MANILA, AUGUST 4, 2013 (PHILSTAR) COMMONSENSE By Marichu A. Villanueva - At this stage of his administration, President Benigno “Noy” Aquino III is past the halfway mark of his term which ends on June 30, 2016. From his own countdown, President Aquino, as of last Monday, still has two years, 11 months and two days left before the day he steps down from office at Malacañang.

No less than President Aquino stated this fact in his remarks at the opening of the exhibit of paintings and other art done by his late mother, former President Corazon “Cory” Aquino.

P-Noy along with sisters Ballsy Cruz and Viel Dee graced the opening of the public exhibit last Monday night at the Manila Hotel. Actually, it was his sister Ballsy who was quoted saying they have started a countdown even long before P-Noy assumed office after his inauguration on June 30, 2010.

Though the President came with a prepared speech, I could sense that he was the one who wrote the entire speech. No one knows his beloved mother more than the only son himself.

P-Noy likened his late mother’s passion for art to his own “love of books and music.” His mother though, he revealed, found time to engage on her passion for painting only several years after she stepped down from the presidency in 1992.

Like his mother’s passion for art, he said, his own “love for books and music” must also have to wait until his presidency is done and over with by June 2016.

“For now — and for the next two years,11 months, and two days — the thought of turning up the volume, and actually immersing myself in a book without worrying about things of national importance, must remain something to look forward to,” President Aquino cited.

In the meantime, P-Noy could only sigh just looking at his collection of books and compact discs (CDs) that “grow taller” because he has yet to find time to enjoy reading or playing them. “I believe that what those books and CDs are to me, painting was to Mom — a president who, in light of the enormous challenges she faced, had to defer simpler pleasures for a later time,” P-Noy pointed out.

It was only in early 1996, he recalled, when his Mom started to work with oil and acrylic under the guidance of a certain Jeff Consumo “to produce studies on her favorite subjects: women and flowers.”

He recalled his mother also held joint art exhibits with friends, and sold some of her paintings to raise funds for her advocacies. Even while she was already battling colon cancer, we were told, Mrs. Aquino was still busy with her brushes in one of the rooms at their family residence on Times St. in Quezon City that was converted into her personal studio.

Perhaps, painting was a way for Mrs. Aquino to gloss over the pains she was suffering during those days by keeping herself occupied.

After her presidency, she invited us Malacañang reporters who covered her to their Times residence for a reunion every now and then, for lunch or snacks. During one of those gatherings, Mrs. Aquino gave us a glimpse of her initial works. Little did we know she would later blossom into a full-fledged artist.

Through these years, Mrs. Aquino had produced so many paintings. Working predominantly with bright colors, Mrs. Aquino gave her precious artworks as gifts to her very close friends, allies, former officials of her administration, relatives, and most especially to her own five children.

The exhibit of artworks, dubbed “A Gift of Self,” was organized by people very close to Mrs. Aquino led by her former official spokesperson, ex-press undersecretary Deedee Siytangco. The exhibit features 100 pieces of Mrs.Aquino’s art lent for public viewing until August 2 to mark the fourth anniversary of her death.

At the time of her death, the 76-year-old Mrs. Aquino had an unfinished canvass on her easel at her studio dated February 2009.

The exhibit includes several pieces of paintings and artworks given by Mrs. Aquino to her very close friends like Senate president Franklin Drilon, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. who was sharing to the public his rare collection of the late president’s cross-stitch artwork. Metrobank founder George Ty and his wife Mary had the most number of Mrs.Aquino’s artworks on display at the exhibit.

Other people who shared Mrs. Aquino’s work for the exhibit included STAR president and chief executive officer Miguel Belmonte, Executive Secretary Paquito “Jojo” Ochoa. Virgie Ramos of Swatch Philippines, came late for her flower painting by Mrs. Aquino which she showed me at the exhibit that even had a “Hello, Kitty” character on it.

P-Noy disclosed he has been keeping one of his Mom’s paintings of some flowers and a rosary displayed in his office in Malacañang – an office once used by the late President Ferdinand Marcos himself. “Mom’s paintings are a very small part of the legacy she left behind,” P-Noy pointed out.

Mrs. Aquino’s greatest legacy made her the “icon of democracy” when she was swept into presidency during the historic February 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution that toppled the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines.

If there’s one legacy that Mrs. Aquino left unfinished, it is her writing a personal memoir of those historic days, including the six years in office she led the Philippines as the country’s first woman president. As I gathered, she was making a memoir in her own handwriting and finished several chapters.

She intended to dedicate and give the book to her grandchildren. Her former speechwriter, Teodoro “Teddy” Locsin was reportedly one of those who were able to read the finished chapters for editing.

It was going to be very factual and candid that she told and joked to her very close friends that it might incur the ire of some, what with the honest sentiments on the events and personalities during those days in her life.

Her memoir project was apparently set aside when she fell seriously ill. I guess, writing is so much more stressful. I should know because we know how stressful it is to write, especially for us who have to meet deadlines.

Like P-Noy, he, too, has a deadline to meet within which to complete and fulfill the campaign promises he made to the Filipinos. In his own countdown for the “matuwid na daan” and “walang mahirap kung walang corrupt,” the remaining days of his term are dedicated toward these twin ends.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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