Corazon Aquino

Corazon Aquino

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Maria Corazon Sumulong Cojuango Aquino, generally known as Cory Aquino, was born January 25, 1933, in Manila into one of the most influential families in the Philippines. Vincent College in New York state.When she completed her studies in the United States, Aquino returned to the Philippines to study law at Far Eastern University, and married Benigno Aquino Jr. She followed him into exile and following his assassination, decided to enter politics as head of the Laban Coalition.In 1986, a sudden call for a presidential election by Ferdinand Marcos pitted Aquino and Marcos in the running. She established the democratically-drafted Freedom Constitution; it was re-drafted in 1986 and ratified in 1987. A government based on popular and democratic mandates was then put into place.Aquino faced repeated military coup attempts and communist insurrection during her presidency. Ramos, Marcos' army chief-of-staff. She has since directed numerous projects that further democracy in Asia.

Person of the Year: A Photo History


Corazon Aquino was named TIME's Person of the Year in 1986

In 1986, Aquino became the first woman to be president of the Philippines, and for that TIME named her its Woman of the Year. A reluctant presidential candidate at the outset, Mrs. Aquino overcame the government's electoral intimidation and rampant fraud to be proclaimed the winner when the populace took to the streets and the defection of Marcos' own associates forced him to flee the country.

"Whatever else happens in her rule," said TIME, "Aquino has already given her country a bright, and inviolate, memory. More important, she has also resuscitated its sense of identity and pride." Despite repeated coup attempts and a mixed record of success, Corazon Aquino remained in office for more than six years. She was succeeded as president by longtime supporter Fidel Ramos when she did not seek reelection in 1992, and she retains her popularity with the Filipino people.

Cory Aquino: President of the Philippines who brought democracy to the islands

When Cory Aquino stepped down after six years as the first woman president of the Philippines, she was widely viewed as having made little impact on her country's deep-rooted social and economic problems.

The moment of her departure from the presidency was a low point in her brief yet quite remarkable political career, leaving as she did in an atmosphere of disenchantment and unrealised hopes. Yet overall, she left a mark on the history of her troubled country, so deep and so lasting that her death will bring a surge of emotion as the heady days of the short but memorable Aquino era are reassessed.

As president of the Republic of the Philippines between 1986 and 1992, she led her country's eventful transition from dictatorship to democracy. In a few turbulent years, she gained a presidency which she had not wanted, and which came to her at the cost of the death of her husband. She was thrust into power by his assassination and by the passion of the millions who took to the streets to sweep away the regime of Ferdinand Marcos.

But in office, she could not bring the Philippines' military fully under control: a number of coups were launched against her, and indeed she was succeeded by a general. But the Philippines never returned to the type of dictatorship she displaced, and she won worldwide acclaim for her commitment to democracy.

Maria Corazon Cojuangco Aquino, popularly called Cory, was born in 1933 into a wealthy family which had for generations been immersed in politics. Most of her education took place in the US, where she took a degree in French and mathematics in New York.

Returning to the Philippines, she married Benigno Aquino, known as Ninoy, who also came from a wealthy political family. At that point, she abandoned her legal studies in order to become, in her words, "just a housewife". She raised five children while her husband spent his career opposing the regime of Marcos, an ex-soldier whose brutality and cunning kept him in power for two decades.

It was during his time ruling this poverty-stricken country that Marcos's wife, Imelda, famously, or infamously, amassed more than 2,000 pairs of shoes in what was seen as a monument to vanity and excess.

When Marcos introduced martial law in 1972, Ninoy and others were thrown in prison on trumped-up charges. In the seven years her husband spent in jail, Aquino came to the forefront, campaigning against his imprisonment.

She acted as his link to the outside world as he kept up his agitation from his prison cell, running for election and at one stage going on hunger strike.

She said of her role: "I am not a hero. As a housewife, I stood by my husband and never questioned his decision to stand alone against an arrogant dictatorship. I never missed a chance to be with my husband when his jailers permitted it. I never chided him for the troubles he brought on my family and their businesses."

When Ninoy was diagnosed with a heart complaint, Marcos allowed the family to travel to the US so that Ninoy could have triple-bypass surgery. After successful surgery, they remained in America, Ninoy taking an academic post at Harvard.

After three years, however, he was persuaded by supporters to return to the Philippines to help lead the opposition. Everyone knew his life was in danger, but few realised that assassins would strike so quickly. Just minutes after his plane landed at the heavily guarded Manila International Airport in August 1983, he was shot dead on the tarmac. Marcos protested his innocence of involvement in the incident, but few believed him.

Uproar followed. Marcos, in ordering such a flagrant killing, showed he had lost much of the guile which had kept him in power. The huge attendance at Ninoy's funeral, and the waves of protests that followed, indicated that his days were numbered.

The shooting removed an opponent of the Marcos regime but created another, even more potent symbol, when Aquino returned to the Philippines and was drawn into political activity. "I know my limitations and I don't like politics," she said. "I was only involved because of my husband."

Marcos, seeing his power slipping away, called a presidential election in 1985 in the hope of shoring up his authority. Anti-Marcos factions were fragmented, but most eventually accepted that Aquino stood the best chance of providing unity. She hesitated, spending 10 hours in meditation at a convent near Manila before deciding to run.

She was to explain later: "We had to present somebody who was the complete opposite of Marcos, someone who has been a victim. Looking around, I may not have been the worst victim, but I was the best-known."

During the campaign, she conveyed the simple but potent message that the time had come for democracy. She was, in her trademark plain-yellow dresses, an ostensibly insignificant figure, but she was a powerful human reminder of Marcos's use of violence.

In the election, Marcos, resorting to vote-rigging, declared himself the victor before all votes were counted. The move was so brazen that it provoked an uprising in which millions took to the streets. At this point, many of the major power elements concluded that Marcos's time was over. Aquino had support from sources such as the Catholic church, while some important army officers abandoned Marcos and aligned themselves with her.

