03 August 2009

Cory Aquino

I was very sad to note the passing away of Cory Aquino. Her husband's murder in 1983 mobilised Filipino citizens against the tyranny of the Marcos regime and she ran for and was elected President in 1986, governing decently and fairly, fighting off numerous coup attempts, and modelling good enough governance in a country that had forgotten what it looked like. The Philippines has a special place in my heart--it was the first country I visited in Asia and I spent a lot of time in Mindanao in the 1984-86 period, witnessing the lows and highs of citizen action. There should have been a bigger recognition in the world media of this remarkable woman, the first female President in Asia.

1 comment:

Isabelita said...

Thank you for sharing your memories of that Philippine era in the development horizon. Allow me to share some more thoughts of that era:

Death ends a life but our memory of Cory Aquino lives on. Watching the yellow confetti rained in our streets with the sea of people saying goodbye to Cory feels like the mid eighties again. Davao City, the financial center of Mindanao was also very much into the Cory campaign for President back in 1985. And so, the first city visited by Cory very soon after she became President in 1986 through people power was Davao City.

The people power revolt at EDSA in Manila happened twenty three years (23) ago and so our children and especially the new voters need to be introduced to that era when the Filipino did the world proud by acting as a nation to reclaim our freedom and democracy after 20 years of dictatorship. One of those Cory events that is very well etched in my mind is the Cory speech before the joint session of the US Congress in Washington D.C. in September 18, 1986. The world watched as President Cory announced with so much pride how we regained freedom through the ways of democracy. Cory said in that famous speech before the US Congress “ In burying Ninoy, a whole nation honored him by that brave and selfless act of giving honor to a nation in shame recovered its own. A country that had lost faith in its future, founded in a faithless and brazen act of murder. So, in giving we receive, in losing we find, and out of defeat we snatched our victory. For the nation, Ninoy became the pleasing sacrifice that answered their prayers for freedom.” This is like déjà vu because we are again uniting to honor and celebrate Cory who is our icon for democracy. Of course, there were problems in our country that Cory could not solve during her presidency like her failure or omission to make their Hacienda Luisita a model for an agrarian reform arrangement. But, Cory did her best, as she said in her LAST State of the Nation Address before Congress in July 1991. Cory graciously dismounted from the center of power in 1991, yet she continues to inspire power and influence for the Filipino as a nation up to now.

Cory was the first woman president of Asia. In our trainings, in order to highlight what women can become, our great example is to say that a housewife can become president. The campaign then against her was to say she did not have experience in governance but the response was to say that Cory, the housewife, did not have experience in corruption and cheating. The gender equality provision enshrined in our 1987 Constitution happened during the Cory term which paved the way for the many succeeding laws implementing this charter provision such as the Women in Nation Building & Development Law, the law on Sexual Harassment, the recent Magna Carta on Women and many others.

Email isabelita_solamo@yahoo.com