|11th President of the Philippines|
February 25, 1986 – June 30, 1992
|Prime Minister||Salvador Laurel|
|Vice President||Salvador Laurel|
|Preceded by||Ferdinand Marcos|
|Succeeded by||Fidel V. Ramos|
Maria Corazon Sumulong Cojuangco
January 25, 1933
Manila, Philippine Islands
August 1, 2009
Makati City, Philippines
Liberal (Before 1982)
|Spouse(s)||Benigno Aquino, Jr. (1954-1983)|
College of Mount Saint Vincent
Far Eastern University
This article is part of a series about
Corazon C. Aquino
President of the Philippines
Maria Corazon "Cory" Aquino y Cojuangco y Sumulong (January 25, 1933 – August 1, 2009), a Filipino politician who served as the 11th President of the Philippines, was the first woman to hold that office and the first female president in Asia. Aquino was the most prominent figure of the 1986 People Power Revolution, which toppled the 20-year authoritarian rule of President Ferdinand E. Marcos and restored democracy to the Philippines. She was named Time magazine's "Woman of the Year" in 1986. Prior to this, she had not held any other elective office.
A self-proclaimed "plain housewife", she was married to Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr., the staunchest critic of President Marcos. She emerged as leader of the opposition after her husband was assassinated on August 21, 1983 upon returning to the Philippines from exile in the United States. In late 1985, Marcos called for snap elections, and Aquino ran for president with former senator Salvador Laurel as her Vice-President. After the elections were held on February 7, 1986, the Batasang Pambansa proclaimed Marcos and his running mate, Arturo Tolentino, as the winners amidst allegations of electoral fraud, with Aquino calling for massive civil disobedience actions. Defections from the Armed Forces and the support of the local Catholic hierarchy led to the People Power Revolution that ousted Marcos and secured Aquino's accession on February 25, 1986.
As President, Aquino oversaw the promulgation of the 1987 Constitution, which limited the powers of the Presidency and re-established the bicameral Congress. Her administration gave strong emphasis and concern for civil liberties and human rights, and on peace talks to resolve the ongoing Communist insurgency and Islamist secession movements. Her economic policies centred on restoring economic health and confidence and focused on creating a market-oriented and socially responsible economy.
Aquino faced several coup attempts against her government and various natural calamities until the end of her term in 1992. She was succeeded as President by Fidel V. Ramos, and returned to civilian life while remaining public about her opinions on political issues.
In 2008, Aquino was diagnosed with colon cancer from which she died on August 1, 2009. She was survived by her son, Benigno Aquino III, who has been President of the Philippines since June 30, 2010. Throughout her life, Aquino was known to be a devout Roman Catholic, and was fluent in French and English aside from her native Tagalog and Kapampangan.
- Personal life 1
1986 Presidential campaign 2
- Accession as President 2.1
- Constitutional and political reforms 3.1
- Ministerial Cabinet (1986-1987) 3.2
- Cabinet (1987-1992) 3.3
Socio-economic programs and policies 3.4
- Economic management 3.4.1
- Agrarian reform 3.4.2
- Natural disasters and calamities 3.5
- Electrical power grid inadequacy 3.6
- Influence in 1992 presidential campaign 3.7
Post-presidency and continued political activism 4
Activities and drives 4.1
- Political causes 4.1.1
- International engagements 4.1.2
- Charitable and social initiatives 4.1.3
- Activities and drives 4.1
Illness and death 5
- Wake and funeral 5.1
- Local reaction 5.2.1
- International reaction 5.2.2
- Honors 6
- In popular culture 7
- Legacy 8
- Awards and achievements 9
- Honorary doctorates 10
- Foreign Orders 11
- Ancestry 12
- References 13
- Literature 14
- External links 15
Born at 9:45 PM on January 25, 1933, at San Juan de Dios Hospital in Intramuros, Manila, Maria Corazon "Cory" Sumulong Cojuangco was the fourth child of Jose Cojuangco y Chichioco, Sr. and Demetria Sumulong y Sumulong. Her siblings were Pedro, Josephine, Teresita, Jose, Jr. and Maria Paz. Both Aquino's parents came from prominent clans. Her father was a prominent Tarlac businessman and politician, and her great-grandfather, Melecio Cojuangco, was a member of the historic Malolos Congress. Her mother, Demetria, belonged to the Sumulong family of Rizal who were also politically influential; Juan Sumulong, a prominent member of the clan, ran against Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon in 1941.
As a young girl, Aquino spent her elementary days at St. Scholastica's College in Manila, where she graduated on top of her class and batch as valedictorian. For high school, she transferred to Assumption Convent for her first year of high school. Afterwards, she went to the United States, the Assumption-run Ravenhill Academy Philadelphia. The next year Cory transferred to and graduated from Notre Dame Convent School in New York City. There she continued her college education in the US. She went on to the College of Mount Saint Vincent in New York City, where she majored in Mathematics and French. During her stay in the United States, Aquino volunteered for the campaign of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Thomas Dewey against then Democratic U.S. President Harry S. Truman during the 1948 U.S. Presidential Election.