Washington, too, dropped Marcos. Ronald Reagan had followed previous administrations in regarding Marcos as a "Pacific strongman" who provided a useful bulwark against communism. In doing so, the US had tended to ignore his regime's corruption and breaches of human rights.

But the Ninoy assassination and the election-fixing lost him the sponsorship of Washington, though the US did supply helicopters to whisk Marcos and Imelda into exile (most of her shoes were left behind).

"We are finally free," Aquino declared at the time. "The long agony is over." She was fêted around the world, Time magazine saying of her: "She managed to lead a revolt and rule a republic without ever relinquishing her calm or her gift for making politics and humanity companionable. In a nation dominated for decades by a militant brand of macho politics, she conquered with tranquillity and grace."

But in the years of her presidency, little went right for her as moral strength failed to translate into the sufficient political acumen to tackle the huge problems of the Philippines. Her husband had, in fact, predicted that whoever succeeded Marcos was doomed to fail. He would not for a moment, however, have thought that the successor would be his wife, whose administration was overwhelmed by massive economic difficulties. These included grinding poverty and the legacy of two decades of totalitarian rule. An earthquake and an erupting volcano added to her woes.

She had herself referred to her country as "the basket case of South-East Asia". But while Marcos had been firm – to the point of brutality – her government was thought of as hesitant and indecisive.

One area in which she did display firmness, however, was in her relations with the army: she had little choice, since various elements launched no fewer than seven coup attempts against her in three years. With the help of generals who remained loyal to her, she faced down all of these: the irony was that a woman who came to power on a platform of peace should have to devote so much effort to fending off recurring violent challenges.

But she was cool under fire, and she indignantly sued when a journalist claimed she had taken refuge under a bed during one attack.

Her personal chief of security, Colonel Voltaire Gazmin, recently testified that she was steady under pressure. "I vividly remember the coup attempt of August 1987," he wrote. "I was out supervising the placement of armour around the palace when bursts of gunfire rang out. I rushed to the official residence and found the president and her family upstairs. I asked them to go downstairs and turn off all the lights, and instructed my guards to stand mattresses against the windows.

"I then made a head count and found one missing. I went back upstairs and noticed light coming through the open bathroom door. It was the president combing her hair."

The colonel said that when he begged her to leave, she replied that she needed to look "presidentially presentable". She was, he said, "the calmest soul around".

Although none of the coup attempts was successful, they eroded confidence in her administration. After so many unhappy economic and military experiences, she decided not to seek re-election and backed a loyal general, Fidel Ramos, who succeeded her as president. She was disappointed by her government's performance, but took consolation in the fact that the administration which succeeded hers was installed by a democratic vote.

She will thus be remembered both for the manner of her assuming office and for the manner of her vacating it.

Cory Aquino, former president of the Republic of the Philippines: born Paniqui, Philippines 25 January 1933 married 1954 Benigno Aquino (died 1983 one son, four daughters) died Makati City, Philippines 1 August 2009.

Famous Women in History: Corazon Aquino

In our ongoing series #WomenThatDid ENTITY profiles inspirational and famous women in history whose impact on our world can still be felt today. If you have a suggestion for a historical powerhouse you would like to see featured tweet us with the hashtag #WomenThatDid.

Name: Corazon Aquino

Lifetime: January 25, 1933 – August 1, 2009

What She Is Known For: Corazon Aquino was a Filipina politician, who became the 11th president of the Philippines, the first woman to hold the office and the first female president in Asia. She was the most prominent figure involved in the 1986 People Power Revolution, which ended the 21-year long authoritarian rule. It restored democracy to the Philippines and because of this, she became TIME’s “Woman of the Year.”

Why We Love Her: Aquino graduated valedictorian from her class before her family moved to the United States. There she graduated from College of Mount Saint Vincent in New York and worked on a Republican presidential candidate’s campaign. She returned to the Philippines to study law, but left school when she married Benigno Aquino, Jr. They had five children and after living in the United States and Manila, found it difficult to adjust to provincial life.

However, she was always adamant that she was a self-proclaimed “plain housewife.” Her husband was a prominent government official who served both as governor and senator. Unknown to most, she sold off her inheritance to fund his campaigns.

When martial law was declared in 1972, her husband was among the first arrested. After eight years in prison, President Jimmy Carter intervened and urged the Filipino president to allow the family to live in exile in the United States. Three years later, her husband returned to the Philippines and was assassinated as he exited the plane at the airport. She returned a few days later and led a funeral procession of two million attendees. After this, she emerged as a leader in the movement.

When Aquino lost the 1985 election amidst allegations of fraud, she led a three-day peaceful protest. Then, after being sworn in as president on Feb. 25, 1986, she immediately drew up plans for a new constitution that focused on civil liberties, human rights and social justice issues. It also aimed to limit the power of the executive branch and to reestablish the bicameral Congress.

When her term was due to end in 1992, a legal loophole allowed her to run again. She declined and led the first peaceful transition of power in June 1992. She remained active in the political arena, helping ensure that the Philippines remained a democracy.

She died of cancer in 2009 and a ten-day mourning period was announced. She was revered as the “mother of Philippine democracy” and “the housewife who led a revolution.” However, she remained adamant that it was the Philippine people that restored democracy, not her.

Fun Fact: In 1985, Aquino ran for president against the incumbent after receiving a petition with one million signatures calling for her election. The then president was in failing health and was said to have let his wife run most of the government. Despite this, he attacked Aquino’s lack of government experience. In response, Aquino simply said: “May the better woman win in this election.”


Bacani, C. (n.d.). Essential Cory Aquino. [online] Cory Aquino Official Website. Available at: [Accessed 5 Sep. 2014]., (2009). Former President Corazon “Tita Cory” Aquino passes away at 76. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 Sep. 2014].

