In My Own Words - Ron Centeno

a collection of thoughts and sentiments...in my own words

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8/03/2009

The Day I Shook Cory's Hand

Written by Ron Centeno

During the early years of her presidency, I met Cory Aquino at Malacanang Palace through Fr. Catalino Arevalo, S. J. , the president’s spiritual adviser and a personal friend of mine. Yes, the same Fr. Arevalo as earlier mentioned by Kris Aquino during her Sunday’s one-on-one interview with Boy Abunda, as the Jesuit priest summoned by the Aquino family to say the Mass immediately after Cory passed away at 3:18 a.m. on Saturday.

Fr. Arevalo, asked me to do a charcoal portrait of the Shroud of Turin that would be displayed at the Malacanang chapel during one of those Holy Weeks when Mrs. Aquino was then the sitting president. “Are you sure you want me to do it?”, I asked him inquisitively. “I’ve seen some of your works and I’m sure you can very well do the same thing with this”, he said, as he showed me a small picture frame of the shroud atop his desk. Portraiting (if there is such a word) has never been my profession. I have never attended an art school, only a raw talent that must have been handed to me by my father, who analogously, never went to art school nor a professional artist, but equally equipped with a mere raw talent. (If you want to see a sample of my raw work on Barack Obama’s, pls. go to my Facebook account. Unfortunately, my charcoal portrait of the Shroud of Turin has been missing for years now). At any rate, I heeded Fr. Arevalo’s request with contrasting alacrity and jittery.

The painting was the size of the whole cartolina done in a charcoal board paper. For weeks, I labored on the portrait in the hope that it would befit its intended purpose during the holy celebration.

A week after, I went to see Fr. Arevalo at the Loyola House of Studies and brought him the charcoal painting framed with aluminum panel with matching glass cover. He was quite delighted. The next day, I received a call from Fr. Arevalo asking me to come with him to Malacanang on that Holy Friday for the Mass he was tasked to celebrate. I said yes even before he would have finished telling me. “Very well, then”, he said. “Please be here at 7:00 o’clock in the morning. The Mass starts at 9:00”, he added. “I sure will, father”, I said.

I had never been to Malacanang before and the thought of going inside the palace was an absolute dream I have long wished for. With Cory Aquino as the residing president is all the more preposterous, to say the least.

Fr. Arevalo and I reached Malacanang on time. As soon as we were ushered into the chapel, I was struck by the conspicuous location of the charcoal painting I did for that purpose. It was mounted on an easel in front of the altar directly facing Mrs. Aquino and her cabinet members along with their families. I was dumbfounded. It was then that I truly appreciated my God-given raw talent that would require no less than the devout president to make that possible.

After the Mass, Fr. Arevalo wasted no time in figuring out how he would introduce me to Mrs. Aquino who was graciously attending to all those present on that very Holy Friday. When the moment finally came, I was literally shaking when Mrs. Aquino offered her hand to shake mine. “I’m glad you’d able to come. You did a good job with the Shroud”, she said. I was tongue-tied. At that instance, her official photographer motioned me to stand next to the president with the Shroud being the backdrop. At the count of three, he snapped his camera for posterity.

12 Your Thoughts/Comments Here::

Mokong™ said...

buti ka pa tol..nakita mo sya at nakamayan... ako hanggang tv lang...

Hanggang ngayon nalulungkot pa din ako sa pagkawala niya... para akong nawala ng mahal sa buhay!

Dencio said...

Wow tol wala ak0ng masabi... Hanep.. Buti kapa.. Hehe..

Badong said...

oo nga pareho kami ni Moks. para akong nawalan ng mahal sa buhay. and it's not because sine-sensationalize yung storya, pero iba talaga e.

I am Xprosaic said...

Wow! ang swerte mo naman... I could not imagine myself having that kind of opportunity with anyone so popular... not in my current lifetime... jejejejjejeje... Good for you!

David Funk said...

That is something one can always cherish when meeting a person of that caliber! Wow! That's impressive that you were fortunate to shake the hand of Cory Aquino!

Thanks for sharing the info here, too!

Ron Centeno said...

To all!

Cory was no ordinary leader, indeed! I simply coudn't find any more superlatives to describe how incredible this human being is. If there was George Washington the Americans would infinitely remember, or Ghandi the Indians would forever treasure, the Filipinos are blessed to have Cory Aquino left a legacy that was meant to inspire our future generation to come.

Chronicler said...

Cmon Ron, where is that picture. Sana napost mo rin dito. I was having goosbumps reading this. It was a day you'll never forget. Sana napreserve din yung charcoal portrait ng Shroud.

Anonymous said...

Just like you, i also met Tita Cory through Fr. Arevalo.

andiy
west hempstead, ny

Ron Centeno said...

Hi Chronicler!

Ang isa sa pinaka malaking pagsisisi ko ay nong naiwan ko yong Shroud at picture namin ni Pang. Cory at Fr. Arevalo ng umalis ako ng Pilipinas patungong America 14 years ago. Just the same, if you have any doubts to my claim, I'm sure Fr. Arevalo would be the best person to prove it. Fr. Arevalo can be reached at the Loyola House of Studies at the Ateneo de Manila, in Katipunan. I met Fr. Arevalo again when I paid him a visit two years ago. A devout and a brilliant man rolled into one. He's Tita Cory's biggest supporter and admirer.

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