Apr 20
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The life story of Cory Quirino

Author: The Philippine Star

( Second of two parts ) Even before she displayed such admirable bravery and courage in the hands of her abductors almost eight years ago, I’ve already had so much respect for Cory Quirino.

Although I didn’t know her personally then, I knew (word gets around fast in this circle) that she always worked hard at her career (she got into so many fields) and was forever striving for excellence.

Actually, Cory Quirino didn’t have to work so hard, having descended from the very affluent Syquia and Quirino families. And she had always been very lucky – luckier even than the generations before her.

As I said last Tuesday, while her paternal grandmother (Alicia Syquia), uncle and two aunts perished in that Arlegui massacre in the last days of the Liberation, Cory survived what could have been sure death in the hands of her abductors when she was kidnapped in 1995.

Even in birth, she was lucky. While her grandfather, the late President Elpidio Quirino, was born inside a jailhouse in Vigan, Ilocos Sur (his father was a jail warden), Cory had the rare privilege of being born in Malacañang – when her lolo was President.

After her grandfather’s term as President, Cory’s branch of the family (headed by her father, Tomas) moved to a house in 12th Street off Balete Drive in Quezon City, while her lolo occupied the Quirino summer home in Novaliches, where he eventually died in 1955.

In the case of Cory, she still saw the Palace every day because she attended elementary classes at the then College of the Holy Ghost (now Holy Spirit), which to this day still has its grounds in the shadows of Malacañang.

When she was in Grade 7, she had to be moved to Assumption because her family had already transferred by this time to Urdaneta Village in Makati.

Even if her family moved from one posh subdivision to another, Cory insists that they still basically observed a frugal way of life (they’re Ilocanos – remember?) And as early as 12 years old, she was already put in charge of the house and her six siblings she’s the third child) whenever her parents had to leave for abroad. "I was Manang to everyone," volunteers Cory.

In college, Cory spent a few years in Maryknoll taking AB classes before she was sent to Spain to finish her degree in Fine Arts.

For her first job, Cory decided to pursue a career in advertising and applied at the Philippine Advertising Counselors – specificallly in the art department. When she took the exam, however, her command and usage of the English language impressed the people in the personnel so much it was decided she would be better off working as a public relations assistant.

From the Philippine Advertising Counselors, she moved to Hyatt to work as sales representative and, later, at 3M Philippines where she was made to conduct training programs as part of her job in the human resources department.

For a while, she also worked with Bancom, where she had to learn practically on the spot the ways of the Philippine economy (which wasn’t as bad as it is now). Eventually, she found her way back to Hyatt where – at triple the salary – where she was made sales manager and, later, head of the public relations department. She spent nine years of her life there. In between, she got married, but eventuallly got separated and is now raising a wonderful daughter named Tamila, now 22 years and a graduate of Interior Design from Assumption.

In the late ‘80s, Johnny Litton asked her to host a segment for the now defunct Oh No, It’s Johnny! Having found television work to her liking, she later pursued a career as a newscaster for Channel 13. Then, while attending the press launch for the crime-busting show, Hotline sa Trese, Joseph Estrada (then a senator) announced to everyone that she was co-hosting the show with him – without even askking her if she wanted the job. She was eventually pleased with this surprise pulled on her by Erap for she eventually enjoyed her stint in the public service program. Hotline sa Trese, however, had to go when Estrada became vice-president.

In 1994, Cory moved back to ABS-CBN – this time with her own life style show callled Citilite, which aired evenings Saturday. It was while shooting on location for this show that the kidnapping happened – on the evening of Sept. 23, 1995.

I will not go into the details of the kidnapping anymore because she has already turned the whole account into a book called Waiting for the Light (it’s so interesting, I finished it in one sitting) – aside from the fact that it is the subject of Carlo J. Caparas’ comeback vehicle, NBI Files: The Cory Quirino Kidnap Case (The Power of Prayers). Golden Lions’ producer Donna Villa, however, swears that there are numerous details in the movie pertaining to the kidnapping not mentioned in the book. The question of whether Cory was molested, for instance, will be answered in the film version.

Actually, there were two opportunities for her kidnapping case to have been translated onto the screen in the past. Vic del Rosario, for one, was really bent on turning it into a TV-movie (with Dina Bonnevie playing Cory), except that he got so busy with Viva-TV. And then, there was also this other version with Dawn Zulueta in the role of Cory, which didn’t take off either.

Cory Quirino, however, couldn’t be happier with the final outcome of the film NBI Files; The Cory Quirino Kidnap Case (The Power of Prayers) under the direction of Carlo J. Caparas because it is bound to propagate prayers once it is shown publicly. Of course, the film is not a boring religious movie, but Cory claims it stresses the miracles in our lives – as shown by her own personal experience during that very trying moment in her life. "The authorities were shocked that I survived. And they were happy that with the arrest of the leader of the group that kidnapped me, they were able to get the second most wanted man in the Southern Tagalog region," reveals Cory. "Yes, the whole thing was a miracle. In fact, I wanted the movie to be called Himala, except that the title already belongs to Nora (Aunor). "

All throughout her ordeal, Cory uttered this one very powerful prayer: Blood of Christ, cover me and deliver me from danger.

Thanks to her answered prayer, Cory Quirino was, indeed, delivered from danger (no doubt by the blood of Jesus) and is now alive to tell her story and the truth about that darkest chapter of her otherwise charmed life.

Source: The Philippine Star