Thursday, August 6, 2009

Obituary: Corazon Conjuangco Aquino

Former Philippine President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino, age 76, known as the “Mother of Philippine Democracy” died at a Manila Hospital on July 31, 2009, after a very courageous yearlong battle with colon cancer.

The late President was born on Jan. 25, 1933 to one of the wealthiest families in the Philippines. Her family had great political power in Tarlac, a province which lies about 70 miles away from Manila.

She gained prominence in 1983, after her husband, the late democracy advocate Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino was gunned down at an international airport in Manila just moments after his plane arrived from his exile in the United States. Ninoy Aquino was regarded as the longtime political adversary of then president Ferdinand Marcos. Investigations and reports revealed that his escorts were the ones who assassinated him. The death of Ninoy infuriated the Filipino people and sparked the People Power revolution.

After the death of her husband, Corazon Aquino led the biggest funeral that the Philippines had ever seen. Reports showed that the crowd which joined the funeral procession reached almost two million.

Soon after the funeral, Corazon Aquino agreed to run against the dictatorial presidency of Marcos. She led an uprising in 1986 which was joined by the business community, the opposition, and later, the country’s armed forces as well. The revolt ended Martial Law and the 20-year regime of then-President Marcos. Joined by hundreds of thousands of Filipinos during a three-day protest, Corazon Aquino successfully drove Marcos out of power. On February 25 of the same year, she was sworn as the first female president of the Philippines.

Corazon Aquino became an inspiration for democracy across the globe. She stepped down in 1992 after serving for six years.

Current President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo declared a 10-day mourning period for the late president. The funeral service and public viewing for President Aquino will be held Monday and Tuesday at the Manila Cathedral. There will also be a funeral march in Manila, Philippines on Wednesday.