Banaag, J. (2010). Paris swooned over ‘la dame en jaune’ in ’89. [online] Philippine Daily Inquirer. Available at: [Accessed 5 Sep. 2014].

Burton, S. (1999). Corazon Aquino. [online] TIME. Available at: [Accessed 5 Sep. 2014].

College of Mount Saint Vincent, (n.d.). Corazon Aquino, Former President of the Philippines. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 Sep. 2014].

Magill, F. (2013). The 20th Century A-GI: Dictionary of World Biography, Volume 7. 1st ed. p.86.

Orosa, R. (2009). When Cory parlezvous-ed. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 Sep. 2014].

Tayao, A. (2010). Scholasticans keep Cory legacy alive. [online] Inquirer Lifestyle. Available at: [Accessed 5 Sep. 2014].

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Aquino was born María Corazón Sumulong Cojuangco on 25 January 1933 in Paniqui, Tarlac. [7] Her father was José Cojuangco, a prominent Tarlac businessman and former congressman, and her mother was Demetria Sumulong, a pharmacist. Both of Aquino's parents were from prominent political families. Aquino's grandfather from her father's side, Melecio Cojuangco, was a member of the historic Malolos Congress, and Aquino's mother belonged to the politically influential Sumulong family of Rizal province, which included Juan Sumulong, who ran against Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon in 1941. Aquino was the sixth of eight children, two of whom died in infancy. Her siblings were Pedro, Josephine, Teresita, Jose Jr., and Maria Paz. [8]

Aquino spent her elementary school days at St. Scholastica's College in Manila, where she graduated at the top of her class as valedictorian. She transferred to Assumption Convent to pursue high school studies. After her family moved to the United States, she attended the Assumption-run Ravenhill Academy in Philadelphia. She then transferred to Notre Dame Convent School in New York City, where she graduated from in 1949. During her high school years in the United States, Aquino volunteered for the campaign of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Thomas Dewey against Democratic incumbent U.S. President Harry S. Truman during the 1948 United States presidential election. [8] After graduating from high school, she pursued her college education at the College of Mount Saint Vincent in New York, graduating in 1953 with a major in French and minor in mathematics.

After graduating from college, she returned to the Philippines and studied law at Far Eastern University in 1953. [9] While attending, she met Benigno "Ninoy" S. Aquino Jr., who was the son of the late Speaker Benigno S. Aquino Sr. and a grandson of General Servillano Aquino. She discontinued her law education and married Benigno in Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Pasay on 11 October 1954. [10] The couple raised five children: Maria Elena ("Ballsy" born 1955), Aurora Corazon ("Pinky" born 1957), Benigno Simeon III ("Noynoy" 1960–2021), Victoria Elisa ("Viel" born 1961) and Kristina Bernadette ("Kris" born 1971). [11] [12]

Aquino had initially had difficulty adjusting to provincial life when she and her husband moved to Concepcion, Tarlac, in 1955. Aquino found herself bored in Concepcion, and welcomed the opportunity to have dinner with her husband inside the American military facility at nearby Clark Field. [13] Afterwards, the Aquino family moved to a bungalow in suburban Quezon City.

Throughout her life, Aquino was known to be a devout Roman Catholic. [9]

Corazon Aquino was fluent in French, Japanese, Spanish, and English aside from her native Tagalog and Kapampangan. [9]

Corazon Aquino's husband Benigno Aquino Jr., a member of the Liberal Party, rose to become the youngest governor in the country in 1961 and then the youngest senator ever elected to the Senate of the Philippines in 1967. For most of her husband's political career, Aquino remained a housewife who raised their children and hosted her spouse's political allies who would visit their Quezon City home. [14] She would decline to join her husband on stage during campaign rallies, instead preferring to be in the back of the audience and listen to him. [13] Unbeknownst to many at the time, Corazon Aquino sold some of her prized inheritance to fund the candidacy of her husband.

As Benigno Aquino Jr. emerged as a leading critic of the government of President Ferdinand Marcos, he became seen as a strong candidate for president to succeed Marcos in the 1973 elections. However, Marcos, who was barred by the 1935 Constitution to seek a third term, declared martial law on 21 September 1972 and later abolished the constitution, thereby allowing him to remain in office. Benigno Aquino Jr. was among the first to be arrested at the onset of martial law, and was later sentenced to death. During her husband's incarceration, Corazon Aquino stopped going to beauty salons or buying new clothes and prohibited her children from attending parties, until a priest advised her and her children to try to live as normal lives as possible. [13]

Despite Corazon's initial opposition, Benigno Aquino Jr. decided to run in the 1978 Batasang Pambansa elections from his prison cell as party leader of the newly created LABAN. Corazon Aquino campaigned on behalf of her husband and delivered a political speech for the first time in her life during this political campaign. In 1980 Benigno Aquino Jr. suffered a heart attack, and Marcos allowed Senator Aquino and his family to leave for exile in the United States upon intervention from U.S. President Jimmy Carter so that Aquino could seek medical treatment. [15] [16] The family settled in Boston, and Corazon Aquino would later recall the next three years as the happiest days of her marriage and family life. On 21 August 1983, Benigno Aquino Jr. ended his stay in the United States and returned without his family to the Philippines, where he was immediately assassinated on a staircase leading to the tarmac of Manila International Airport. The airport is now named Ninoy Aquino International Airport, renamed by the Congress in his honor in 1987. Corazon Aquino returned to the Philippines a few days later and led her husband's funeral procession, in which more than two million people participated. [15]

Following her husband's assassination in 1983, Corazon Aquino became active in various demonstrations held against the Marcos regime. She began to assume the mantle of leadership left by her husband and became a figurehead of the anti-Marcos political opposition. On 3 November 1985, during an interview with American journalist David Brinkley on This Week with David Brinkley, Marcos suddenly announced snap elections that would be held within three months to dispel doubt against his regime's legitimate authority, an action that surprised the nation. [17] The election was later scheduled to be held on 7 February 1986. A petition was organized to urge Aquino to run for president, headed by former newspaper publisher Joaquin Roces. [18] On 1 December, the petition of 1.2 million signatures was publicly presented to Aquino in an event attended by 15,000 people, and on 3 December, Aquino officially declared her candidacy. [19] United Opposition (UNIDO) party leader Salvador Laurel was chosen as Aquino's running mate as candidate for vice president.

