Sri Chinmoy: it is extremely kind of you to have us here. I shall remain deeply grateful to you for your kindness. Yesterday I offered a Peace Concert here, and I was extremely happy and deeply honoured to dedicate it to you for your ceaseless and sleepless affection, love and concern for your country.
Mrs. Aquino: Thank you very much for a great honour. How many countries are represented here by your students?
Sri Chinmoy: Australia, America, Canada, Japan and Germany.
Mrs. Aquino: How big a membership do you have?
Sri Chinmoy: We have about 3,000.
Mrs. Aquino: Is there a Filipino representation?
Sri Chinmoy: We have about ten students here in Manila. In Cebu City we have about 20, and in Davao we also have a few.
Mrs. Aquino: I was in Davao myself this month, working to provide bridges between businessmen in Manila and businessmen in Davao. I think I cannot go back to a life of complete rest. I have not really known any period of complete relaxation since martial law.
Sri Chinmoy: I have composed a song in honour of you. It has come from the very depth of my aspiring heart. May my students sing the song for you?
Singers perform the song dedicated to Mrs. Aquino. >
Mrs. Aquino: Thank you very much.
Sri Chinmoy: I have also set tune to some of your words.
Mrs. Aquino: (Looking at a printed copy of the songs) This is from my speech to the U.S. Congress.
My policy has always been that we must attain peace through peaceful means. Only when we have exhausted all peaceful efforts should we use force. In our first encounter with the Communist dissidents, I offered them a ceasefire, and we did try talking with them. But then they still insisted on using violence. As President I could not allow that to continue. I offered them peace, but they rejected it. But then later on, I guess some of them tasted peace during the ceasefire and wanted more of it, so they did come to us and worked with us.
Sri Chinmoy: They realised their mistake.
Mrs. Aquino: The first time we initiated the ceasefire was around Christmas time. For the first time in probably 14 years they celebrated Christmas with their families. Certainly it was something they were not willing to give up again.
At first my critics said that they could not understand why I allowed the ceasefire. But this was my belief and in fact it was one of my campaign promises.
Sri Chinmoy: You said something most significant about your critics. Some of your critics accused you of being very weak and indecisive. You said that people also accused President Gorbachev of being weak.
Mrs. Aquino: Yes, I said I was in good company. When you have the responsibility for millions of people, in my case more than 60 million people, you cannot plunge into something simply because it will appear popular or it would enhance your credibility. When you feel responsible for the lives of so many, then you really have to study the situation very carefully. You cannot decide impulsively, because once you make a fatal decision, it is very difficult to get out of it.
I was more daring when I was not President because I felt that only I would be harmed because of my initiative. But when you become President, whatever action you take affects the populace. So you cannot be as daring or uncaring.
Sri Chinmoy: Before you became President, you were the sister of your country. Then you became the parent of your country — the mother. Once your people have known you and loved you as the mother of your country, they will always expect infinite motherly affection and compassion from you — even when you are no longer in office. And out of your heart's bounty you will always be willing to show your countrymen the affection and compassion of a real mother.
Singers perform the songs to Mrs. Aquino's words.
Mrs. Aquino: Thank you so much.
Sri Chinmoy presents a plaque to Mrs. Amino.
Mrs. Aquino: So many gifts! Thank you so much. I am so happy that we could see each other.