08/04/2009 11:07 PM | By Manuel Almario, Community Journalist
Dubai: It was a sea of yellow pouring out of the church and spreading into the street with scatterings of black and white.
Yellow was the colour that symbolised the late Philippines president Corazon "Cory" Aquino and her fight for democracy in the island nation. And all gathered at St Mary's Church on an overcast Monday evening in Dubai to mourn her death.
Watch video: Dubai Filipinos mourn Aquino
The memorial service saw Filipinos from across the UAE offer their respects to a woman who brought hope and freedom to them. She died battling colon cancer at the age of 76 years.
Father Tomasito Veneracion, officiating priest for this memorial service, highlighted 'Tita' or Auntie Cory's advocacy of democracy.
"She was an extraordinary woman when she was president, but after her term, she was an ordinary being, who extended her hand to the needy," he said.
Juliet Solas, the church coordinator, admired Aquino for her strong faith in God.
"We arranged this memorial service not for political reasons, but to show our love and support for Tita Cory due to her faith," she said.
In the crowded church, most wore yellow shirts and ribbons in her memory along with black and white ... the colours of mourning. People were praying and some were sobbing.
Others shared their memories of her with Gulf News. Donabelle Mamaril and her husband Manuel Redaniel, their son Dave Matthew and cousin Janelle, who were all in yellow, paid tribute.
Donabelle said: "We are fortunate to have known president Corazon Aquino on a personal level. My father [Mel Mamaril] worked as her presidential security aide since 1988 till the very end. She's been part of our family as she made it a point to know the families of those working for her. She was very simple, you would never think that she was president of the country. She had a very welcoming attitude, a smile on her face showing interest in what you have to say.
"All the major events in our lives, such as birthdays, graduation, wedding, she never failed to greet us or give gifts."
The last time Donabelle saw Aquino was on her wedding day.
"I cannot believe that she took time out from her busy schedule just to attend our wedding. I am honoured to be one of the very few who received a large painting that she made, as a wedding gift."
Their last conversation with her was when she gave them advice on marriage and family.
"Tita Cory knew that I was working in Dubai and was very interested about Filipinos working in the UAE. I recall her asking, 'How are the Filipinos in the UAE? It is a progressive country and many Filipinos are working there. I know it's hard to work and not be with your loved ones. I am very impressed with the country.'"
Donabelle said that as a Filipina Aquino's legacy is the "democracy that we are now enjoying and for uniting us to fight for what is right, not with guns but through prayer and peaceful means ... she has shown strength with grace through difficult times." Art Los Banos, a public relations consultant, said that Aquino symbolised peaceful change in times of political turmoil.
"It's very encouraging to all world leaders that everything is possible through peaceful resolution," he said.
Jennifer Gonzales, a development and community relations manager at a school, used to work as a senior media relations officer in Malacanang Palace, the presidential residence in Manila.
"It was a transition period during Tita Cory's time, and it was very hard to adjust from the Marcos era to the new freedom that we were experiencing that time. I arranged for foreign media interviews. She could handle rude and nasty questions and outsmart you with her wit, charm and intellect. She was very motherly, so you would enjoy being and working with her. I think we Filipinos can survive provided we carry the legacy that Tita Cory left us ... in our hearts," Gonzales added.
Did you attend the memorial? How was it? What do you think is the most important thing that Corazon Aquino has done for the Philippines?