After graduating from college, she returned to the Philippines to study law at the Far Eastern University (owned by the in-laws of her elder sister, Josephine Reyes) for one year. She married Sen. Benigno S. Aquino, Jr., son of the late Speaker Benigno S. Aquino, Sr. and a grandson of General Servillano Aquino. The couple had five children: Maria Elena (born August 18, 1955), Aurora Corazon (born December 27, 1957), Benigno Simeon III (born February 8, 1960), Victoria Elisa (born October 27, 1961) and Kristina Bernadette (born February 14, 1971).
Corazon Aquino had difficulty initially adjusting to provincial life when she and her husband moved to Concepcion, Tarlac in 1955. Aquino found herself bored in Concepcion, and welcomed the opportunity to have dinner with her husband inside the American military facility at nearby Clark Field.
A member of the Liberal Party, Aquino's husband Ninoy rose to become the youngest governor in the country and eventually became the youngest senator ever elected to the Senate of the Philippines in 1967. During her husband's political career, Aquino remained a housewife who helped raise their children and played hostess to her spouse's political allies who would frequent their Quezon City home. She would decline to join her husband on stage during campaign rallies, preferring instead to stand at the back of the audience and listen to him.
Unknown to many, she voluntarily sold some of her prized inheritance to fund the candidacy of her husband. She led a modest existence in a bungalow in suburban Quezon City. Ninoy Aquino soon emerged as a leading critic of the government of President Ferdinand Marcos. He was then touted as a strong candidate for president to succeed Marcos in the 1973 elections. However, Marcos, being barred by the Constitution to seek a third term, declared martial law on September 21, 1972, and later abolished the existing 1935 Constitution, thereby allowing him to remain in office. As a consequence, her husband was among those to be first arrested at the onset of martial law, later being sentenced to death. During his incarceration, Ninoy sought strength from prayer, attending daily Mass and saying the rosary three times a day. As a measure of sacrifice and solidarity with her husband and all other political prisoners, she enjoined her children from attending parties and she also stopped going to the beauty salon or buying new clothes until a priest advised her and her children to instead live as normal lives as possible.
In 1978, despite her initial opposition, Ninoy decided to run in the 1978 Batasang Pambansa elections. A reluctant speaker, Corazon Aquino campaigned in behalf of her husband, and for the first time in her life delivered a political speech. In 1980, upon the intervention of U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Marcos allowed Senator Aquino and his family to leave for exile in the United States, where he sought medical treatment. The family settled in Boston, and Aquino would later call the next three years as the happiest days of her marriage and family life. On August 21, 1983, however, Ninoy ended his stay in the United States and returned without his family to the Philippines, only to be assassinated on a staircase leading to the tarmac of the Manila International Airport, which was later renamed in his honor (see Assassination of Benigno Aquino, Jr.). Corazon Aquino returned to the Philippines a few days later and led her husband's funeral procession, in which more than two million people participated.
1986 Presidential campaign
Following her husband's assassination in 1983, Aquino became active and visible in various demonstrations and protests held against the Marcos regime. She began to assume the mantle of leadership left by her husband Ninoy and started to become the symbolic figurehead of the anti-Marcos political opposition. In the last week of November 1985, Marcos surprised the nation by announcing on American television that he would hold a snap presidential election in February 1986, in order to dispel and remove doubts against his regime's legitimacy and authority.
Reluctant at first, Aquino was eventually prevailed upon to heed the people's clamor, after one million signatures urging her to run for president were presented to her. Despite this, the erstwhile favorite opposition candidate, Laurel, did not immediately give way to his close friend's widow. Laurel was only convinced to run as Aquino's communists and agreed to share power with them once elected into power. A political novice, Aquino categorically denied Marcos' charge and even stated that she would not appoint a single communist to her cabinet. Running on the offensive, the ailing Marcos also accused Aquino of playing "political football" with the United States with respect to the continued United States military presence in the Philippines at Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Base. Further, the male strongman derided Aquino's womanhood, by saying that she was "just a woman" whose place was in the bedroom. In response to her opponent's sexist remark, and in reference to the fact that the ailing and feeble Marcos was increasingly seen as being largely a front man for his wife Imelda, Aquino simply remarked that "may the better woman win in this election". Marcos also attacked Aquino's inexperience and warned the country that it would be a disaster if a woman like her with no previous political experience was tb be elected president, to which Aquino cleverly and sarcastically responded, admitting that she had "no experience in cheating, lying to the public, stealing government money, and killing political opponents".
The snap election called by Marcos which was held on February 7, 1986, was marred by massive electoral fraud, violence, intimidation, coercion and disenfranchisement of voters. Election Day proved to be bloody as one of Aquino's staunchest allies, former Antique province Governor Evelio Javier, was brutally murdered, allegedly by some of Marcos' supporters in his province. Further, during the counting and tallying of votes conducted by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), 30 poll computer technicians walked out to dispute and contest the alleged election-rigging being done in favor of Marcos. Despite this, the Batasang Pamabansa, which was dominated by Marcos' ruling party and its allies, declared President Marcos as the winner on February 15, 1986. In protest to the declaration of the Philippine parliament, Aquino called for a rally dubbed "Tagumpay ng Bayan" (People's Victory Rally) the following day, during which she claimed that she was the real winner in the snap election and urged Filipinos to boycott the products and services by companies controlled or owned by Marcos' cronies. The rally held at the historic Rizal Park in Luneta, Manila drew a mammoth-sized crowd, which sent a strong signal that Filipinos were quite tired of Marcos' two decades of rule and the lengths to which he would go to perpetuate it. Further, the dubious election results drew sharp reactions from both local quarters and foreign countries. The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) issued a statement strongly criticizing the conduct of the election which was characterized by violence and fraud. The United States Senate likewise condemned the election. Aquino rejected a power-sharing agreement proposed by the American diplomat Philip Habib, who had been sent as an emissary by U.S. President Ronald Reagan to help defuse the tension.
