If, like me, you were a baby (or perhaps not of this world yet) when the first People Power (EDSA I) occurred and didn’t really know all that much about the late Corazon C. Aquino, then go no further and watch the videos below.
What you have just viewed was a historic speech given by President Aquino before a joint session of the United States Congress on September 18, 1986, about seven months after the People Power Revolution. (Full text of the speech can be found here.) It was a very well-delivered speech, and it essentially tells her story, the story of her slain husband Ninoy, and the story of the Filipino people as it rallied to peacefully oust President Marcos from power. I particularly liked this portion of the speech:
“Whenever I went in the campaign — slum area or impoverished village — they came to me with one cry: Democracy. Not food — although they clearly needed it — but Democracy. Not work — although they surely wanted it — but Democracy. Not money, for they gave what little they had to my campaign. They didn’t expect me to work a miracle that would instantly put food into their mouths, clothes on their back, education for their children and give them work that will put dignity in their lives. But I feel the pressing obligation to respond quickly as the leader of the people so deserving of all these things.”
This is all well and good, but I wonder how President Aquino was personally like. Fortunately I can rely on stories from my family to shed some light. An excerpt from a recent article my aunt wrote for Panorama Magazine:
“I remember my mother talking fondly about President Cory. They went to the same beauty salon. There, they would greet each other and exchange niceties. “She’s so simple and so human,” my mother gushed. And this is what made Corazon the heart of the nation – her humanity. It shone in the way she’d smile at people. It shone in how she stood up to every challenge and yet still knew that the world never owed her any favors. It revealed itself up to her last day on earth – thinking and asking about other people rather than looking inward in her own state of woe.”
“She was grace and courage personified.”
And for those in my generation/future generations, I feel that my cousin Kuya Carlo summed it up quite nicely in his recent blog post. An excerpt:
“President Aquino wasn’t your perfect leader. She didn’t know all the numbers. But she did one of the best things in the history of this country. She gave us back our freedom. I believe that it’s because of her that we’re all enjoying life so much these days. In fact, without Cory, I don’t think former Presidents Ramos, Estrada, and even Arroyo would be able to perform as they did in their terms.”
“The next time you go out and enjoy a night with your friends, or you’re surfing for videos on the internet, or even just watching your favorite TV program… pause a while. Remember President Aquino and just thank her for her sacrifice.”
And the people did and will continue to do so.