung saan unang ibinurol at nagkaroon ng public viewing sa mga labi ni dating Pangulong Cory, nagsagawa ng live coverage ang The Buzz. Nagpaunlak din ng exclusive tell-all interview si Kris kung saan binasag niya ang kanyang pananahimik at nailabas niya ang kanyang emosyon.

Noong una'y kalmado pang nagkukuwento si Kris kay Boy. At may mga sandali pang nangingiti siya at natatawa sa ilang bahagi ng kanyang kuwento. Pero habang tumatagal ang kanyang salaysay ay unti-unti siyang naging emosyonal at hindi na niya napigilan pa ang pag-agos ng kanyang luha.

Base sa karanasan at salaysay ng bunsong anak ni Tita Cory na si Kris (Kristina Bernadette "Kris'' Aquino-Yap, sa totoong buhay), narito ang pagkakasunud-sunod ng mga mahahalagang petsa noong buwan ng Hulyo sa buhay ng pamilyang Aquino, kabilang na ang mga kapatid ni Kris na sina Maria Elena "Ballsy'' Aquino-Cruz, Victoria Eliza "Viel'' Aquino-Dee, Aurora Corazon "Pinky'' Aquino-Abellada, at Senator Benigno Simeon "Noynoy'' C. Aquino III. Detalyado ngang isinalaysay ni Kris ang mga mahahalaga, masasaya, malulungkot at masasakit na kaganapan sa huling buwan ni Tita Cory sa mundo.

JULY 1, 2009. Nang tapatin si Kris ng mga doktor sa Makati Medical Center na weeks na lang ang puwedeng itagal ni Tita Cory.

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"My narrative starts from July 1, Boy. Mom was hospitalized, June 23, kasi hirap na siyang kumain. Because of the swine flu scare at kakagaling ni James [Yap] at ng anak ko [Josh and Baby James] sa Hong Kong, sinabihan ako ng mga doktor, the least I can go was June 30, after the ten days [self-quarantine]. June 30, Tuesday, I didn't go to SNN, I stayed with mom the whole day. July 1 of Wednesday, si Dr. Francis Lopez, who I must pay tribute to, kasi ang bait-bait niya, maalaga, compassionate, pero nagawa niyang ma-explain sa akin nang maayos. Mom was still in the surgical ICU unit.

"I asked Dr. Francis in the morning, deretso yun, hindi ako umalis from Tuesday. I probably got to talk to Francis at about 8:30 in the morning. And nagtanong ako sa kanya na, 'Frans, what time frame are we looking at?' Tinanong niya ako, sabi niya, 'Kris, how much can you handle?' And I said, 'I want the truth. So that, kung ano man ang sasabihin mo sa akin, maibabahagi ko sa mga kapatid ko.' Based on the last PET [positron emission tomography] scan, and because yung fluid build-up sa tiyan ng mom gumagrabe na, ang ibig sabihin daw noon that the cancer was spreading rapidly.

"During the last PET scan, na-reveal ko na rin po ito sa The Buzz, na when we found out about mom's cancer, it was Stage 4, meaning that not only the colon was affected, but her liver as well. Actually, the time that it was diagnosed, the initial diagnosis, they told us, Boy, three months. But when they studied kung saan yung primary cancer, sinabi sa amin na we're looking at one year, eighteen months, two years! Unfortunately, yung stage ng cancer ng mom at that point, walang cure. We could only alleviate the pain and, hopefully, extend her life.

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"So, I asked Francis, this was Wednesday, July 1, sabi ko, 'Tatagal ba ang mom hanggang August 21. Are we looking at a few months?' And he said, 'weeks'. Sabi niya, 'I can't promise you a month, Kris. We're looking at a few weeks.'

"I asked kung ano ang magagawa namin bilang pamilya. And he said, sa pamilya raw, Boy, there are stages. Yung una, yung knowledge, na malalaman mo na ito yung sakit. And then dadaan ka dun sa hope. You wish and you pray and you'll try everything to cure. And then you'll accept. You'll accept that you've done everything you can. And then the last part is letting go. It's giving it to God, ibibigay mo sa Diyos, na Siya na ang bahala.

"And tinanong niya [Dr. Francis] ako, 'At what point are you at?' And I said, if I'm talking about my family, kaming apat na babae, nandun kami sa letting go. Pero si Noy, wala pa doon. He [Francis] said na, 'Importanteng mag-usap kayo.' Kasi sa maraming pamilya raw when difficult decisions have to be made, nag-aaway-away, nagkakagulo. That night, nag-usap-usap yung mga kapatid ko. But I chose to stay with mom.

"I have to share this with all of you, after her colon surgery, but before the radiation therapy sa liver niya, ang mom nagsabi kay Ate [Ballsy]. Sabi niya kay Ate, 'I'm ready to join dad.' And Ate said, 'Mom, we're not ready.' And then that was the end of the conversation, kasi it was so difficult to hear that.

"And I have to share with all of you na si Ate, from the time my dad died, she was my mom's confidential secretary. She was the right-hand. She was there every single day with mom. Nung nagkasakit ang mom, kay Ate siya tumira. So, among all of us, si Ate yung shock absorber ng lahat.