During the campaign, Marcos attacked Corazon Aquino on her husband's previous ties to communists, [20] characterizing the election as a fight "between democracy and communism". [21] Aquino refuted Marcos' charge and stated that she would not appoint a single communist to her cabinet. [22] Marcos also accused Aquino of playing "political football" with the United States in regards to the continued United States military presence in the Philippines at Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Base. [23] Another point of attack for Marcos was Aquino's inexperience in public office. Marcos' campaign was characterized by sexist attacks, such as remarks by Marcos that Aquino was "just a woman" and that a woman's remarks should be limited to the bedroom. [24] [15]

The snap election was held on 7 February 1986, and was marred by massive electoral fraud, violence, intimidation, coercion, and disenfranchisement of voters. On 11 February, while votes were still being tabulated, former Antique province Governor and director of Aquino's campaign in Antique Evelio Javier was assassinated. During the tallying of votes conducted by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), 30 poll computer technicians walked out to contest the alleged election-rigging being done in favor of Marcos. Years later it was claimed that the walkout of computer technicians was led by Linda Kapunan, [25] wife of Lt Col Eduardo Kapunan, a leader of Reform the Armed Forces Movement that plotted to attack the Malacañang Palace and kill Marcos and his family, leading to a partial reevaluation of the walkout event. [26] [27]

On 15 February 1986, the Batasang Pambansa, which was dominated by Marcos' ruling party and its allies, declared President Marcos as the winner of the election. However, NAMFREL's electoral count showed that Corazon Aquino had won. Aquino claimed victory according to NAMFREL's electoral count and called for a rally dubbed "Tagumpay ng Bayan" (People's Victory Rally) the following day to protest the declaration by the Batasang Pambansa. Aquino also called for boycotts against products and services from companies controlled or owned by individuals closely allied with Marcos. The rally was held at the historic Rizal Park in Luneta, Manila and drew a pro-Aquino crowd of around two million people. The dubious election results drew condemnation from both domestic and foreign powers. The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines issued a statement strongly criticizing the conduct of the election, describing the election as violent and fraudulent. The United States Senate likewise condemned the election. [14] [28] Aquino rejected a power-sharing agreement proposed by the American diplomat Philip Habib, who had been sent as an emissary by U.S. President Ronald Reagan to help defuse the tension. [28]

Accession as president Edit

On 22 February 1986, disgruntled and reformist military officers led by Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and General Fidel V. Ramos surprised the nation and the international community by the announcement of their defection from the Marcos government, citing a strong belief that Aquino was the real winner in the contested presidential election. Enrile, Ramos, and the rebel soldiers then set up operations in Camp Aguinaldo, the headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and Camp Crame, the headquarters of the Philippine Constabulary, across Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA). Cardinal Sin appealed to the public in a broadcast over Church-run Radyo Veritas, and millions of Filipinos gathered to the part of Epifanio De Los Santos Avenue between the two camps to give their support and prayers to the rebels. [29] At that time, Aquino was meditating in a Carmelite convent in Cebu. Upon learning of the defection, Aquino and Cardinal Sin appeared on Radyo Vertias to rally behind Minister Enrile and General Ramos. Aquino then flew back to Manila to prepare for the takeover of the government.

After three days of peaceful mass protests primarily centered at EDSA called the People Power Revolution, Aquino was sworn in as the eleventh president of the Philippines on 25 February 1986. [30] An hour after Aquino's inauguration, Marcos held his own inauguration ceremony at the Malacañang Palace. Later that same day, Ferdinand E. Marcos fled the Philippines to Hawaii. [31]

Corazon Aquino's accession to the presidency marked the end of authoritarian rule in the Philippines. Aquino is the first female president of the Philippines and is still the only president of the Philippines to have never held any prior political position. Aquino is regarded as the first female president in Asia.

Transitional government and creation of new constitution Edit

Presidential styles of
Corazon C. Aquino
Reference styleHer Excellency
Spoken styleYour Excellency
Alternative styleMadam President

On 25 February 1986, the first day of her administration, Aquino issued Proclamation No. 1, which announced an intention to reorganize the government and called on all officials appointed by Marcos to resign, starting with members of the Supreme Court. [32] On 25 March 1986, President Aquino issued Proclamation No. 3, which announced a transitional government into a democratic system. She abolished the 1973 Constitution that was in force during the martial law era, and by decree issued the provisional 1986 Freedom Constitution, pending the ratification of a more formal and comprehensive charter. This constitutional allowed her to exercise both executive and legislative powers during the period of transitional government.

After the issuance of Proclamation No. 1, all 15 members of the Supreme Court submitted their resignations. [33] Aquino then reorganized the membership of the Supreme Court with the stated purpose of restoring its judicial independence. On 22 May 1986, in the case Lawyers League v. President Aquino, the reorganized Supreme Court declared the Aquino government as "not merely a de facto government but in fact and law a de jure government", and affirmed its legitimacy. [34]

Aquino appointed all 48 members of the 1986 Constitutional Commission ("Con-Com"), led by retired activist and former Supreme Court Associate Justice Cecilia Muñoz-Palma, which was tasked with writing a new constitution. The Commission completed its final draft of the Constitution in October 1986. [35]

On 2 February 1987, the Constitution of the Philippines was ratified by nationwide plebiscite. It remains the constitution of the Philippines to the present day. The Constitution established a bill of rights and a three-branch government consisting of the executive department, the legislative department, and the judicial department. The Constitution restored the bicameral Congress, which in 1973 had been abolished by Marcos and replaced with first the Batasang Bayan and later the Batasang Pambansa. [36] The ratification of the new Constitution was soon followed by the election of senators and the election of House of Representatives members on 11 May 1987, as well as local elections on 18 January 1988.

