She was widow of assassinated oppositionist leader Benigno S. Aquino, was catapulted to the presidency through people power.
The toppling of the 20-year old Marcos dictatorship was made possible by the coalition of people of all ages and from all walks of life who in peace and prayer rallied behind the military reformist. Corazon Aquino became eleventh and first woman president of the Philippines.
She was born in Manila on January 25, 1933, Mrs. Aquino is the embodiment of the Filipino elite. Daughter of landed aristocracy, Don Jose Cojuangco of Tarlac, and Dona Demetria Sumulong of Antipolo and of old political families, convent-bred, US educated, then married to another member of her class, her background is impeccable. She is a true lady, religious, family-centered, conservative. Her chosen fields of study were French and Mathematics. Thus, she could only be called lovingly Tita Cory by her doting admirers.
When Marcos called for “snap” elections to prove that he still had popular support, the people, in great joy and relief finally got their act together. The opportunity to oust Marcos through peaceful, parliamentary means was to precious to ignore.
The people united under one candidate, Corazon Aquinio, wife of the murdered patriot Benigno Aquino. Knowing that Marcos would try everything to stat in power, all forms of people power were made use of. From the gathering of one million signatures to draft Cory Aquino to human barricades that stopped Marcos’ tanks in the streets of Manila, it was an unprecedented phenomenon of the people working together for the return of democracy.
While Marcos campaigned for Marcos, the people campaigned for Cory. Rich matrons became Cory’s indefatigable crusaders. Executives formed the Cory Aquino for President Movement, with chapters all over the country. Students, housewives, office workers, professionals, nuns, priests, doctors, seminarians, nurses, they marched through the streets rooting for Cory.
Hundred of thousands met at Rizal Park to support Cory Aquino’s call for peaceful protest, beginning with a boycott of crony firms and escalating into a civil disobedience campaign.
The People Power Started
His eminence Cardinal Jaime Sin broadcast an appeal to help “our two friends”. A handful of officers and men took refuge at Camp Aguinaldo. They had recognized Cory Aquino’s victory and had withdrawn support from Marcos.
Over the week-end people power poured to EDSA, from Manila, Quezon City, Alabang, Paranaque, from villages, rich people, poor people, middle-class, in their jogging outfits and Cory-T shirts. They brought sandwiches, chairs, umbrellas, cameras, coffee in thermos bottles.
And when the tanks rumbled in and troops were poised to attack, they stood firm, held up rosaries and images of Mary, pleaded with the amazed soldiers, offered them flowers and food, until at last they withdrew to tears, cheers, hugs, and handshakes.
Corazon Aquino was inducted into office at Club Filipino as the first lady of the President of the Philippines on February 25, 1986, the last day of the people’s revolution. Salvador Laurel took his oath of office as vice-president.
In her inaugural address, she thanked the people and the military forces who hand-in-hand fought for freedom from the dictatorship. She enjoined the people to work for national reconciliation and to unite in rebuilding the country.
The Aquino government was quite different from other leaderships. Corazon Aquino was not a traditional politician. She inspired hope among Filipinos because she came to power without seeking it.
She was empowered by the direct acts of the people who campaigned and voted for her, and defended her victory with their lives. Although she belonged to the privileged class, she was not immune to the hardship caused by the Marcos regime. Her deep personal sufferings bound her forever to all of its victims.
Political prisoners were released and investigation of human rights violations began. The restoration of democracy was started immediately. The doors of Malacanang were opened to the public, and the people saw how the Marcos family had lived there in luxury while the people outside hungered and lived in misery.
It was also discovered, and according to US investigators, Marcos and Imelda had robbed their country billions of dollars, which they hid away in foreign banks, real estate and property.
President Corazon Aquino on the other hand, was continuing to capture the adulation and affection, not only of Filipinos, but the whole world. The Filipino’s faith in himself and the nation had been restored.
|< Prev||Next >|