Accession as President
On February 22, 1986, disgruntled and reformist military officers led by then-Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and General Fidel V. Ramos, surprised the entire nation and the international community when they announced their defection from the Marcos government, citing strong belief that Aquino was the real winner in the contested presidential elections. Enrile, Ramos, and the rebel soldiers then set up operations in Camp Aguinaldo, the headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and Camp Crame (headquarters of the Philippine Constabulary) across Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA). Cardinal Sin appealed to the public in a broadcast over Church-run Radio Veritas, and millions of Filipinos trooped to the part of Epifanio De los Santos Avenue between the two camps to give their support and prayers for the rebels.
At that time, Aquino was meditating in a Carmelite convent in Cebu, and upon learning of the defection, she urged people to rally behind Minister Enrile and General Ramos. Aquino flew back to Manila to prepare for the takeover of the government, and after three days of peaceful mass protests, was sworn in as the eleventh President of the Philippines on February 25, 1986.
The triumph of the peaceful People Power Revolution and the ascension of Corazon Aquino into power signaled the end of authoritarian rule in the Philippines and the dawning of a new era for Filipinos. The relatively peaceful manner by which Aquino came into power drew international acclaim and admiration not only for her but for the Filipino people, as well. One of Aquino's first moves was the creation of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), which was tasked to go after the Marcos ill-gotten wealth.
Constitutional and political reforms
Immediately after assuming the presidency, President Aquino issued Proclamation № 3, which established a revolutionary government. She abolished the 1973 Constitution that was in force during Martial Law, and by decree issued the provisional 1986 Freedom Constitution pending the ratification of a more formal, comprehensive charter. This allowed her to exercise both executive and legislative powers until the ratification of the 1987 Constitution and the restoration of Congress in 1987.
Aquino promulgated two landmark Supreme Court to restore its independence.
In May 1986, the reorganized Supreme Court declared the Aquino government as "not merely a de facto government but in fact and law a de jure government", whose legitimacy had been affirmed by the community of nations. This Supreme Court decision affirmed the status of Aquino as the rightful leader of the Philippines. To fast-track the restoration of a full constitutional government and the writing of a new charter, she appointed 48 members of the 1986 Constitutional Commission ("Con-Com"), led by retired activist Supreme Court Associate Justice Cecilia Muñoz-Palma. The Con-Com completed its final draft in October 1986. On February 2, 1987, the new Constitution of the Philippines, which put strong emphasis on civil liberties, human rights and social justice, was overwhelmingly approved by the Filipino people. The ratification of the new Constitution was followed by the election of senators and congress that same year and the holding of local elections in 1988.
Ministerial Cabinet (1986-1987)
Socio-economic programs and policies
|1986||\approx 56.00 million|
|Gross Domestic Product|
|1986||Php 591,423 million|
|1991||Php 716,522 million|
|Growth rate, 1986-91||3.33%|
|Per capita income|
|1986||Php 160,571 million|
|1991||Php 231,515 million|
1 US US$ = Php 27.61
1 Php = US US$ 0.04
Sources: Philippine Presidency Project
Malaya, Jonathan; Eduardo Malaya. So Help Us God... The Inaugurals of the Presidents of the Philippines. Anvil Publishing, Inc.
As soon as she assumed the presidency of the Philippines, Aquino moved quickly to tackle the issue of the US$28 billion-foreign debt incurred by her predecessor, which has badly tarnished the international credit standing and economic reputation of the country. After weighing all possible options such as choosing not to pay, Aquino eventually chose to honor all the debts that were previously incurred in order to clear the country's image. Her decision proved to be unpopular but Aquino defended that it was the most practical move. It was crucial for the country at that time to regain the investors' confidence in the Philippine economy. Beginning in 1986, the Aquino administration paid off $4 billion of the country's outstanding debts to regain good international credit ratings and attract the attention of future markets. Although it borrowed an additional $9 billion, increasing the net national debt by $5 billion within six years after the ouster of former President Ferdinand Marcos in 1986, due to the need to infuse capital and money into the economy, the Aquino administration succeeded in wrangling lower interest rates and longer payment terms in settling the country's debts. From 87.9 percent when it inherited the foreign debt from the Marcos regime, the Cory Aquino administration was able to reduce by 30.1 percent the Philippines' external debt-to-GDP ratio to 67.8 percent in 1991.