Legal reforms Edit

After the ratification of the constitution, Aquino promulgated two landmark legal codes, namely, the Family Code of 1987, which reformed the civil law on family relations, and the Administrative Code of 1987, which reorganized the structure of the executive department of government. Another landmark law that was enacted during her tenure was the 1991 Local Government Code, which devolved national government powers to local government units (LGUs). The new Code enhanced the power of LGUs to enact local taxation measures and assured them of a share in the national revenue.

During Aquino's tenure, vital economic laws such as the Built-Operate-Transfer Law, Foreign Investments Act, and the Consumer Protection and Welfare Act were also enacted.

Socio-economic policies Edit

Economy of the Philippines under
President Corazon Aquino
Population [37] [38]
1986 56 million
Gross Domestic Product (constant 1985 prices) [37] [38]
1986 Php 591,423 million
1991 Php 716,522 million
Real GDP growth (% change) [39]
1986 3.4%
1987 4.3%
1988 6.8%
1989 6.2%
1990 3.0%
1991 -0.4%
1992 0.4%
Average yearly growth rate, 1986-92 3.4%
Per capita income (constant 1985 prices) [37] [38]
1986 Php 10,622
1991 Php 11,250
Total exports [37] [38]
1986 Php 160,571 million
1991 Php 231,515 million
Exchange rates [37] [38]
19861 USD = 20.38 Php
1 Php = 0.05 USD
19911 USD = 27.61 Php
1 Php = 0.04 USD

The economy posted a positive growth of 3.4% during Aquino's first year in office, and continued to grow at an overall positive rate throughout her tenure for an average rate of 3.4% from 1986 to 1992. Real GDP growth suffered a 0.4% decrease in 1991 in the aftermath of the 1989 coup attempt by the Reform the Armed Forces Movement, which shook international confidence in the Philippine economy and hindered foreign investment.

Aquino made fighting inflation one of her priorities after the nation suffered from skyrocketing prices during the last years of the Marcos administration. The last 6 years of the Marcos administration recorded an average annual inflation rate of 20.9%, which peaked in 1984 at 50.3%. From 1986 to 1992, the Philippines recorded an average annual inflation rate of 9.2%. During the Aquino administration, the annual inflation rate peaked at 18.1% in 1991 a stated reason for this increase was panic buying during the Gulf War. [40] [41] Overall, the economy under Aquino had an average growth of 3.8% from 1986 to 1992. [42]

De-monopolization Edit

One of Aquino's first actions as president was to seize Marcos' multi-billion dollar fortune of ill-gotten wealth. On 28 February 1986, four days into her presidency, Aquino formed the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), which was tasked with retrieving Marcos' domestic and international fortune.

After his declaration of martial law in 1972 and his consolidation of authoritarian power, President Ferdinand Marcos issued various government decrees that awarded monopoly or oligopoly power over entire industries to various close associates, in a scheme later regarded as crony capitalism. [43] President Aquino pursued a market liberalization agenda to combat this problem. President Aquino particularly targeted the sugar industry and the coconut industry for de-monopolization.

Debt Edit

Throughout the tenure of President Ferdinand Marcos, government foreign debt had ballooned from less than $3 billion in 1970 to $28 billion by the end of his administration, through privatization of bad government assets and deregulation of many vital industries. The debt had badly tarnished the international credit standing and economic reputation of the country.

President Aquino inherited the debt of the Marcos administration and weighed all options on what to do with the debt, including not paying the debt. Aquino eventually chose to honor all the debts that were previously incurred in order to clear the country's economic reputation. Her decision proved to be unpopular but Aquino defended it, saying that was the most practical move. Beginning in 1986, the Aquino administration paid off $4 billion of the country's outstanding debts to improve its international credit ratings and attract the attention of foreign investors. This move also ensured lower interest rates and longer payment terms for future loans. During the Aquino administration, the Philippines acquired an additional $9 billion debt, increasing the net national debt by $5 billion within six years due to the need to infuse capital and money into the economy. [44] The Aquino administration was able to reduce the Philippines' external debt-to-GDP ratio by 30.1 percent, from 87.9 percent at the start of the administration to 67.8 percent in 1991. [45]

Agrarian reform Edit

President Aquino envisioned agrarian and land reform as the centerpiece of her administration's social legislative agenda. However, her family background and social class as a privileged daughter of a wealthy and landed clan became a lightning rod of criticisms against her land reform agenda.

After the Mendiola Massacre and in response to calls for agrarian reform, President Aquino issued Presidential Proclamation 131 and Executive Order 229 on 22 July 1987, which outlined her land reform program, including sugar lands. In 1988, with the backing of Aquino, the new Congress of the Philippines passed Republic Act No. 6657, more popularly known as the "Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law" (CARP), which paved the way for the redistribution of agricultural lands from landowners to tenant-farmers. Landowners were paid in exchange by the government through just compensation, and were also not allowed to retain more than five hectares of land. [46] The law also allowed corporate landowners to "voluntarily divest a proportion of their capital stock, equity or participation in favor of their workers or other qualified beneficiaries", in lieu of turning over their land to the government for redistribution. [47] Despite the flaws in the law, the Supreme Court upheld its constitutionality in 1989, declaring that the implementation of CARP was "a revolutionary kind of expropriation." [48]

