Saturday, August 1, 2009
The passing of Corazon Aquino
[Picture: Corazon Aquino in 1986 during the People Power movement that lead to the downfall of the regime of dictator Ferdinand Marcos.] Sad news today on the death of former Philippine president Corazon Aquino. The widow of slain democracy activist Benigno Aquino, Cory (as she was known) lead the People Power uprising that ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos from power in 1986, bringing democracy and the promise of human rights to the people of the Philippines. A woman of faith, she was motivated by her strong Catholic convictions into standing up for the rights of the people. A woman who loved her family, she worked to carry on her murdered husband's legacy. A proud patriot who believed in a Republic with the rule of law and respect for each human person, she was a symbol of hope for the millions of people who took to the streets during the People Power movement, ushering in the first of the many revolutions for freedom in the late 1980's. Like Lech Walensa in Poland, she was convinced that her mission to stand for human liberty was part of her vocation as a Christian. After she became president, there were constant coup attempts against her -- questioned as to how she could hold on to preserve the rule of law in the country in the face of such relentless lawlessness, she responded simply, "If the country needs me, God will spare me." She was an example not only to the people of the Philippines, but to freedom-loving people the world over. I remember as a young high school student here in the States watching the news reports of the People Power revolution in the Philippines, and seeing her pride and dignity and determination to vindicate the legitimate rights of the Filipino people. Like the other great leaders of the 1980's -- Ronald Reagan, John Paul II, Margaret Thatcher -- she understood the call of freedom, and the yearning of the human heart to actually be free. Aquino was not a perfect president, and her regime had its fair share of problems. The corruption within Philippine politics was not and could not be removed overnight. But she served the people as best she could, and she always kept in the forefront the interests of her country. She was an example of all who live in challenging times, to all who face choosing to give in to tyranny or to fight -- peacefully, non-violently and in the power of the Gospel -- for liberty and human rights. Maraming salamat po sa inyo, Corazon Aquino.