Friday, August 7, 2009

Talkback: Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino, 1933-2009

Aslag Online pays tribute to former President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino, whose recent passing seemed to have reawakened a deep sense of nationalism in the hearts of millions of Filipinos. The AOL Team asked the UP Aguman resident and alumni members to share their thoughts on Tita Cory, the life she led, her political legacy, her death and how this will impact all of us personally and as a nation.

Corazon Cojuangco was born into one of the wealthiest families in the islands. Fated to be married off in one dynastic match or the other, she was courted by and fell in love with Benigno Aquino Jr., a brilliant and ambitious journalist turned politician whose own family was as illustrious though not quite as wealthy as her baronial clan. Benigno's popularity soon challenged Ferdinand Marcos, who had been elected President in 1965. And so, when Marcos assumed dictatorial power in 1972, he threw his rival into jail. Corazon then became her husband's instrument, smuggling messages out of prison and raising funds for the opposition. In August 21, 1983, Benigno Aquino returned to the Philippines after three years of exile in the US only to be shot dead even before he could set foot on the tarmac of Manila's international airport. Filipinos were outraged, and suspicion immediately fell on Marcos. At Benigno's funeral, mourners transformed Corazon into a symbol.
(Yahoo News)

Cory Aquino was the 11th President of the Philippines, serving from 1986 to 1992. She was the first female president of the Philippines and in Asia. The relatively peaceful manner by which Aquino assumed the presidency through the EDSA Revolution won her widespread international acclaim as an icon of democracy.(Wikipedia)

Aquino's achievements as President ranged far beyond the symbolic. She restored the democratic institutions Marcos had destroyed, presided over the promulgation of a constitution designed to be dictator-proof, freed political prisoners, launched a peace process that eliminated communist and Muslim insurgencies as major threats to national stability, and laid the foundations for economic recovery.
(TIME Asia)

Photos courtesy of TIME

The six-year administration of President Aquino saw the enactment of a new Philippine Constitution and several significant legal reforms, including a new agrarian reform law. While her allies maintained a majority in both houses of Congress, she faced considerable opposition from communist insurgency and right-wing soldiers who instituted several coup attempts against her government. Her government also dealt with several major natural disasters that struck the Philippines, as well as a severe power crisis that hampered the Philippine economy. (Wikipedia)

''She was headstrong and single-minded in one goal, and that was to remove all vestiges of an entrenched dictatorship,'' Raul C. Pangalangan, former dean of the College of Law at the University of the Philippines, said earlier this month. ''We all owe her in a big way.''

But Aquino struggled in office to meet high public expectations. Her land redistribution program fell short of ending economic domination by the landed elite, including her own family. Her leadership, especially in social and economic reform, was often indecisive, leaving many of her closest allies disillusioned by the end of her term. Still, the bespectacled, smiling woman in her trademark yellow dress remained beloved in the Philippines, where she was affectionately referred to as ''Tita (Auntie) Cory.''
(New York Times)

Time magazine made Aquino its woman of the year in 1986, the year she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and in 2006 named her one of Asia 's heroes. The magazine praised her "quiet courage", describing her as "the symbol of People Power and an inspiration to others around the world struggling against tyranny". Her courage, determination, and moral leadership are an inspiration to us all and exemplify the best in the Filipino nation.
(Manila Bulletin)

After Cory retired from politics, she enjoyed writing her memoirs, painting landscapes and perhaps her most fulfilling pastime was, playing with and visiting her grandchildren. Corazon Aquino was a very loving and sweet grandmother to her grandchildren. Aquino’s eldest grandson, Jiggy Aquino-Cruz, said his grandmother attended to her grandchildren like a “second mother” when their parents were not around. “To me she wasn't a president or a hero, she was my lola,” Cruz said.

Aquino died of cardiopulmonary arrest after complications of colon cancer at the age of 76 on August 1, 2009, 3:18 am, at the Makati Medical Center. Aquino's body lay in state at a public wake at the St. Benilde Gymnasium of La Salle Greenhills up to August 3, when it was later transferred to the Manila Cathedral. A crowd with an estimated number of 120,000 people showed up to witness the transfer of her remains from La Salle Green Hills to the Manila Cathedral.

August 5, 2009 will be a day remembered by millions of Filipinos. An estimated 150,000 mourners, mostly in yellow and flashing the “laban” hand sign, escorted the late President Corazon Aquino’s funeral cortege from the Manila Cathedral to the Manila Memorial Park, braving occasional heavy rains. Mrs. Aquino’s wooden casket, draped with the Philippine flag and surrounded by a blanket of yellow flowers, was placed on top of a truck. Some 100,000 lined up along Roxas Boulevard from Intramuros to Quirino Avenue another 30,000 gathered from Osmeña Highway to Buendia Avenue, 10,000 along the Sucat interchange, and 10,000 at the vicinity of the Manila Memorial Park. A human chain was formed to contain the crowd and allow the convoy to pass through the stretch of Roxas Boulevard. Among the mourners who lined up the streets were students and nuns of St Paul College, members of the Chinese-Filipino community, vendors, and ordinary citizens some of them as young as four years old. She was buried in a simple grave beside her husband, martyred Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., in the family’s mausoleum.

