Philippine President Cory Aquino - Global Icon of Democracy
This is another heartbreaking news.
Former President Corazon Aquino died peacefully on August 1, 2009, Saturday, at 3:18 a. m. Manila time, after a 16-month battle against colon cancer. She was 76 years old. She died at the hospital where she had been admitted over a month ago. Shortly before her death, a private mass was held in her room. All of her five children were at her bedside till her last breath. She died of cardio-respiratory arrest, according to her son, Benigno Aquino Jr.
Known as Cory to millions of Filipinos, she was president from 1986 to 1992. She is remembered as the slim woman in yellow who led the “People Power” revolution that toppled dictator Ferdinand Marcos. (I was there in EDSA avenue way back in 1986.) This made her a global icon of democracy. The People Power ended when up to one million people waving rosaries and flowers stopped Marcos’ tanks from advancing toward Aquino-backed army rebels (led by Juan Ponce Enrile, Fidel V. Ramos, and Gregorio "Gringo" Honasan). It became a fairy-tale revolution that grabbed the world’s attention. The confused Marcos and his wife Imelda fled the nation setting a precedent everywhere from South Africa to South America to Pakistan. Cory was called a modern-day Joan of Arc.
Her politician husband Senator Benigno was assassinated at Manila's international airport in 1983 on his return from exile in the United States. Accusing Marcos of ordering the murder, Cory Aquino led protest marches. She was convinced to run for president under LABAN party during 1986 snap elections. Both candidates claimed victory in the election, but Marcos fled into exile when the army turned against him.
During Cory’s presidency, she preferred to be called Mrs. President instead of Madame President. She encountered seven coup attempts by the military. She was praised for her courage. Aside from army intervention, natural disasters, including Mount Pinatubo's huge volcanic eruption in 1991, severely battered the economy. A devout Catholic, she often turned to her faith to guide her through difficult times.
She endorsed Fidel V. Ramos in the next election and became her successor.
Cory whose full name is María Corazón Sumulong Cojuangco Aquino was born on January 25, 1933 into one of the Philippines’ richest families, the Cojuangcos. She was the daughter of a three-time congressman. She married Benigno, one of the country's most promising politicians, and they had four daughters and a son before he was thrown into prison by Marcos and then forced into exile.
She was involved in protests that brought an end to the presidency of former movie actor Joseph "Erap" Estrada in 2001, and has supported the campaign to oust current President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who was accused of corruption and election fraud.
Arroyo, who is in the United States on a visit, announced a 10-day period of national mourning and said in a message: "Today the Philippines lost a national treasure. She helped lead our nation to a brighter day."
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: "Like millions of people worldwide, Bill (former U.S. President Bill Clinton) and I were inspired by her quiet strength and her unshakable commitment to justice and freedom. We join the American and Filipino people in honoring her life and memory."
- 1st Filipina President and Asia's 1st Female President (1986)
- 1st Filipina President of the 5th Republic of the Philippines (1986)
- 1st Filipina and 1st Woman to receive the J. William Fullbright Prize for International Understanding (1996)
- 11th President of the Republic of the Philippines
- Time Magazine's Woman of the Year 1986
DATE OF BIRTH
January 25, 1933
FATHER: Don Jose Cojuangco
MOTHER: Doña Demetria Sumulong
HUSBAND: Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr.
CHILDREN: Benigno (Noynoy), Maria Elena, Aurora Corazon, Victoria Eliza, and Kristina Bernadette (Kris Aquino – TV Host / Actress)
Corazon Aquino grew up as the sixth of eight children in a family of wealthy landowners.
After attending exclusive grade schools, she went to the United States in 1946 to continue her secondary education at Ravenhill Academy in Philadelphia, Notre Dame convent school in New York, and the College of Mount St. Vincent in New York. In 1953, she earned a degree in French and mathematics. She returned to Manila to study law and met Benigno S. Aquino Jr., an aspiring politician whom she married in 1954.