Corazon Aquino herself was subject to a controversy that centered on Hacienda Luisita, a 6,453-hectare estate located in the Province of Tarlac which she and her siblings inherited from her father José Cojuangco. Instead of land distribution, Hacienda Luisita reorganized itself into a corporation and distributed stock. As such, ownership of agricultural portions of the hacienda was transferred to the corporation, which in turn, gave its shares of stocks to farmers. Critics argued that Aquino bowed to pressure from relatives by allowing stock redistribution in lieu of land redistribution under CARP. [49]

The stock redistribution scheme was revoked in 2006, when the Department of Agrarian Reform ordered the mandatory redistribution of land to tenant-farmers of Hacienda Luisita. The Department of Agrarian Reform had looked into its revocation since 2004, when violence erupted in the Hacienda over the retrenchment of workers, leaving seven people dead. [49]

Coup attempts on Aquino government Edit

From 1986 to 1990 numerous coup attempts were enacted on the Aquino administration and the new Philippine government. Many of these attempts were conducted by the Reform the Armed Forces Movement, who attempted to establish a military government, while other attempts were conducted by loyalists to former President Marcos.

Mendiola massacre and cabinet infighting Edit

On 22 January 1987, during the era of transition government and shortly before the nationwide plebiscite to ratify the Constitution, 12 citizens were killed and 51 were injured in the Mendiola Massacre. The incident was initially a peaceful protest by agrarian workers and farmers who had marched to the historic Mendiola Street near the Malacañan Palace to demand genuine land reform. The massacre occurred when Marines fired at farmers who tried to go beyond the designated demarcation line set by the police. [50] The massacre resulted in several resignations from Aquino's cabinet, including Jose Diokno, head of the Presidential Committee on Human Rights, chairman of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), and chairman of the government panel in charge of negotiations with rebel forces resigned from his government posts. His daughter Maris said, "It was the only time we saw him near tears." [51]

In September 1987, Vice President Doy Laurel resigned as Secretary of Foreign Affairs. In his resignation letter to Aquino, Laurel stated, ". the past years of Marcos are now beginning to look no worse than your first two years in office. And the reported controversies and scandals involving your closest relatives have become the object of our people's outrage. From 16,500 NPA regular when Marcos fell, the communists now claim an armed strength of 25,200. From city to countryside, anarchy has spread. There is anarchy within the government, anarchy within the ruling coalesced parties and anarchy in the streets." [52]

Finance Minister Jaime Ongpin, who had successfully advocated for paying external debt incurred during Marcos' administration, was dismissed by Aquino in September 1987 and later died in an apparent suicide in December 1987. [53] His widow stated that he had been depressed due to infighting in Aquino's cabinet and lack of significant change since the People Power Revolution. [54]

Soon after the Mendiola Massacre, the Aquino administration and Congress worked to pass significant agrarian reform, which culminated in the passage of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARP).

Peace talks with Moro and communist insurgencies Edit

President Aquino conducted peace talks with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), an armed Moro Muslim insurgency group that sought to establish an independent Moro state within Mindanao. Aquino met with MNLF leader Nur Misuari and various MNLF groups in Sulu. In 1989, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) was created under Republic Act No. 6734 or the ARMM Organic Act, which established the Moro majority areas in the Mindanao island group as an autonomous region with its own government. [55] The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao lasted from 1989 to 2019, after which it was succeeded by the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

The establishment of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao was opposed by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a militant splinter group from the MNLF that sought to secede from the Philippines to establish an Islamic state in Mindanao. [56] Peace talks with MILF began in 1997 under President Fidel Ramos and violent insurgency officially continued until 2014, when peace accords were formally signed between MILF and the administration of President Benigno Aquino III that would lead to the creation of the BARMM. [57]

The establishment of the ARMM also led to the establishment of Abu Sayyaf, a terrorist group founded in 1989 by Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani and composed of radical former members of the MNLF. Terrorist attacks by Abu Sayyaf would start in 1995 and continue to the present day, including the 2004 bombing of the MV Superferry 14 that resulted in the death of 116 people. [58]

Shortly after becoming president, Aquino ordered the release of hundreds of political prisoners imprisoned during the Marcos era, including communist insurgents belonging to the Communist Party of the Philippines. These releases included leaders such as Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison and New People's Army founder Bernabe Buscayno. [59] Preliminary peace talks with the CPP ended after the Mendiola Massacre on 22 January 1987, which had allegedly included New People's Army members amongst the 12 killed. [60] [61]

Closing of United States military bases Edit

Soon after Aquino took office, several Philippine senators declared that the presence of U.S. military forces in the Philippines was an affront to national sovereignty. The senators called for the United States military to vacate U.S. Naval Base Subic Bay and Clark Air Base, and Aquino opposed their demand. [62] The United States objected by stating that they had leased the property and that the leases were still in effect. [63] The United States stated that the facilities at Subic Bay were unequaled anywhere in Southeast Asia and a U.S. pullout could make all of that region of the world vulnerable to an incursion by the Soviet Union or by a resurgent Japan. Another issue with the demand was that thousands of Filipinos worked at these military facilities and they would lose their jobs if the U.S. military moved out. Aquino opposed the Senate's demand and believed that the bases should have remained. Aquino organization a protest against the pullout, which only gathered between 100,000 and 150,000 supporters, far short of the 500,000 to 1 million that had been originally expected. [64]

The matter was still being debated when Mount Pinatubo erupted in June 1991, covering the entire area with volcanic ash. Despite attempts to continue the Subic Base, Aquino finally conceded. In December 1991, the government served notice that the U.S. had to close the base by the end of 1992. [65]

Natural disasters and calamities Edit

On 20 December 1987, the MV Doña Paz sank after a collision with the oil tanker MV Vector. The final death toll exceeded 4,300 people, and the sinking has been called the deadliest peacetime maritime disaster of the 20th century. [66] In the aftermath, Aquino addressed the incident as "a national tragedy of harrowing proportions." [67]

The 1990 Luzon earthquake was a 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck the island of Luzon. It left an estimate of 1,621 people dead and massive property damage.