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"After midnight, nag-SNN ako, Boy. Nakuwento ko pa sa mom, sabi ko, 'Mom, alam mo yung media ang nakunan sa akin wala akong pera sa ATM. Kasi walang lumalabas,!" natatawang pag-alala ni Kris. "Sabi niya, 'Why do you need money?' I said, I want to buy Starbucks. And then she said, 'You drink too much coffee. I have money in my wallet. Kumuha ka na lang."

JULY 2. Nang maalala ni Tita Cory ang mga tauhan niyang nagtatrabaho sa kanya. At inutos niya kina Kris na siguraduhing sumusuweldo ang mga ito.

"So, nung Thursday, July 2, we were moved already permanently to a room at the 9th floor of Makati Med. Yung nutrional feeding kinontinue. 'Tapos, siguro dahil dun sa comment ko about needing money, my mom said, 'Tawagan mo si Ate, ha. Make sure na lahat ng tao sa Times [Street sa Quezon City, kung saan located ang bahay ni Tita Cory] nasuwelduhan. And make sure na yung mga allowance ng mga guard niya nabigay.

"That's what kind of person my mom is. Everybody who has worked for our family, years ang tinagal. May 47 years. Her driver, Noli, was there since I was four. So, that's 34 years. Her two closest bodyguards, si Mel in particular, was with her sa Malacañang. So, parang sinisigurado pa niya na make sure kumpleto yung allowance na nakuha nila."

JULY 3. Binisita si Tita Cory ng kanyang mga kapatid.

"July 3, Friday, was the birthday ng Lolo Pepe [Don Jose Chichioco Cojuangco, Cory's father] ko. So, pumunta ang Auntie Passy [Maria Paz Cojuangco-Teopaco], pumunta si Auntie Jo [Josephine Cojuangco-Reyes] at si Uncle Joe [former Cong. Jose S. Cojuangco, Jr.]. Mom was trying to tell them na, 'Uy, I'm better, tingnan n'yo yung fluid sa tiyan ko kumokonti.'

"I left with them, but the nurse told Ate, when I left with my aunts and my uncle, mom turned and started crying. She never wanted anyone of us to see her cry, Boy. And at that point, I knew na she wanted her siblings to still see na matapang siya, na kinakaya niya."

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JULY 4. Ito raw ang isa sa masasayang araw nina Kris with Tita Cory. Kahit nasa ospital ito ay hindi siya nakakalimot sa kanyang mga mahal na apo. Patunay nga ito ng pagiging mabuting lola ni Tita Cory.

"Noong July 4, Saturday, this was one of our happy memories. The kids were with me the whole day. And sinabi ng mom, 'Si Josh, marunong nang mag-behave, pero yung maliit ang ingay talaga.' Kasi si Baby James, kept trying to wake her up, 'Lola, lola!' So, yun talaga yung innocence of childhood talaga.

"I remember then na when we first found out that she was sick, she said na, 'I want to be around for the first birthday of Baby James,'" wika ni Kris habang unti-unti nang nagka-crack ang kanyang boses. "And if people remember, it was during that celebration that she was able to thank everybody because that was about one month before we revealed she has cancer. And then, pinilit niya talaga na she was okay for the second birthday.

"But for Josh's 14th birthday, nagka-dengue yung mga anak. And because they were sick, they couldn't be with mom. But for our last time together, she made sure na may cake si Josh na mabo-blow nung dalawa. We would hear mass kasi sa Meralco. It was near Green Meadows. And it was a belated birthday celebration for Josh. And... yung parang sabi ng mom na mag-order ng food carts na favorite ni Josh. That's what kind of lola she was. And then she was so concerned about my nephew Miguel, who was a fresh graduate, getting a good job. She was so proud of Jiggy nung na-promote sa Nestlé."

JULY 5. Nang unang magsalita si Kris sa The Buzz tungkol sa totoong kalagayan ni Tita Cory. Sa araw ring ito naging masaya si Tita Cory para sa bagong endorsement ni Kris.

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"July 5, Sunday, that was when nabahagi ko sa lahat what we were going through. I told everybody how grateful we were. But I said, sana maintindihan n'yo kung hindi muna kami magkuwento ng lahat.

"After that, I went home, I took a shower, nag-pictorial ako for Eight O'Clock. The next day nag-shoot ako ng commercial. And super happy ang mom, kasi like sabi niya na every new commercial daw, she would feel na parang... alam mo naman sa bayan natin, Boy, pag may endorsement ka, you're a big deal. So, parang sinasabi ng mom na pag nalalaman niya na may bago akong endorsement, nase-secure siya for me. So, July 6, I shot the commercial."

JULY 7. Nang makapag-set na ng schedule si Kris at ang kanyang mga kapatid para sa pagbabantay at pag-aalaga kay Tita Cory sa ospital.

"July 7, I went to the supermarket, I went to SnR, namili ako ng gamit para hindi na ako ever kailangang magpabili ng kape. Nagdala na ako ng coffee maker sa loob ng kuwarto niya.

"And our schedule was set, nag-ayusan kami na Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday night, dun ako natutulog. Thursday umuuwi ako, si Noy ang nagte-take over. Friday hanggang Buzz [Sunday], hindi na naman ako umaalis. And then my sisters would take turns during daytime. We had mass, July 7."

Click here for part 2


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