Further, recognizing how crony capitalism weakened the economy due to collusion between government and big business and adhering to the Catholic social principle of subsidiarity, President Aquino set out on a course of market liberalization agenda while at the same time emphasizing solidarity, people empowerment and civic engagement to help alleviate poverty in the country. The Aquino administration also sought to bring back fiscal discipline in order as it aimed to trim down the government's budget deficit that ballooned during Marcos' term through privatization of bad government assets and deregulation of many vital industries. As president, Aquino sought out to dismantle the cartels, monopolies and oligopolies of important industries that were set up by Marcos cronies during the dark days of Martial Law, particularly in the sugar and coconut industries. By discarding these monopolies and allowing market-led prices and competition, small farmers and producers were given a fair chance to sell their produce and products at a more reasonable, competitive and profitable price. This, in a way, also helped a lot in improving the lot of farmers who are in dire need of increasing their personal income and earnings. It was also during Aquino's time that vital economic laws such as the Built-Operate-Transfer Law, Foreign Investments Act and the Consumer Protection and Welfare Act were enacted.
The economy posted a positive growth of 3.4% during her first year in office. But in the aftermath of the 1989 coup attempt by the rightist Reform the Armed Forces Movement, international confidence in the Philippine economy was seriously damaged. During her presidency, Mrs. Aquino made fighting inflation one of her priorities, after reeling from skyrocketing prices during the Martial Law years, in which at one point inflation reached 50.3 percent in 1984. Although inflation peaked at 18.1 percent during the 1991 Gulf War, which caused panic among Filipinos who have many family members working in the Middle East, inflation during Mrs. Aquino's time averaged 9.6 percent from 1986 to 1992, which was way lower than the average 20.9 percent-inflation rate that was recorded during the last 6 years of the Marcos dictatorship. Overall, the economy under Aquino had an average growth of 3.8% from 1986 to 1992.
Soon after taking office, Aquino declared that the presence of U.S. military forces in the Philippines was an affront to national sovereignty. She ordered the United States military to vacate U.S. Naval Base Subic Bay and Clark Air Base. The United States objected, pointing that they had leased the property and the leases were still in effect. Also, thousands of Filipinos worked at these military facilities and they would lose their jobs and the Filipino economy would suffer if the U.S. military moved out. The United States stated that the facilities at Subic Bay were unequaled anywhere in Southeast Asia and a U.S. pullout could make all of that region of the world vulnerable to an incursion by the Soviet Union or by a resurgent Japan. She refused to back down and insisted that the United States get out. The matter was still being debated when Mount Pinatubo erupted in June 1991, covering the entire area with volcanic ash. The destruction to the bases was so severe that the United States decided that it would best to pull out after all, so the bases were closed and the United States departed.
President Aquino envisioned agrarian and land reform as the centerpiece of her administration's social legislative agenda. However, her family background and social class as a privileged daughter of a wealthy and landed clan became a lightning rod of criticisms against her land reform agenda. On February 22, 1987, three weeks after the resounding ratification of the 1987 Constitution, agrarian workers and farmers marched to the historic Mendiola Street near the Malacañan Palace to demand genuine land reform from Aquino's administration. However, the march turned violent when Marine forces fired at farmers who tried to go beyond the designated demarcation line set by the police. As a result, 12 farmers were killed and 19 were injured in this incident now known as the Mendiola Massacre. This incident led some prominent members of the Aquino Cabinet to resign their government posts.
In response to calls for agrarian reform, President Aquino issued Presidential Proclamation 131 and Executive Order 229 on July 22, 1987, which outlined her land reform program, which included sugar lands. In 1988, with the backing of Aquino, the new Congress of the Philippines passed Republic Act No. 6657, more popularly known as the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law". The law paved the way for the redistribution of agricultural lands to tenant-farmers from landowners, who were paid in exchange by the government through just compensation but were also allowed to retain not more than five hectares of land. However, corporate landowners were also allowed under the law to "voluntarily divest a proportion of their capital stock, equity or participation in favor of their workers or other qualified beneficiaries", in lieu of turning over their land to the government for redistribution. Despite the flaws in the law, the Supreme Court upheld its constitutionality in 1989, declaring that the implementation of the comprehensive agrarian reform program (CARP) provided by the said law, was "a revolutionary kind of expropriation".
Despite the implementation of CARP, Aquino was not spared from the controversies that eventually centered on Hacienda Luisita, a 6,453-hectare estate located in the Province of Tarlac, which she, together with her siblings inherited from her father Jose Cojuangco (Don Pepe).
Critics argued that Aquino bowed to pressure from relatives by allowing stock redistribution under Executive Order 229. Instead of land distribution, Hacienda Luisita reorganized itself into a corporation and distributed stock. As such, ownership of agricultural portions of the hacienda were transferred to the corporation, which in turn, gave its shares of stocks to farmers.
The arrangement remained in force until 2006, when the Department of Agrarian Reform revoked the stock distribution scheme adopted in Hacienda Luisita, and ordered instead the redistribution of a large portion of the property to the tenant-farmers. The Department stepped into the controversy when in 2004, violence erupted over the retrenchment of workers in the Hacienda, eventually leaving seven people dead.