The death of Corazon Aquino brings an end to a remarkable saga in Philippine history. The quiet, unassuming woman who found herself thrust into an epic struggle against the dictatorial Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 would go on to emerge triumphant and take charge of the country. The Philippines is today a better, safer place because of the pivotal role Corazon Aquino played at a decisive moment in its history. A woman of huge self-esteem, Ms. Aquino made sure that similar self-esteem was restored in the lives of her people after the long dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. Mrs. Aquino not only swept away the dictatorship, but faced down seven coups attempts as the nation’s military resisted civilian political control. She also leaves behind a nation that has been more or less democratic ever since. We will remember Corazon Aquino for the voice of democracy she was and always will be, in history. (Mysinchew)


Nakakalungkot lang kasi parang hindi pa ito yung tamang panahon para mamatay siya. Ironic -- yung pandak tsaka yung mayroong maraming sapatos kasi namamayagpag pa. Waaah! Nakakatibak naman.
~Quill Quioc, Pinanari 2008A

Tita Cory proved that a person who chose to be simple, can make great differences in reality. She's a woman of faith and humility, now an icon of democracy. I may not experienced the battle for freedom at EDSA, yet, a little yellow ribbon will constantly remind of me her undying legacy of selfless love for this country.
~Ian Bencio David, Pinanari 2008A

Tita Cory was truly a national figure to look up to. She valiantly gave up the comforts of being a housewife to take on the challenges of democracy and recovery in the country. After her term, she lived her life in simplicity. She was a mother, not just to her children, but to the whole nation. She was, in turn, loved by many and that was sufficiently justified by the number of people who came to her funeral to express love and gratitude.
~Nicolle Timoteo, Pinanari 2008A

Cory Aquino is a woman of great power. though I don’t her personally, I know that she is a good sister, wife and a mother, not only to her family but to the Filipinos as well. I believe that without her and EDSA 1, the Philippines would not be able to see the light of true democracy
~Erika Tuazon, Pinanari 2008A

Anyang minuna keng abalu ing pangamate ng Tita Cory, eku masyadung meapektuhan. Siguru uling eku pakanta ka-familiar kareng agawa na anyang panaun na. Ampo factor rin siguru na eku masyadong manalbeng TV recently kaya eku talaga pakanta ka-aware. Pero anyang ikit ku na talagang magluksa ya ing buong Pilipinas, karin ku a-feel ing magnitude na ning influence na kareng Pilipinu. Tita Cory is indeed more than an icon. She was, is, and will forever be our country's mother of democracy.
~Carousel Diaz, Pinanari 2008A

Personally, ala kung masyadung balu kang Tita Cory, lalu na anyang ala ku pa UP. I just knew her as Ninoy's wife. After her death, keta ku mu abalu that she is more than that. She has touched many lives. She contributed to a lot of things to and for the country, probably just as much as her husband did. Eku nabalu nung kaninu ku dimdam, istu ya itang sinabi na "their generation had Ninoy, while we have Cory."
~Bryan Quizon, Pinanari 2008A

She's one of the gentlest and at the same time strongest people I've ever had the honor and pleasure of meeting. Her genuine love for this nation and its people makes up many times over for whatever flaws her government may have had. She deserves and has long earned my respect, admiration and gratitude.
~Neicy Nicdao, Baskal 2007A

If you want to leave a legacy, plant a tree, write a book or be Cory Aquino. She is an epitome of benevolence and selflessness who in her simple ways touched the world in many ways. If not for the audacity she had shown, the democracy we now enjoy would have remained a myth. She is a good mother, a noble leader and a catalyst of change. Filipinos truly must celebrate the life of Cory Aquino, the life she whole heartedly dedicated in service to the Filipino people.
~Michael Gulapa, Lakatan 2006A

Sabi mo nga, "Nagpapasalamat ako sa Diyos na ako ay ginawa niyang Filipino..." Amidst the poor weather condition, the overwhelming support of the public says it all. You're a softspoken lady loved by all. You're well-loved and respected by Filipinos. You showed some guts to challenge such dictatorship. You served as an inspiration. It's not really because you're the country's first woman president, but what matters most is you simply symbolize a hard fought democracy. Goodbye President Cory. May you now be in good hands with our Almighty Father and your beloved Ninoy.
~Aries Viray, Lakatan 2006A

Minta kami keng Manila Cathedral kasi penabit na kami nitang prof mi, hehe. Eke pa makaying aappreciate y Cory kanta eh, adyang dakal na press releases about her siguru uling ekune man disnan. Migka-realization naku mu niyang atsu na kami karin. Maka-9 hours na kaming makapila kaybat ing assignment mi mag-interview kami at least 3 people about Cory. Oita, kanita talaga afeel ku na she really is someone to a lot of Filipinos. Kayakit ku kaya, I admire her as a person. Siguru kumpara mu naman kareng manungkulan ngeni ne, rugu, eka magtumbling kareng panggawang na! Haha! Aliwa ing feeling na abe ka ketang mismung malilyari. Maka-proud, kabalen ke pamo. Ilben ke ing libing na buung aldo adyang ating gagawang paper. Makatouch la reng messages da reng kapamilya na pati reng magobra kaya. Corazon Aquino – the mother of democracy, the light of our nation. Her legacy lives on forever. May she rest in peace.
~Jennifer Castro, Lakatan 2006A

