MANILA (Updated) -- President Benigno Aquino III and his family attended Sunday a Mass at the La Salle Greenhills in San Juan City, commemorating the first death anniversary of their mother, former President Corazon "Cory" Aquino.
A short program titled "Her Legacy, Our Promise," preceded the 9:30 a.m. Mass officiated by Bishop Socrates Villegas, a close family friend of the Aquinos.
It was at the La Salle Gym where Mrs. Aquino's wake was held last year before her body was brought to the Manila Cathedral. She died after battling colon cancer for more than a year.
Aside from the President, his sisters -- Pinky Aquino-Abellada, Ballsy Aquino-Cruz, Viel Aquino-Dee, and celebrity Kris Aquino-Yap -- and other family members, relatives, friends, and supporters also attended the commemorative Mass.
After the Mass, the entire family will proceed to the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City where the former chief executive was buried beside her husband, Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr.
Masses will also be offered in the cities and towns of Pampanga province Sunday by a group calling itself as Pinoy Patriots in honor of the country's icon of democracy.
Pinoy Patriots is an umbrella of municipal, city, and national volunteers who supported President Aquino's bid in the May 10 national elections.
The scheduled masses in Pampanga are as follows:
* Metropolitan Cathedral, San Fernando City -- 6:15 a.m.
* St. James the Apostle Parish, Guagua -- 6 a.m.
* Parish of San Matias, Sto. Tomas -- 6 a.m.
* St. Peter the Apostles, Apalit -- 6:30 a.m.
* San Miguel Arkangel Parish, Masantol -- 5:30 a.m.
* St. Nicolas de Tolentino, Macabebe -- 6 a.m.
* St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish, Porac -- 6:30 a.m.
* Nuestra Señora del Pilar Parish, San Simon -- 7 a.m.
* San Guillermo Parish, Bacolor -- 8 a.m.
* St. Joseph the Worker Parish; Floridablanca -- 8 a.m.
* Virgen De los Remedios Parish, Minalin -- 6 a.m.
* Sta. Rita de Cascia Parish, Sta. Rita -- 6:30 a.m.
* St. Augustine Church, Lubao - 8 a.m.
* Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, Camp Olivas, San Fernando City -- 6:30 a.m.
* Sta. Catalina Parish Church, Arayat -- 6 a.m.
* San Bartolome Parish Church, Magalang -- 7 a.m.
* Sta. Ana Parish Church, Sta. Ana -- 6 a.m.
* St. Andrew Parish Church, Candaba -- 8:15 a.m.
* St. Aloysius Gonzaga Parish, San Luis -- 6 a.m.
* Sta. Monica Parish Church, Mexico -- 6:30 a.m.
The local government of San Fernando have also decorated thousands of yellow ribbons around the city to pay tribute to the country's first woman President.
New People Power
The late President, fondly called "Tita Cory" by the public, is considered an icon of democracy for having been one of the leaders of the 1986 People Power Revolution that ended the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos's 20-year rule.
Mrs. Aquino's nephew Rafael "Rapa" Lopa, executive director of the Ninoy and Cory Aquino Foundation, earlier said several organizations will pledge their commitment to help the new Aquino administration and usher in a new "People Power."
"We want the commemoration of President Cory's first death anniversary to go beyond the tradition of 'babang luksa' and the celebration of her life as our unique icon of democracy and integrity in governance," Lopa said in a statement.
"Now that the spirit of volunteerism is very much alive, we'd like to harness our people's talents and energy to make a difference among needy sectors of our society," he added.
These include the groups One Tama, Hapag-Asa Integrated Nutrition Program, Dynamic Teen Company, Gawad Kalinga, Sparks for Change, 57 75, Kids Foundation, Aklat, Gabay, Aruga Tungo sa Pag-angat at Pag-asa (AGAPP), and Yes Pinoy Foundation.
Several cyclists have also took part in "Ride for Cory" in honor of Mrs. Aquino before the program. They rode around the Ortigas-Boni Serrano-Edsa-Connecticut loop from 6:45 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. for the benefit of cancer-stricken Filipinos and their loved ones, the organizers said.
Giant photo mosaic
On Saturday, President Aquino led the unfurling of a giant photo mosaic of her mother in commemoration of the democracy icon's first death anniversary.
Cory's death sparked calls for his only son to run for the presidency.
President Aquino, meanwhile, credited his mother for his success.
"I remember her best for what she taught me when she said I could not live with myself knowing that I could have done something and I chose not to. That lesson about conviction was critical in my decision to run for the presidency," the President said.
President Aquino appealed to the people to support him and be at his side, recalling the public's support to his mother.
"The burden she (Cory) once carried is now upon me. She managed to overcome it with the help of the people. I hope and pray you will also be at my side so the change we committed to work on together will soon become a reality," he said.
He added that while the mosaic is a symbol of the renewed hope following Cory's death, the real challenge is in making her example and legacy "part of our daily lives."
"All throughout her life, she demonstrated love not only for her family but for every single Filipino. Remember this as you widen your horizons and realize there are people who may not be as fortunate as you are," the President said.
President Aquino then urged Filipinos not to give up in facing many problems, saying his mother confronted many challenges and never gave up, "no matter how difficult they were."
The President, with Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim and members of his mother's Cabinet, inspected the four-ton 3,200-photo mosaic measuring 200 by 250 feet, following its unfurling.
He extended sincere thanks to those who participated in the project.
The ceremony was held past 2 p.m., shortly after heavy rains had subsided.
"Ito ay Cory weather, tumitila na ang ulan (This is Cory weather. The rain finally stopped)," Mrs. Aquino's spokeswoman Lourdes Siytangco said.
President Aquino was clad in black at the event. Vice President Jejomar Binay, a close supporter of Mrs. Aquino, wore yellow.
Singer Jose Mari Chan rendered a song based on a poem written for Mrs. Aquino by her husband Ninoy, whose assassination in 1983 prompted her to run for president against then strongman Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.
Photojournalist Revoli Cortez, who took the photos in the mosaic, presented President Aquino with a replica of the mosaic before the formal unfurling.
The 3,200 photos of Cory, printed on a tarpaulin, will also attempt to land the Philippines in the Guinness Book of World Records.
A renewed sense of hope is one of the biggest legacies of the death of former President Aquino one year ago, said Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda.
"The death of President Corazon Aquino gave us a renewed sense of hope. During the Arroyo administration people were very skeptical, not believing then President Gloria Arroyo. When Mrs. Aquino died, it brought back memories of Edsa I in 1986 and the struggle against a dictatorship...that we can fight for what is right)," he said on government-run dzRB radio.
"In death, she became all the more an icon of good governance and democracy," he added.
The Palace aide further said that at the time Mrs. Aquino died, the nation's biggest problem was hopelessness.
"Mrs. Aquino's death due to colon cancer instilled in us a new sense of hope," continued Lacierda. (AH/JMR/Jovi T. De Leon/PR/Sun.Star Pampanga/Sunnex)