Natural disasters and calamities
During her last two years in office, President Aquino's administration faced series of natural disasters and calamities. Among these were the 1990 Luzon earthquake, which left around 1,600 people dead and the 1991 volcanic eruption of what was then thought to be a dormant Mount Pinatubo, which was the second largest terrestrial eruption of the 20th century, killing around 300 people and causing widespread long-term devastation of agricultural lands in Central Luzon. The worst loss of life occurred when Tropical Storm Thelma (also known as Typhoon Uring) caused massive flooding in Ormoc City in November 1991, leaving around 6,000 dead in what was considered to be the deadliest typhoon in Philippine history. It was also during Aquino's term that the MV Doña Paz sank, the world's worst peacetime maritime disaster of the 20th century in terms of loss of lives. The disaster occurred in December 1987 and killed more than 1,700 people.
Electrical power grid inadequacy
During Aquino's presidency, electric blackouts became common in Manila, her administration found that The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas was ransacked on orders by the Marcoses leaving nothing to pay for Crude oil importation. The capital experienced blackouts lasting 7–12 hours, bringing numerous businesses to a halt. By the departure of Aquino in June 1992, businesses in Manila and nearby provinces had lost nearly $800 million since the preceding March.
Influence in 1992 presidential campaign
As the end of her presidency drew near, close advisers and friends told Aquino that since she was not inaugurated under the 1987 Constitution, she was still eligible to seek the presidency again in the upcoming 1992 elections, the first presidential elections held under normal and peaceful circumstances since 1965. President Aquino strongly declined the requests for her to seek reelection and wanted to set an example to both citizens and politicians that the presidency is not a lifetime position.
Initially, she named Ramon V. Mitra, a friend of her husband Ninoy and then Speaker of the Philippine House of Representatives, as her candidate for the presidential race in 1992. However, she later on backtracked and instead threw her support behind the candidacy of her defense secretary and EDSA Revolution hero, General Fidel V. Ramos, who constantly stood by and defended her government from the various coup attempts and rebellions that were launched against her. Her sudden change of mind and withdrawal of support from Mitra drew criticism not only from her supporters in the liberal and social democratic sectors but also from the Roman Catholic Church, which questioned her anointing of Ramos since the latter was a Protestant. Nevertheless, Aquino's candidate eventually won the 1992 elections, albeit with only 23.58% of the total votes in a wide-open campaign, and was sworn in as the 12th President of the Philippines on June 30, 1992.
Post-presidency and continued political activism
Activities and drives
On June 30, 1992, President Aquino formally and peacefully handed over power to her anointed candidate and democratically elected General Fidel Ramos, after six years of hard-fought democratic transition and restoration. After the inauguration of the new President, Aquino chose to leave by riding in a simple white Toyota Crown she had purchased, rather than the lavish government-issued Mercedes Benz which she and Ramos had ridden in on the way to the ceremonies, to make the point that she was once again an ordinary citizen.
After Aquino retired to private life following the end of her term she remained active in the Philippine political scene, constantly voicing opposition and dissent to government actions and policies, which she deemed as threats to the liberal traditions and democratic foundations of the country. In 1997, Aquino, together with Cardinal Jaime Sin, led a huge rally which succeeded in thwarting then President Fidel Ramos' attempt to extend his term by amending the 1987 Constitution's restriction on presidential term limits. In 1998, Aquino endorsed the candidacy of former police general and Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim for president. Lim, however, lost to then Vice-President Joseph Estrada, who won by a landslide. The following year, Aquino again with Cardinal Sin successfully opposed President Estrada's plan to amend the Constitution, which he said was intended to lift provisions that 'restrict' economic activities and investments; he denied that it was another ploy for him to extend his stay in office.
In 2000, Aquino joined the mounting calls for Estrada to resign from office, amid strong allegations of bribery charges and gambling kickbacks and a series of corruption scandals, which eventually led to his unsuccessful impeachment in December of that year. In her Preface to Frank-Jürgen Richter and Pamela Mar's book Asia's New Crisis (see Amazon), she decries that the unique Asian way of doing business has given rise to much crony capitalism and opacity in Asia, including the Philippines. In January 2001, during the EDSA Revolution of 2001 which ousted Estrada, Aquino enthusiastically supported the ascendancy of another woman, then Vice-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, to power.
In 2005, after a series of revelations and exposes alleged and implicated President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in rigging the 2004 presidential elections, Aquino called on Macapagal-Arroyo to resign in order to prevent bloodshed, violence and further political deterioration. Aquino was once again in the streets leading massive demonstrations demanding the resignation of President Arroyo.
In the 2007 senatorial elections, Aquino actively campaigned for the senatorial bid of her only son, Noynoy Aquino, who ran successfully. In December 2008, Corazon Aquino publicly expressed regret for her participation in the EDSA Revolution of 2001, which installed Arroyo into power. She apologized to former President Joseph Estrada for the role she played in his ouster in 2001. For this action, many politicians criticized Aquino. In June 2009, two months before her death, Aquino issued a public statement which strongly denounced and condemned the Arroyo administration's plan of amending the 1987 Constitution, calling such attempt as a "shameless abuse of power."
Shortly after leaving the presidency, Aquino traveled abroad, giving speeches and lectures on issues of democracy, development, human rights and women empowerment. In 1997, Aquino attended the wake and funeral of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, whom she met during the latter's visit in Manila in 1989. In the 2000s (decade), Aquino joined various global leaders and democratic icons in urging the Government of Burma to unconditionally release Burmese democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi from detention, whom she delivered a speech on behalf in the 1994 meeting of the UNESCO World Commission on Culture and Development in Manila. In 2005, Aquino joined the international community in mourning the death of Pope John Paul II.
