(above image) my caricature of Cory published in Sandigan (Filipino-Australian) newspaper, May 1988.
Today Filipinos are crying yellow as they grieve for the demise of the Philippines' 11th president. Cory Aquino aka Mrs. President died today, August 1, 2009; the first female president of the Philippines and Asia's first female president.
Yellow was her preferred color even before she was installed as president, people inspired by a popular American song Tie a Yellow Ribbon which they sang and did to welcome her husband Benigno Aquino at the Manila Airport.
Alas, poor Ninoy never made it to the streets of Manila after years of exile in America, for he was horribly gunned down at the airport's tarmac. Until now, the mastermind has not been brought to justice.
(above photo: Rod Samonte, Banggaan Art Group)
His death choked like yellow mustard gas and gripped tight the airpipes of a people already gasping for the life-giving breath of democracy; and the welcoming yellow ribbon tied loosely around every freedom-loving Filipino became a tight noose when it was abruptly stained thick by blood. It caked dry and strained the elasticity of the constricted veins of a nation forsaken. The pressure was too much and the patience exploded thus the EDSA revolution, now known around the world as People Power.People Power Monument, Philippines (web image)
Yellow then became flavor of the reclaimed democracy, wrested away by the people from the militaristic regime .
(above image: People Power, South Africa)
Overnight the connotation of the word as cowardice vanished; suddenly the jaundiced masses that wallowed in poverty for years under an oppressive dictatorship took a healthier color..
(above image: People Power, Thailand)
..and the battle for freedom began and still unfinished today.
The rest of the world afterall has plenty of time to catch up; for freedom will never be served on a yellow, picnic platter.(above image) my illustration for The Australian, Aug. 21, 1986
Today August 1st is also President Manuel Quezon's death anniversary. He died of tuberculosis in 1944 in Saranac Lake, New York.
Today Cory Aquino chose to leave Earth to join the late husband she sorely missed.
Today is also death anniversary of my father Manuel who passed away in 1998.
Today is also the birthday of my youngest son who was born in 1994.
August 1st indeed is always a cocktail of emotions for this writer.
Here Dad, wherever you are, I'd like to show you the palette of bright colors in my heart. You were part of it.
The yellow seeds you've planted in my consciousness are fast yellowing ripe, keeping abreast of my age. I've acknowledged long ago that Life is a painting, and it was really up to me to use dull or bright colors, warm or cool, or just plain black and white. Thank you for the yellow warning light you shone on me everytime I was about to go astray.
Life, I found out is just too short for us to be able to use all the colors in the rainbow. The trick I thought was to use one, or two, or..okay.. three, but not more. One color for the mind, another for the body and one for the spirit.Then I mix them all up to a dark mass and use it as black for the linear elements to draw Life's pattern which I then fill in with hues of all gradations, one color dominant over the rest. My Life's painting has been in process for the past 6 decades, when to put the last brush stroke of Yellow is a mystery I'm not yet keen to find out.
Perhaps, an individual is like a nation that carefully chooses the colors in its flag. For outsiders, the color symbolism may not be big deal; but for those born and educated inside the archipelago, the idealism was inspired by heavenly bodies.
Today the yellow sun burns brightly in the middle of the stellar-cornered, white pyramid of the nation's flag, aloft halfway to its mast, with its blue and red wings drenched by Manila rain, heavy and in sorrow for the demise of the leader of the People Power revolt.
As someone said, at times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us. I thank Cory. I thank my Dad.
Nature and human nature is one and the same afterall. Nature nurtures. Nature is us. The color of yellow could be as fragrant as a free spirit, sweet like Guimaras mangoes or as obnoxious as yellow sulphur. We have the choice, nature could only provide and guide us towards a healthy mind and being. Man shall forever avoid the toxicity of nature that can harm him. Likewise to live in a society free of toxic political decadence is delicious and much desired.
But in its vexillology and all, the nation's flag could not all be yellow yet (even if emotions relentlessly pour out for Cory); not just yet for it will still be undeserving. A solid yellow flag shall only mean one thing ..clean; just like the international maritime signal flag where a solidly yellow flag denotes the letter "Q" (which means a ship asserts that it does not need to be quarantined).
(web image: Yellow Flag Iris)
The nation still has a lot to do to isolate the yellow fever of corruption and greed that incapacitated and drained the country's fragile economy. Until then shall yellow flags bloom and blanket the nation in blissful peace. Only then shall we see everything in glorious yellow; and we shall experience delirious fun, almost like being inside a yellow submarine, or even other modes of transport.
(above photo) web image
At the beginning of our lives, there were no colors for at least nine months as we only felt the warm, liquid darkness of primeval innocence, ignorant of colors and was delightfully swimming in it.
It was like awareness trapped inside a coconut, surrounded and protected by the pureness of its thick meat of inner white walls yet it seemed darkness had to obliterate the light to let knowledge evolve inside without getting burnt to a crisp. Something inside seemed restless and waiting for a time when someone gives it a precise, clean stroke of a machete to expose the nourishing Grace.
Upon rupture, it was rapture. Perhaps the color yellow was introduced to my infantile life when I first saw the yellow incandescent light; as the nurse pulled away my yellowcaked diaper; or was impressed on me as I blasted a pressurised stream of yellow to the faces of those I've fancied. Why, according to my mother, even my big, grotesque head that had sparse, velvety black hair was covered with a thin layer of icky, yellow slime. Yellow, yellow all around me so therefore I naturally gravitated to my favourite color... Blue.
You'd think I'm kidding. Blue afterall is not too far away from Yellow. Well in printer's ink term, process yellow was based on a colorant that reflects the preponderance of red and green light, and absorbed most blue light. Painters meanwhile traditionally regarded the complement of yellow as blue (or indigo) because of various characteristics of paint pigments and different color wheels used.
How many of us know that the word yellow comes from the Old English geolu (or geolwe which derived from the Proto-Germanic word gelwaz)? The color had a long history and nations have long adopted the solar hue in their own right. Some might have offensive and non-offensive racial overtones. What with an East Asian born in outback Australia? Shall we call him a yellow ocker? Do you see any peril? What if he's of Italian lineage..Naples yellow? There's Indian yellow, Chinese yellow (arsenic trisulfide) and there's Gamboge yellow, the name derived from Cambodia. And now we have the Philippine yellow, and the whole world knows of its meaning.
Rest in Peace, Cory...and Dad.
Here are three timely videos:
-Part 1 of Cory Aquino's historic speech before the US Congress (Sept. 1986)
-Bayan Ko featuring the images of Fernando Amorsolo and the voice of Kuh Ledesma
-Heber Bartolome and Banyuhay (Katotohanan Lamang), Tribute to Cory