It was the year I was born when the People Power was held. I didn’t know anything until I was in primary school. Most of our teachers told us something great about it and I was wondering then who Marcos, Ninoy and Cory Aquino were. When I went home I asked my dad about it and that’s where my knowledge of the late Cory Aquino started. She was well-known in Asia being the first lady president and a tough person. She fought for the Filipinos' independence under dictator Marcos’ regime. She ruled the country and let the whole world know what a mother can do to protect his beloved country. After her term, she continued helping Filipino people and give justice to what is right. I admire her for being ordinary because she never flaunt any of her millions or haciendas. She lived a simple life as the mother of the Filipino people. Her courage, kindness and simplicity made me remember her whenever I am wearing a yellow-colored shirt. I am truly honored to write something about the late President Cory Aquino and I salute her for being the greatest woman in the world!
~Cherry Gaor, Manyaman 2003B

Let’s mourn because we lost a mother. Let’s fight because she left an unfinished business. These days, power could be bought but never respect. On both personal and state levels, this is a wake up call for all of us.
~Celine Dagdag, Sampelut 2003A

Well, I still have goose bumps after that very long funeral. I’ve only shed tears for the death of someone that is not related to me twice. First is for the death of Pope John Paul II and second, that of Cory. If not for her and her husband, our country might not be the free country as we know it today. The number of people that attended the funeral from start until the end is a validation of how important Cory was and will be to us Filipinos. "I thank God that I was born a Filipino."
~Andre Galang, Salagpi 2001A

While everyone thanked her for the freedom and the democracy she led us to acquire. I thanked her for the hope and empowerment that she gave to all the women. She earned my respect by the way she reacted to events that happened to her. The absence of her husband, his eventual loss by assassination, taking care of their children by herself, made her stronger and even took over the responsibility or honor—to serve the country and protect the nation from dictatorship. Cory was always composed but still aware and vigilant to whatever bad things that may happen. She personified the true meaning of courage and empowerment.
A lot of times we are called to forget self integrity and be one with all the dishonesty and selfishness that surrounds us. But, she is one of the few reminders that it is still possible to survive in this world and be more loved by the people if you live righteously. My life is not perfect and a lot of times I was challenged, I call them extraordinary experiences, and several occasions I thought of giving up my ideals and just go the “easy” way--but I never did it, I just can't. I was not proud of it before, I called myself weird, martyr and “stupid”. Her death, which gave way to remembering everything about her and what kind of a person she was and the way she was honored for all of it, gave me hope and suddenly lifted my spirit to the highest level. Cory should be an icon to all women. I want to be like her to my son. I want to be like her to my future husband and I want to be like her to the nation. Not as president though. Pwedeng pwede siyang honorary member ng UP Aguman, we share the same principle, “not for ourselves alone”
~Leslie Salunga, Ambula 2000A

Tita Cory has been the symbol of democracy of the Philippines for she had played a very crucial part in the liberation of the country from the Marcos Regime. But this feat didn't make her presidency a smooth sailing one as she was often threatened by coup attemps and numerous critisms from Filipinos. But didn't stop them from loving and respecting her after her term was over. She is one of the pilars of the Philippines and her demise will be a great loss to gthe Philippines. But I personally is happy that at least her fight is over for she won't be suffering anymore. Colon cancer at stage four is a very difficult illness and her family knew that too that's why they have offered her also to the Lord when she has really began to slip. At least now we have an angel guiding over us. God knows our political system needs already divine intervention. To Tita Cory, thank you for everything you have done. Your contributions to the country will forever be remembered and honored.
~Arvee Salazar-Cruz, Tuglung 1998A

In third year high school, I lined the streets of San Fernando when the convoy carrying Ninoy’s remains returned from Tarlac to Manila. In first year college, I welcomed Cory at the AS Lobby during the launch of the campaign to gather one million signatures for her candidacy. Later that school year, I supported her battle against Marcos during the snap elections which ended triumphantly with the EDSA Revolution. Ninoy and Cory were instrumental in my political awakening. I did not agree with some of Cory’s decisions as President. I marched with fellow UP scholars in protest against her decision to retain the US military bases. Nevertheless, I never doubted her sincerity. Looking back today, I do not doubt her patriotism. She never lost faith in the Filipino. She ventured out of her private life when the national interest demanded it. She remained the antithesis of the traditional politician – decent, not hungry for power and free from corruption. I thank her for restoring democratic institutions and civil liberties. I thank her for proving that decency in government is possible and that people have the power to make it happen. I thank her for inspiring my generation. I hope the recent events surrounding her passing will inspire today’s generation. Ituloy ang Laban!
~Doby Pineda, Tanikala 1986A, Hong Kong

Thanks to all those who shared their thoughts! Special thanks to Kuya Glenn David (Diquit-Diquit 1996A), for helping out with the research on the introduction.

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