Aside from being visible in various political gatherings and demonstrations, Aquino was heavily involved in several charitable activities and socio-economic initiatives. From 1992 until her death, Aquino was chairperson of the Benigno S. Aquino, Jr. Foundation which she set up in her husband's honor right after his brutal assassination in 1983. Further, she supported other causes such as the Council of Women World Leaders, an international organization of former and current female heads of state and government.
Illness and death
On March 24, 2008, Aquino's family announced that the former President had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Upon her being earlier informed by her doctors that she had only three months to live, she pursued medical treatment and chemotherapy. A series of healing Masses for Aquino (a devout Catholic) were held throughout the country. In a public statement during one healing Mass on May 13, 2008, Aquino said that her blood tests indicated that she was responding well to treatment; her hair and appetite loss were apparent.
By July 2009, Aquino was reported to be in very serious condition, suffering from loss of appetite, and was confined to the Makati Medical Center. It was later announced that Aquino and her family had decided to stop chemotherapy and other medical interventions for her.
Aquino, aged 76 years old, died peacefully at the Makati Medical Center at 3:18 a.m., of cardiorespiratory arrest.
Wake and funeral
Upon learning of Aquino's death, incumbent President Macapagal-Arroyo, who was then on a state visit to the United States, announced a 10-day mourning period for the former President and issued Administrative Order № 269 detailing the necessary arrangements for a state funeral. Aquino's children, however, declined the government's offer of a state funeral for their mother.
All churches in the Philippines celebrated requiem masses simultaneously throughout the country and all government offices flew the Philippine flag at half mast. Hours after her death on August 1, Aquino's body lay in state for public viewing at the La Salle Green Hills campus in Mandaluyong City. On August 3, 2009, Aquino's body was transferred from La Salle Greenhills to Manila Cathedral in Intramuros, during which hundreds of thousands of Filipinos lined the streets to view and escort the former leader's body. En route to the Cathedral, Aquino's funeral cortege passed along Ayala Avenue in Makati, stopping in front of the monument to her husband Ninoy, where throngs of mourners gathered and sang the patriotic protest anthem "Bayan Ko". Aquino's casket was solemnly brought inside the Cathedral by mid-afternoon that day. Following her death, all Roman Catholic dioceses in the country held requiem Masses.
On August 4, Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., and Imee Marcos—children of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos—paid their last respects to the woman who helped depose their father in 1986. The Marcos siblings were received by Aquino's daughters María Elena Aquino-Cruz, Aurora Corazón Aquino-Abellada, and Victoria Elisa Aquino-Dee. Early the next morning, President Macapagal-Arroyo, who had cut short her trip in the United States, briefly paid her last respects to her erstwhile ally President Aquino.
A final requiem Mass was held on the morning of August 5, with then-Archbishop of Manila Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales, then-Bishop of Balanga Socrates B. Villegas, and other high-ranking clergymen concelebrating. Aquino's daughter Kris spoke on behalf of her family towards the end of the Mass. Aquino's flag-draped casket was escorted from the Cathedral to Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque, where she was interred beside her husband in the family mausoleum. Aquino's funeral procession took more than eight hours to reach the burial site, as tens of thousands of civilians lined the route to pay their respects. Philippine Air Force UH-1 helicopters showered the procession with yellow confetti and ships docked at Manila's harbour blared their sirens, all to salute the late President, .
Both local and international leaders showed respect for Aquino's achievements in the process of democratization in the Philippines.
Various politicians across the political spectrum expressed their grief and praise for the former Philippine leader. President Arroyo, once an ally of Aquino, remembered the sacrifices she made for the country and called her a "national treasure." Former President Estrada said that the country had lost its mother and guiding voice with her sudden death. He also described Aquino as the "Philippines' most loved woman." Though once bitter political foes, Aquino and Estrada reconciled and joined hands together in opposing President Arroyo.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Aquino's defense minister and later fierce critic, asked the public to pray for her eternal repose. Although former Aquino interior minister and Senate Minority floor leader Aquilino Pimentel, Jr., revealed that he had "mixed feelings" about Aquino's death, he also said that the country "shall be forever indebted to Cory for rallying the nation behind the campaign to topple dictatorial rule and restore democracy".
Ordinary Filipinos throughout the country wore either yellow shirts or held masses for Aquino as their way of paying tribute to the woman who once led them in a revolution that changed the course of their country's history. Yellow Ribbons, which were once used during Aquino's battle with Marcos, were tied along major national roads and streets as a sign of solidarity and support for the now deceased Aquino and her grieving family. In popular social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, Filipinos posted yellow ribbons in their accounts as a tribute to the former Philippine leader. Following her death, Filipino Catholics called on the Church to have Aquino canonized and declared as a saint. During her lifetime, Aquino was known and praised for her strong spirituality and sincere devotion to the Catholic faith. Days after her funeral, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) announced that it supported calls to put the former President on the 500-Peso banknote alongside her husband, Ninoy Aquino.