In 1991, a volcanic eruption of Mount Pinatubo, then thought to be dormant, killed around 800 people and caused widespread long-term devastation of agricultural lands in Central Luzon. [68] Around 20,000 residents had to be evacuated and around 10,000 people were left homeless by the event. It was the second largest terrestrial eruption of the 20th century.

On 1 November 1991 Tropical Storm Thelma (also known as Typhoon Uring) caused massive flooding in Ormoc City, leaving around 5,000 dead in what was then considered to be the deadliest typhoon in Philippine history. On 8 November, Aquino declared all of Leyte a disaster area. [69]

Electrical power grid inadequacy Edit

During Aquino's presidency, electric blackouts became common in Manila. The city experienced 7–12 hours-long blackouts, which severely affected its businesses. By the departure of Aquino in June 1992, businesses in Manila and nearby provinces had lost nearly $800 million since the preceding March.

Corazon Aquino's decision to deactivate the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP), which was built during the Marcos administration, contributed to further electricity crises in the 1990s, as the 620 megawatts capacity of the plant would have been enough to cover the shortfall at that time. [70] Critics of the BNPP had stated that the power plant was unsafe, and cited the millions of dollars in bribes paid to President Marcos to allow its construction. [70] The administration had failed to provide for an adequate replacement for the plant before her term had completed, and President Corazon Aquino ended her term in 1992 with the country reeling under a severe power shortage crisis. [71] [72]

Influence in 1992 presidential campaign Edit

In large part due to Marcos' excesses, the 1987 Constitution limited the president to a single six-year term with no possibility of re-election. As the end of her presidency drew near, close advisers and friends told Aquino that since she was not inaugurated under the 1987 Constitution, she was still eligible to seek the presidency again in the upcoming 1992 elections, the first presidential elections held under normal and peaceful circumstances since 1965. However, Aquino strongly declined the requests for her to seek reelection, citing her strong belief that the presidency was not a lifetime position.

Initially, she named Ramon V. Mitra, Speaker of the Philippine House of Representatives who had been a friend of her husband, as her preferred candidate for the 1992 presidential elections. However, she later backtracked and instead supported the candidacy of General Fidel V. Ramos, who was her defense secretary and a key figure in the EDSA Revolution. Ramos had consistently stood by her government during the various coup attempts that were launched against her administration. Her sudden change of mind and withdrawal of support from Mitra drew criticism from her supporters in the liberal and social democratic sectors. Her decision also drew criticism from the Catholic Church, which questioned her support of Ramos due to his being a Protestant. General Ramos won the 1992 elections with 23.58% of the total votes in a wide-open campaign.

On 30 June 1992, Corazon Aquino formally and peacefully handed over power to Fidel Ramos. On that day, Fidel V. Ramos was inaugurated as the twelfth president of the Philippines. After the inauguration, Aquino left the ceremony in a simple white Toyota Crown she had purchased, rather than the lavish government-issued Mercedes Benz in which she and Ramos had ridden on the way to the ceremonies, to make the point that she was once again an ordinary citizen. [73]

Domestic Edit

During Aquino's retirement and stay as a private citizen, she remained active in the Philippine political scene. Aquino would voice her dissent to government actions and policies that she deemed threats to the democratic foundations of the country.

In 1997, Aquino, together with Cardinal Jaime Sin, led a rally opposing President Fidel Ramos' attempt to extend his term through his proposal to amend the 1987 Constitution's restriction on presidential term limits. Ramos' proposed charter change would fail, leaving term limits and the presidential system in place.

During the 1998 Philippine presidential election, Aquino endorsed the candidacy of former police general and Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim from the Liberal Party for president. Lim would lose to Vice President Joseph Estrada, who won by a landslide. [74] In 1999, Aquino and Cardinal Jaime Sin again worked together to oppose a second plan to amend the Constitution to remove term limits, this time under President Estrada. President Estrada stated that his plan to amend the Constitution was intended to lift provisions that 'restrict' economic activities and investments, and Estrada denied that it was an attempt to extend his stay in office. Estrada's proposed charter change would also fail.

In 2000, Aquino joined the mounting calls for Estrada to resign from office, amid a series of corruption scandals, including strong allegations of bribery charges and gambling kickbacks. Estrada was impeached by the House of Representatives in November 2000 but acquitted by the Senate in December, which in January 2001 led to the Second EDSA Revolution, which ousted Estrada. During the Second EDSA Revolution, Aquino enthusiastically supported the ascendancy of Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to the position of president. [75] In the subsequent trial of Joseph Estrada, Estrada was acquitted of perjury but found guilty of plunder and sentenced to reclusion perpetua with the accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification from public office and forfeiture of ill-gotten wealth on 12 September 2007. Estrada was pardoned by President Macapagal-Arroyo on 26 October 2007.

In 2005, after a series of revelations and exposes that implicated President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in rigging the 2004 presidential elections, Aquino called on Arroyo to resign in order to prevent bloodshed, violence and further political deterioration. [76] Aquino once again led massive street-level demonstrations, this time demanding the resignation of President Arroyo. [77]

During the 2007 senatorial elections, Aquino actively campaigned for her only son, Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, who went on to win his race. Less than a year after Corazon Aquino's death in 2009, Benigno Aquino III won the 2010 Philippine presidential election and served as the 15th president of the Philippines from 2010 to 2016.

In December 2008, Corazon Aquino publicly expressed regret for her participation in the 2001 Second EDSA Revolution, which installed Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as president. She apologized to former President Joseph Estrada for the role she played in his ouster in 2001. [78] Aquino's apology drew criticisms from numerous politicians. [79] In June 2009, two months before her death, Aquino issued a public statement in which she strongly denounced and condemned the Arroyo administration's plans of amending the 1987 Constitution, calling it a "shameless abuse of power."

