UAE: Filipino expats remember former President Benigno Aquino

Dubai - Aquino served the Philippines as president from 2010 to 2016.

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James Jose

Published: Thu 24 Jun 2021, 10:37 PM

Last updated: Sat 26 Jun 2021, 12:43 PM

Filipino expats in the UAE joined their home country in remembering former President Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III, who passed away on Thursday. He was 61.

Aquino served the Philippines as president from 2010 to 2016.

The Philippine Ambassador to the UAE, Hjayceelyn M. Quintana, enjoined Filipinos to come together in prayer as the nation mourned the passing of its 15th president.

"As a grateful nation and people, we will remember President Aquino as a leader who did his utmost to serve the Filipinos and protect his country with dignity, honour, integrity, and above all, humility," Quintana said.

"He lived as a man for others. And borrowing from the words of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, 'his memory and his family's legacy of offering their lives for the cause of democracy will forever remain etched in our hearts'," she added.

Philippine Consul-General Paul Raymund Cortes described him as "a man who led the country and its people through many challenging moments of our history".

Recognising Aquino’s contributions to international relations, the Southeast Asian country’s foreign affairs department hailed how he “steered foreign policy towards a principled direction that earned international respect and esteem, and invigorated the foreign service with a collective sense of patriotism, commitment to service, and professionalism”.

“He has left a remarkable legacy on our country’s foreign policy and national history,” the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

Aquino was the son of two of the Philippines’ democracy icons. He rode a wave of public support to the presidency after the 2009 death of his mother, the revered ‘People Power’ leader Corazon Aquino, who was herself president from 1986 until 1992. His namesake father, a senator who staunchly opposed the rule of strongman Ferdinand Marcos, was assassinated when he returned home from political exile in 1983.

“Now that former President Noynoy Aquino joins his parents in heaven...his legacy will be concurrently judged, shaped by the divisiveness of his leadership, at least in the eyes of the public,” said Filipino expat Dr Rex Bacarra, academic head and director for administrative services at Southville, Ras Al Khaimah.

His greatest strength, Bacarra said, was his honesty. “I have friends in the media who would write speeches for him, and they would regale me with stories about his fantastic memory and how he abhorred corruption. The misfortune of his leadership is that he was not publicly viewed as such, saddled by the controversies of fund misuse that was not of his own making, but the vestiges of administrators whose lives were entrenched in corruption,” he added.

“For me and the people who know him, his heart is clean, and yet, I will always remember the public life he lived as a cautionary tale: That leadership is more than just good intentions and honest character.”

Filipina Via Imperial, who works as an HR administrator for a courier and logistics firm in Dubai, remembered Aquino as a “good president who tried his best”.

“He wasn’t the president that I voted for when he did his campaign but, of course, knowing his contribution, especially to the Philippine economy, we are still bearing that fruit. His legacy lives on and I have high respect for him and his family.”

The Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi has launched an online condolence book where expats can leave a message for the family of the late President Aquino.

(With inputs from Reuters)

People display a portrait of Philippine president Benigno Aquino near his residence in Manila. Photo: AFP
People display a portrait of Philippine president Benigno Aquino near his residence in Manila. Photo: AFP

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