Across the globe, messages of sympathy and solidarity with the Filipino people were sent by various heads of state and international leaders. Pope Benedict XVI, in his letter to Archbishop Rosales, recalled Aquino's "courageous commitment to the freedom of the Filipino people, her firm rejection of violence and intolerance" and called her a woman of courage and faith. U.S. President Barack Obama, through White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, said that "her courage, determination, and moral leadership are an inspiration to us all and exemplify the best in the Filipino nation". U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton expressed sadness over the passing of Aquino, to whom she had sent a personal letter of best wishes for recovery while she was still in hospital in July 2009. Clinton said that Aquino was "admired by the world for her extraordinary courage" in leading the fight against dictatorship. Meanwhile, South Africa President Jacob Zuma called Aquino "a great leader who set a shining example of peaceful transition to democracy in her country".
Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, through the British Ambassador in Manila, sent a message to the Filipino people which read: "I am saddened to hear of the death of Corazon ‘Cory’ Aquino the former President of the Republic of the Philippines". She also added, "I send my sincere condolences to her family and to the people of the Philippines. Signed, Elizabeth R".
Furthermore, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, in a telegram to President Arroyo, said that "the name of Corazon Aquino is associated with a period of profound reforms and the democratic transformation of Filipino society". Medvedev also lauded Aquino's sympathy to Russian people and her contribution to the improvement of Russian-Filipino relations.
Moreover, global democratic icons such as Timor-Leste President Jose Ramos-Horta and Wan Azizah, wife of Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, came to the Philippines not just to express their sympathies but to attend their friend Aquino's death and funeral, as well.
After her release from imprisonment for almost 20 years, Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma's democratic opposition leader, publicly stated that Aquino is one of her inspirations as she continues to champion the cause of democracy in Myanmar. She has also expressed her good wishes for Aquino's son, incumbent Philippine president Benigno S. Aquino III.
After leaving the presidency, Aquino received several awards and citations. In 1994, Aquino was cited as one of 100 Women Who Shaped World History in a reference book written by Gail Meyer Rolka and published by Bluewood Books in San Francisco, California. In 1996, she received the J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding from the Fulbright Association, joining past recipients such as Jimmy Carter and Nelson Mandela. In August 1999, Aquino was chosen by Time Magazine as one of the 20 Most Influential Asians of the 20th century. The same magazine cited her in November 2006 as one of 65 great Asian Heroes, along with Aung San Suu Kyi, Deng Xiaoping, Lee Kuan Yew, Mahatma Gandhi, and King Bhumibol Adulyadej. In 2002, Aquino became the first woman named to the Board of Governors of the Board of the Asian Institute of Management, a leading graduate business school and think tank in the Asia Pacific region. She served on the Board until 2006.
In popular culture
Aquino was portrayed by Laurice Guillen in the 1988 HBO miniseries A Dangerous Life. Aquino was a main character in Boy Noriega's 1987 stage comedy Bongbong at Kris (Bongbong and Kris), about an imagined romantic coupling between the only son of Ferdinand Marcos and the youngest daughter of the Aquinos. In the movie Alfredo Lim: Batas ng Maynila, Aquino was portrayed by Filipino actress Luz Valdez. Aquino was portrayed by Tess Villarama in The Obet Pagdanganan Story (1997) and in Chavit (2003). She was also portrayed by Geraldine Malacaman in the 1998 musical play Lean. In the defunct comedy gag show Ispup, Madz Nicolas played a parodized version of Aquino who often reminisces about life with Ninoy. In 2004, Aquino was portrayed by Irma Adlawan in the miniseries Sa 'Yo Lamang (Only Yours).
In 2008, a musical play about Aquino starring Isay Alvarez as Aquino, was staged at the Meralco Theater. Entitled Cory, the Musical, it was written and directed by Nestor Torre and featured a libretto of 19 original songs composed by Lourdes Pimentel, wife of Senator Aquilino Pimentel. A two-part special of Maalaala Mo Kaya aired on January 23 and 30, 2010. Actors Bea Alonzo played Corazon Aquino and Piolo Pascual portrayed Ninoy Aquino.
As the guiding light of the People Power Revolution, Corazon Aquino is fondly remembered and deeply revered by Filipinos as the "mother of Philippine democracy", the "housewife who led a revolution" and the "woman who restored democracy". Many also see her both as a hero and a saint. She has also been hailed as a modern-day Joan of Arc by international observers.
Despite the accolades she has received for assuming the mantle of leadership of the democratic struggle against the Marcos dictatorship, Aquino has always stated that it was actually the Filipino people, not her, who restored democracy in the Philippines and maintained that she was only an instrument.
As president, for all the challenges and headaches her administration faced, Aquino will be remembered for bringing back democratic, republican and constitutional rule in the Philippines with the unveiling and ratification of the 1987 Constitution. She also promulgated the New Civil Code of the Philippines and the Family Code of the Philippines. Also, her presidency would be remembered for its emphasis on decentralization of governmental powers by pressing for more involvement of local governments and pushing for autonomy as a means to ward off ethnic secessionism in the Cordillera and Muslim Mindanao regions.
In terms of economics, despite the setbacks, the Aquino Administration will be best remembered for trying hard to shore up investments in the Philippines, liberalizing and deregulating failing government-owned corporations and entities. Aquino also laid down the foundations for a socially oriented market economy in the Philippines that would be marked by market reforms and people empowerment.
