The Last Month of Cory Aquino, Part 4: Kris stays with Cory until the very end

"I don't know, Boy, where I found the strength. But the whole time talaga, I stayed put. Umupo ako sa loob habang ineembalsama siya. Ine-explain sa akin nung mga taga-Heritage what was going on. I made sure na dumating si Juan Sarte to do the makeup, si Lowell to fix her hair, si Paul Cabral pinatawagan ko para yung damit. And everything came together," relates Kris Aquino on how she stayed with her mom even after Cory's last breath to make sure she would look presentable in


JULY 27 to 29. Bagama't unti-unti nang nanghihina si Tita Cory ay nananatiling malakas ang puso nito.

"You know, from July 27 to 29, she was defying all medical science. They were telling us, dapat at this point, kidneys are shutting down. Dapat at this point, mas erratic na yung heart. You know, she was holding on. Ganun ka-strong yung heart ng mom."

Isa rin sa dumalaw kay Tita Cory, ang kaibigan nitong si dating Pangulong Joseph Estrada. Matatandaang nagkabanggaan sa pulitika ang dalawa dahil isa si Tita Cory, kasama ang dating Bise Presidenteng si Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo sa mga nanguna para mapatalsik sa liderato si Erap. Ngunit nagbago ang lahat simula nang kalabanin ni Tita Cory ang ngayon ay si Pangulong Arroyo. Naging kaalyansa ng oposisyon si Tita Cory at humingi pa ng 'sorry' kay Erap sa ginawa nitong pakikibahagi sa pagpapatalsik sa kanya. Simula noon ay naging magkaibigan na silang dalawa.

"I want to share this because I respect this man so much now. Nakiusap si President Erap sa pamilya kung puwede siyang dumalaw. And people close to both our families said, okay lang sa kanila, pero kung puwede tahimik na lang. And he understood. Dumaan siya sa basement. Umikot siya. And when media asked him kung nakausap niya ang mom or kung nakapasok siya. He said, 'Nilabas lang ako ni Noy at ni Kris'. That's not true. We allowed him inside. But I think he wanted to give our family that privacy. And I want to say thank you for that because ayaw niyang malagay siguro sa alanganin ang pamilya na mabigyan ng political color. But the fact that he chose to say it that way made me appreciate him so much. Maraming salamat po.

"He told me na, 'Alam mo, Kris, yung first conversation namin ng mom mo nung bago akong senador at presidente siya, tinanong niya ako, 'Senator, do you think okey lang na payagan kong mag-artista si Kris?' And then sinabi niya raw sa mom na, 'Maganda naman po. Mukha naman pong may talent. At mukhang gusto siya ng tao. So, payagan n'yo na po.'

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"That was the first time he shared that story with me. And I just told him, 'You know, you've been so good to mom. Quietly, you've been so good. Mom was one of those who attended the forefront na ma-oust siya, but, sa kanya, he reached out. Almost linggo-linggo may pagkain siyang pinadadala. Quietly, Boy. Lumaki yung respeto ko kasi nirespeto niya kami bilang pamilya. When mom needed a friend, he was a friend. Kaya maraming salamat sa buong pamilya nila."

JULY 30. Inasikaso ni Kris ang problema niya sa kanyang mother studio, ang ABS-CBN, tinext niya ang mga nakatampuhan niyang ABS-CBN executives na sina Cory Vidanes at Deo Endrinal para dumalaw kay Tita Cory dahil parang nararamdaman ng dating Pangulo na may iniintindi pang problema ang bunsong si Kris.

"July 30, I texted Tita Cory Vidanes. I texted Deo and I said, 'I think mom's holding on kasi hindi pa tayo okey. Please come. Let's put this behind us. I know you love me and I'm sorry. And I'd like you to be able to talk to mom to reassure her'. Dumating si Tita Cory, dumating si Deo. Immediately nakausap nila ang mom.

"And I want to say thank you. I want to say thank you to my ABS-CBN family for all of these. Thank you for the tribute. Thank you for the hard work. Thank you for giving my mom so much importance. Thank you for understanding me. Thank you for making us feel, my whole family, na family tayo talaga."

JULY 31. Unti-unti nang bumibigay ang vital signs ni Tita Cory.

"July 31, kasi 11 a.m. nag-start mag-fluctuate yung vital signs ng mom. They have to change the machine kasi they thought baka something is wrong with the machine. Because para talagang the heart rate, biglang magdya-jump ng 130, babagsak to 70, magna-90. Para talagang roller-coaster na hindi mo maintindihan. So, I called Noy. I said, 'Noy, I think you should come'. Kasi siya yung pinakamalayo.

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"Four p.m. we had mass. Nabuo lahat ng kapatid ng mom. Her two older siblings, my Uncle Pete [Pedro Cojuangco] and my Auntie Jo came. Uncle Joe and Auntie Passy were there. Eleven o' clock [p.m.] nag-aalisan na yung iba, and I said, magsi-siesta ako and I'm setting my alarm to 3 in the morning para 3 onwards ako.And after midnight nag-alisan yung iba because sinabing mukhang okey na, nag-i-stabilize."

AUGUST 1. Ang araw ng kamatayan ni Tita Cory. Dito nagpakita ng katatagan si Kris, hindi niya iniwan ang ina hanggang sa maiayos ito sa kanyang kabaong.

"At 2:30 [a.m.], Boy, ginising kami. Sinabi, parang iba na. Alam mo yung before there would be peaks. Ganun pala yun na as you're nearing death, nagiging parang hills. Nawawala yung peak, nagiging pabilog. Until lumalaki nang lumalaki yun.

