Filipinos pay final respects to ex-President Noynoy Aquino

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 25)— Hundreds of Filipinos lined up Friday to pay their final respects to the late former President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III.

They trooped to Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City for the public viewing of Aquino's urn, scheduled from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Supporters wanted to say their farewell and offer their prayers to the former chief executive who passed away on Thursday at age 61 due to health problems.

His wake was held at the Church of the Gesù, where COVID-19 health protocols were strictly observed — with only a maximum of 140 people allowed to stay inside.

Aquino was a product of Ateneo Grade School 1973, Ateneo High School 1977, and Ateneo College 1981.

Aside from family members, a number of personalities including Vice President Leni Robredo, Manila Archbishop Jose Cardinal Advincula, and Papal Nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown attended the wake.

A prayer vigil was held in the afternoon, followed by masses at 5 and 8 p.m.

Singers Jaya and Moira Dela Torre also graced the church service and offered song tributes for the former leader.

Meanwhile, the military fired gun salutes across the country throughout the day to mark the former commander-in-chief's death.

Remebering 'Kuya Noy'

Speaking to CNN Philippines' The Final Word, former Senator Bam Aquino shared his memories with his late cousin. He described the late president as someone with very simple tastes, as someone who really loves to talk, and loves music.

"He's always very generous with advice... Kapag nagsimula na iyang magkwento buong araw na iyan (One he starts talking that will be for a whole day). He'd talk about history, geopolitics, he'd talk about so many things," Bam said.

As a leader, Bam said the former chief executive was the best example for all of them who worked under his administration. He also highlighted how Noynoy was committed to his social contract with the people that covered many sectors like fighting poverty and corruption, infrastructure, and education.

"He was an example for all of us...every time he said these things, we took it to heart, and we felt that he was the best example," Bam said.

As the day the former president is laid to rest nears, Bam said he hopes people will remember his "Kuya Noy" as someone who was an honest leader, as someone who gave everything to serve the country.

"I hope these following days would be days that people get to know him a little better and get to appreciate the kind of leader that he was," Bam said.

Another mass also at the Church of the Gesù is scheduled Saturday morning. The nation's 15th president will then be laid to rest at Manila Memorial Park beside his parents, former president Corazon Aquino and assassinated opposition senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr., both hailed globally as democracy icons. A 21-gun or -cannon salute will also be carried out during the funeral.

CNN Philippines correspondents Melissa Lopez and David Santos contributed to this report.