Let me, first of all, say how deeply appreciative I am of this distinct honor my school is conferring upon me. If many years ago, while I was a student here, I had been told that I would be conferred this honor because of painful events which would become a very intimate part of my life, perhaps then I would have said: “Please! Forget the honor, but spare me the pain instead.” Now, however, after the painful events but even before the pain has disappeared, as I stand before you and reflect on the meaning of the honor you are conferring upon me, you give me courage to be able to say: “If I had to go through it all again, I would do it again.” It is good to know that the school to which I owe much of what I have been able to make of myself stands by me even up to this day. With all my heart, therefore, I say: Thank you.
Even as I receive the honor, however, I am also aware that I am here because of what my husband Ninoy was and because of the symbol he has become for my people in their hour of trial and darkness. I need not explain to you how much I owe him. We were together through it all and I could not have sustained the burden and the pain had he not stood by me even when he himself was physically far away and needed support the most. However, this afternoon, I can almost hear him say:
“This is your day, Cory. Do not let me detract from the honor they are giving you. Do not speak about me.” I can say to him that this afternoon, gladly, I will play the obedient wife. I shall not speak about him. I cannot, however, say that I can as it were turn his voice off. For I can also hear him say to me with pride: “Cory, tell them what sustained us through it all.” In a very few words, therefore, let me try to do just that—tell you what has sustained us all these years.
This afternoon you honor me for what the citation describes as “faith and courage”. Allow me to say that the honor is more accurately for courage that is founded on Faith.
I like to think of courage as a spiritual staying power which enables a person to die for the one he or she loves. It is a quality which transcends fear. But it is not simply a patience which passively suffers until the storm is past. Rather, it is a spirit which bears things, with resignation yes, but above all with blazing and serene hope. And for me this blazing and serene hope is founded on Faith, faith in One who died for love and rose again and who has always been a part of my life.
This afternoon you honor me for courage that is accompanied by hope and founded on Faith. In all humility, I accept the honor. Let me say, however, that I cannot accept the honor for myself alone; nor even for Ninoy alone. For, in honoring me thus you honor my people. I am but a daughter of my people. My husband Ninoy was a son of my people. We are what we have been able to become because we were nurtured in a Faith that begets courage blazing with hope among a people so often tested by tribulation. And how often have I seen courage and hope blazing out of the Faith of my people especially in our darkest hours. This afternoon, therefore, even as I accept this honor, I think of my people struggling once again with courage and blazing hope in their hour of tribulation. With pride I can report to you that courage and faith once again shone luminously among my oppressed people in the just concluded elections for our National Assembly. And I pray that the Faith which sustained me and Ninoy will continue to sustain my people until the day of our redemption. I will ask you to join me in my prayer.