"So, Ate said, 'Let's start praying'. Nagbihis ako, naghilamos ako. We are praying the rosary. And it was the last mystery... nagsimula kami with Joyful hanggang Sorrowful. Yung last mystery ng Sorrowful, dun nag-umpisa na talagang pahina nang pahina.

"Nag-flatline, Boy, after we said the Memorare. Because at that moment, she breathed her last breath. Isang ganun lang... 'Haaah.' It was so peaceful. And that was all we were praying for at binigay sa amin. It was such a peaceful and quiet death. And the rest arrived already as it was flatlining. And then Father Arevalo arrived and they were saying mass. I did not join the mass because I promised mom, sabi ko, 'Mom, to the very end I'm staying with you'.

"I was there, Boy, when they gave... there's a procedure in the hospital. When you do the death procedure may mga kemikal na pinapahid. May tinatali doon sa paa, yung identification and all. May bodybag, ipapasok there. I told her, sabi ko, 'Mom, hanggang sa dulo'. And I told her, 'I promised you, mom, I'm gonna make sure habang nagbi-viewing ang mga tao, you'll look good'.

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"And I would like to say thank you to Makati Medical and also to Mayor [Jejomar] Binay and his family. They made the process fast and they gave us so much respect. Quietly namin nailabas sa ospital ang mom. Kino-ordinate ni Mayor Binay na walang mga sirena, quietly lang, hinatid kami hanggang Heritage [Memorial Park]. I was inside the ambulance with mom.

"I don't know, Boy, where I found the strength. But the whole time talaga, I stayed put. Umupo ako sa loob habang ineembalsama siya. Ine-explain sa akin nung mga taga-Heritage what was going on. I made sure na dumating si Juan Sarte to do the makeup, si Lowell to fix her hair, si Paul Cabral pinatawagan ko para yung damit. And everything came together.

"I was able to kiss her, Boy. I was able to promise her there na sabi ko, 'Mom, I'm really gonna try my best to be good'. Sabi ko, 'I told you I would never leave. I'm still here. I promise you, Mom, na ako ang magte-thank you sa lahat.'"

SHE SAW THE SIGNS. Isinalaysay rin ni Kris kung paanong binigyan siya ng sign ni God para malaman niya na okey na si Tita Cory at kasama na nito ang asawang si Ninoy sa langit.

"I want to share this now because the story of that ordeal ends so beautifully. When mom's casket was brought into the viewing room, walang flowers kasi alam namin na magde-drape ng Philippine flag. I didn't order anything because we knew we were coming here [La Salle Greenhills gym]. I was sitting down, and I think her name was Racquel of Heritage said, 'Magpapatong po kami ng bulaklak. We had this done temporary lang until you bring your mom sa La Salle'. I was seated here, near me was Tita Tessie and her family. My cousin Rina and James are beside me.

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"Boy, yung flowers na pinagawa ng Heritage na I knew nothing of, nung pinatong they were stargazers. The very flowers na sinabi ni Tita Tessie na napanaginipan niya that dad told her to bring mom. I want to believe, Boy, that was God's message na He was trying to tell me, so that I could tell everybody that mom's okay and that mom's with Him.

"Somehow naniniwala talaga ako sa signs, and that was really God's sign for us to celebrate mom's life. And to celebrate the fact that she's now in heaven. That was the only time I cried there, when I saw those flowers. And I said, thank you that I was there noong una niyang naramdaman na sinusundo siya ni Dad. Thank you that I was there nung pinaramdam ng dad sa akin na magkasama na sila.

"People asked, where do you draw your strength? I think ako yung classic prodigal daughter. Lahat ng puwedeng klaseng pagsubok na puwede kong iparamdam sa mom, nagawa ko talaga. Pero siguro, Boy, I wanna thank her because she gave me the chance to redeem myself. I want to thank God because He gave me that opportunity to be strong and to be beside mom nung talagang kailangan ako ng mom.

"And gusto kong magpasalamat po sa inyong lahat kasi minahal n'yo talaga ang mom ko. We could not ask for more. The only thing I want to say now, I promised this to mom. I was telling her, 'Mom, siguro sumikat ako for a reason.' And I said, 'Promise ko sa iyo, mom, yung devotion mo sa Rosary...' and I promise that to Bishop Soc Villegas who kept annointing mom and who was so close to the family. Sabi ko, 'I'll push for that, mom. In my own way, maybe I can make a Rosary album. Kung ano yung faith mo at yung devotion mo kay Mama Mary, I really told her, Mom, gagawin ko yun. Ipagpapatuloy ko for you. And in that way... Boy, all her text to me, 'Kris, let us continue praying for each other.' It was always that.

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"And I think I want to share that with all of you na she's proud of each and everyone of us. Na bawat Pilipino ipinagmamalaki ng mom. Hindi lang sa ipinapakita n'yo sa kanya but because we're a good country. She never stopped believing na magaling at mabuti ang mga Pilipino. Gusto kong sabihin iyan sa kanilang lahat. Mahal na mahal niya talaga.

"I want to thank you for listening to my story. I only want to share this once because you were so much a part of our story. I think na sa lahat ng nai-share ko sa inyo, mas maiintindihan n'yo kung ano kami as a family. I want to say na, I am the most visible of her children but mom made each and everyone of us feel loved. At sana po, lahat kayo naramdaman n'yo rin kung gaano kayo minahal ng mom. Kung gaano niya shinare ang dad sa inyo, shinare ang buong buhay niya.

"We will be okay. That's our promise to mom. Sabi ko, we're gonna be okay. We're going to take care of each other. We're gonna pray for each other."

Click here for part 3

Click here for part 2

Click here for part 1


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