Philippines remembers late democracy icon Corazon Aquino who led 1986 ‘people power’ revoltBy Jim Gomez, AP
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Philippines remembers late democracy icon Aquino
MANILA, Philippines — Filipinos paid tribute Sunday to democracy icon Corazon Aquino, who helped lead a 1986 “people power” revolt that ousted a dictator and whose death last year became an emotional springboard for her son’s triumphant run for the presidency.
President Benigno Aquino III led one of several tributes to his mother on the first anniversary of her death, calling on Filipinos to continue her struggle for democracy by helping him confront his Southeast Asian nation’s illnesses, including poverty and pervasive corruption.
“The clamor of our people for change is so deep,” Aquino said during a memorial Mass for his mother at a suburban Manila gymnasium used as a venue for many pro-democracy protests. “None of us can afford to be bystanders.”
Aquino called his late mother “one extraordinary woman,” who remains deeply beloved a year after she died at 76 following a yearlong battle with colon cancer. Her death spurred a massive outpouring of national grief that prompted her only son, a quiet lawmaker and bachelor, to run for the presidency, winning by a landslide margin on May 10.
Throngs of people offered prayers, flowers and lit candles Sunday at her white tomb, which is guarded by soldiers. Masses were held across the predominantly Roman Catholic nation in her honor.
A giant photo mosaic of her smiling image was unfurled by her son at Manila’s seaside Rizal park on Saturday. Its makers were considering submitting the mosaic — the size of about 10 basketball courts and made from about 3,200 pictures of the late president — to Guinness World Records for its size.
Fondly called “Tita (Auntie) Cory,” Corazon Aquino is remembered by many Filipinos as the bespectacled, smiling woman in her trademark yellow dress who helped lead a 1986 nonviolent revolt that ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos and swept her to power.
She inherited the mantle of her husband, Benigno Aquino Jr., an opposition senator gunned down by soldiers at Manila’s airport in 1983 upon his return from U.S. exile to challenge Marcos.
After her presidency ended in 1992, Aquino continued to serve as a moral compass by joining street protests to safeguard democracy and advocate against corruption and human rights violations.
She was among those who called for her son’s predecessor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, to resign because of corruption and vote-rigging allegations.
Her son said Sunday that he will proceed with plans for a “Truth Commission” to investigate corruption and vote-rigging allegations against Arroyo despite claims by opponents that the fact-finding body’s establishment was unconstitutional.
Arroyo has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing. She successfully ran for a congressional seat after her turbulent nine years in power ended on June 30.