To preserve and celebrate her legacy, various types of commemorations and memorials in honor of President Aquino were made. Among these are as follow:
- On February 3, 2010, Grand Prize winner Julian Eymard Paguiligan of Bulacan State University's College of Architecture and Fine Arts (CAFA) made his painting entry entitled Ika-25 ng Pebrero, 1986 presented in the last year's 24th Visual Arts National Competition for the Directories Philippines Corporation's directory cover as a paid tribute. He made a portrait of the late President Aquino in 27.5x34.25" watercolor on paper, as a symbol for her contribution not only for democracy, but also in the successes of the EDSA Revolution in the past.
- On June 15, 2010, Batasan Hills Elementary School (BHES) in Batasan Hills, Quezon City changed its name to the "President Corazon C. Aquino Elementary School" or (PCCAES).
- On August 1, 2010, the first anniversary of her death, a 200x250 Photo Mosaic of Aquino was unveiled near the Quirino Grandstand at the Luneta Park, Manila in the presence of her son, President Benigno Aquino III and supporters of the late President. It has been submitted to the Guinness World Records to be certified as the largest photo mosaic in the world.
- On October 9, 2010, Manila Mayor Alfredo S. Lim inaugurated on Friday a public market in Baseco, Port Area named after the late President Corazon C. Aquino. The President Corazon C. Aquino Public Market, which lies at the heart of the community, has 77 stalls selling meat, fresh fruits, cooked food, rice, vegetables and a variety of dry goods including condiments, garments, and plastic wares.
- On December 16, 2010, President Noynoy Aquino and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Central Bank of the Philippines) announced the release of new 500-peso bill and presented their new design, which features both Ninoy and Cory Aquino.
Awards and achievements
- 1986 Time Magazine Woman of the Year
- 1986 Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award
- 1986 United Nations Silver Medal
- 1986 Canadian International Prize for Freedom
- 1986 International Democracy Award from the International Association of Political Consultants
- 1987 Prize For Freedom Award from Liberal International
- 1993 Special Peace Award from the Aurora Aragon Quezon Peace Awards Foundation and Concerned Women of the Philippines
- 1995 Path to Peace Award
- 1996 J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding from the U.S. Department of State
- 1998 Ramon Magsaysay Award for International Understanding
- 1998 Pearl S. Buck Award
- 1999 One of Time Magazine's 20 Most Influential Asians of the 20th Century
- 2001 World Citizenship Award
- 2005 David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Awards
- 2005 One of the World's Elite Women Who Make a Difference by the International Women's Forum Hall of Fame
- 2006 One of Time Magazine's 65 Asian Heroes
- 2008 One of A Different View's 15 Champions of World Democracy
- EWC Asia Pacific Community Building Award
- Women's International Center International Leadership Living Legacy Award
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Nonviolent Peace Prize
- United Nations Development Fund for Women Noel Foundation Life Award
- Doctor of International Relations, honoris causa, from:
Doctor of Civil Law, honoris causa, from:
- Far Eastern University (59th Commencement Exercises, March 1987)
- Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, from:
- Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, from:
- Doctor of Humanities, honoris causa, from:
Doctor of Public Administration, honoris causa, from:
- Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (University of the City of Manila), June 1994
- Japan: Grand Cordon of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum (November 1986)
|Ancestors of Corazon Aquino|
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- Fe Zamora (2009-07-01). "Prayers sought for ailing Cory Aquino; Friend says ex-leader in ‘serious’ condition". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 2009-07-01.
- "No more chemotherapy for Cory, says close family friend". GMA News.TV. 2009-07-02. Retrieved 2009-07-02.
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- "PLM opens facilities for Cory supporters". GMANews.tv. 2009-08-05. Retrieved 2009-08-04.
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- "BSP backs adding Cory image to P500 bill".
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- "Dmitry Medvedev expressed his condolences to President of the Philippines Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo following the passing of former President of the Republic Corazon Aquino.".
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- Nisid Hajari (August 23–30, 1999). "Asians of the Century". Time Magazine. Retrieved 2008-04-15.
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- "Asian Institute of Management: History". Asian Institute of Management. Archived from the original on 2008-02-11. Retrieved 2008-04-15.
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- "Musical on Cory Aquino to be staged at Meralco Theater". 2008-06-20. Retrieved 2008-06-29.
- "Bing Pimentel writes musical play for Cory". Gmanews.tv. Retrieved 2010-03-13.
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- "The Noel Foundation Life Awards". Noel Foundation. Retrieved 2010-01-07.
- Salome Sumulong's Death Certificate
- Torild Skard (2014) 'Cory Aquino' "Women of Power - half a century of female presidents and prime ministers worldwide" Bristol: Policy Press ISBN 978-1-44731-578-0-
- Official website of Corazon Aquino – maintained by the Ninoy and Cory Aquino Foundation
- Time Woman of the Year: Corazon "Cory" Aquino
- Aquino's historic speech before the U.S. Congress on YouTube
- NYTimes obituary
- President Aquino in Time Magazine's Year ender
- World Socialist Web Site obituary: part one and part two
President of the Philippines
Fidel V. Ramos