MANILA, Philippines -- East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta said today (Aug.5) he admires the Filipinos' resiliency in the face of adversity.
"Filipinos have always smiled and hoped. They are very resilient," said Ramos-Horta when he arrived this afternoon at the Manila Memorial Park in Paranaque City to pay his last respects to former President Corazon Aquino.
Ramos-Horta also underscored the importance of the Edsa People Power Revolution, which ousted the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos in 1986. The peaceful uprising was spearheaded by the church, civil society groups, the then political opposition headed by Mrs. Aquino and ordinary citizens.
"This was the first democratic movement in Southeast Asia," he said, noting that many Filipino priests and nuns are working as missionaries in East Timor, which has also experienced several political upheavals in the past.
Ramos-Horta said he wants to pay homage to Mrs. Aquino whom he last met in August 2008 for her contributions to empowering the Filipino people and for her role an "icon of democracy."
Though not a state funeral, today's farewell for Mrs. Aquino was well attended by tens of thousands of mourners who braved the rains and traffic. Ramos-Horta said he made the decision to attend the last rites for Mrs. Aquino since he was a journalist in East Timor before he became the head of state.
He also disclosed that there is no scheduled meeting with President Arroyo after the burial for Mrs. Aquino.
Ramos-Horta and his entourage arrived in Manila at around 4 a.m. today. He will fly back to East Timor tomorrow