“Lord, save your people.” This was the final prayer of Archbishop Socrates Villegas of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan at the end of the requiem mass for former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.
Aquino was buried Saturday, June 26, 2021, three days after his death last Thursday. The eulogies and homilies in his honor carried the theme of Aquino’s death being a reminder of the need for decent and honest leadership.
Archbishop Villegas said: “President Noy has joined the pantheon of the great and has entered into eternity. His sickness can no longer threaten, where fake news has no more place, and trolls are dead, where God’s commandments are no longer transgressed, and God’s name can no longer be blasphemed, where vulgarity, brutality, and terror is vanquished by compassion, where God and his love alone reign supreme — that is where we believe he has crossed over, into the new heavens and the new earth.”
“We who are left behind, sighing, mourning, and weeping in this valley of tears, must still toil under the heat of the sun. We still have to endure mediocrity and violence and vulgarity and treachery,” he added. He went on to implore the Lord to save His people.
Villegas also reiterated the call, aired by others who gave eulogies, for good people to become leaders in order for change to happen in the country. “When you are given the chance to serve, serve; a chance to lead, lead; a chance to soar high, soar high.”
Fr. Albert Alejo S.J. was more direct in his homily during the mass Friday night sponsored by members of Aquino’s Cabinet. He issued a plea for potential election candidates in 2022 to “do your share.” His homily carried a presentation of several slides that included a call for a new batch of good politicians.
Alejo said: “Today, we need a new batch of leaders, who would go into politics with integrity and competence. Filipinos who would reclaim politics as a lofty vocation, despite their own personal weaknesses, but would serve the country especially the marginalized. Filipinos who would build up institutions of justice and productivity, who would serve with the virtue of political love.” Fr. Alejo is identified with the political opposition as one of the convenors of the 1Sambayan coalition.
He also said Aquino’s leadership was like “what Pope Francis calls a better kind of politics.” He shared Pope Francis’s definition of “political love.” “While individuals can help others in need, when they join together initiating social processes of fraternity and justice for all, they enter the field of charity at its most vast, namely, political love.”
While these messages have taken a political context, these challenges are not for the opposition alone. These are for people who know and believe they can serve, lead and soar high. They may be election candidates, or they may be citizens who demand that their leaders be decent and honest.