International Edit

Shortly after leaving the presidency, Aquino traveled abroad, giving speeches and lectures on issues of democracy, development, human rights, and women empowerment. At the 1994 meeting of the UNESCO World Commission on Culture and Development in Manila, Aquino delivered a speech urging the unconditional release of Burmese democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi from detention. Until her death in 2009, Aquino would continue to petition for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi.

Aquino was a member of the Council of Women World Leaders, an international organization of former and current female heads of state, from the group's inception in 1996 to her death.

In 1997, Aquino attended the wake and funeral of Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta, whom she met during the latter's visit in Manila in 1989. In 2005, Aquino joined the international community in mourning the death of Pope John Paul II. [ citation needed ]

In 2002, Aquino became the first woman named to the Board of Governors at the Asian Institute of Management, a leading graduate business school and think tank in the Asia Pacific region. [80] She served on the Board until 2006. [81]

Charitable and social initiatives Edit

After her term as president, Aquino was involved in several charitable activities and socio-economic initiatives. From 1992 until her death, Aquino was chairperson of the Benigno S. Aquino, Jr. Foundation, which she set up in her husband's honor after his assassination in 1983. Aquino supported the Gawad Kalinga social housing project for the poor and homeless. In 2007, Aquino helped establish the PinoyME Foundation, a non-profit organization that aims to provide microfinancing programs and projects for the poor. Aquino also painted, and would occasionally give away her paintings to friends and family or auction her paintings and donate the proceeds to charity. She never sold her art for her own profit. [82]

On 24 March 2008, Aquino's family announced that the former president had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Upon her being earlier informed by her doctors that she had only three months to live, [83] she pursued medical treatment and chemotherapy. A series of healing Masses for Aquino, who was a devout Catholic, were held throughout the country for her recovery. In a public statement during one healing Mass on 13 May 2008, Aquino said that her blood tests indicated that she was responding well to treatment, although her hair and appetite loss were apparent. [84]

By July 2009, Aquino was reported to be suffering from loss of appetite and in very serious condition. At that time she was confined to Makati Medical Center. [85] It was later announced that Aquino and her family had decided to stop chemotherapy and other medical interventions for her. [86] [87]

Aquino died in the Makati Medical Center at 3:18 a.m. on 1 August 2009 due to cardiorespiratory arrest at the age of 76. [88]

Wake and funeral Edit

On the day of Aquino's passing, then-incumbent President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo announced a 10-day mourning period for the former president and issued Administrative Order No. 269 detailing the necessary arrangements for a state funeral. [90] Arroyo was on a state visit to the United States at the time of Aquino's passing and returned to the Philippines on 5 August, cutting her visit short to pay her last respects to Aquino. [91] [92] Aquino's children declined Arroyo's offer of a state funeral for their mother. [93]

All churches in the Philippines celebrated requiem masses simultaneously throughout the country and all government offices flew the Philippine flag at half-mast. Hours after her death, Aquino's body lay in repose for public viewing at the La Salle Green Hills campus in Mandaluyong. On 3 August 2009, Aquino's body was transferred from La Salle Greenhills to Manila Cathedral in Intramuros, during which hundreds of thousands of Filipinos lined the streets to view and escort the former leader's body. On the way to the cathedral, Aquino's funeral cortege passed along Ayala Avenue in Makati, stopping in front of the monument to her husband Ninoy, where throngs of mourners gathered and sang the patriotic protest anthem "Bayan Ko " . [94] Aquino's casket was brought inside the Cathedral by mid-afternoon that day. Following her death, all Roman Catholic dioceses in the country held Requiem Masses. [95]

On 4 August 2009, Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. and Imee Marcos, two prominent children of late former President Ferdinand Marcos, paid their last respects to Aquino in spite of the two families' longstanding feud. The Marcos siblings were received by Aquino's daughters María Elena, Aurora Corazon, and Victoria Elisa. [96]

A final Requiem Mass was held on the morning of 5 August 2009, with Archbishop of Manila Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales, Bishop of Balanga Socrates B. Villegas, and other high-ranking clergymen concelebrating. Aquino's daughter Kris spoke on behalf of her family towards the end of the Mass. Aquino's flag-draped casket was escorted from the cathedral to Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque, where she was interred beside her husband in her family mausoleum. Aquino's funeral procession took more than eight hours to reach the burial site, as tens of thousands of civilians lined the route to pay their respects. Philippine Air Force UH-1 helicopters showered the procession with yellow confetti and ships docked at Manila's harbor blared their sirens to salute the late president.

Reaction Edit

Both local and international leaders showed respect for Aquino's achievements in the process of democratization in the Philippines.

Local reaction Edit

Various politicians across the political spectrum expressed their grief and praise for the former Philippine leader. President Arroyo, once an ally of Aquino, remembered the sacrifices she made for the country and called her a "national treasure." [97] Former President Estrada said that the country had lost its mother and guiding voice with her sudden death. He also described Aquino as the "Philippines' most loved woman." [98] Although they were at one time political foes, Aquino and Estrada had reconciled and joined forces in opposing President Arroyo. [99]

Former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, who had been Aquino's defense minister and later a fierce critic of Aquino, asked the public to pray for her eternal repose. Although former Aquino interior minister and Senate minority floor leader Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. revealed that he had "mixed feelings" about Aquino's death, he also said that the country "shall be forever indebted to Cory for rallying the nation behind the campaign to topple dictatorial rule and restore democracy". [100]

Filipinos citizens throughout the country wore either yellow shirts or held masses to pay tribute to Aquino. Yellow Ribbons, which were a symbol of support for Aquino after the 1986 election and during the People Power Revolution, were tied along major national roads and streets as a sign of solidarity and support for the now deceased Aquino and her grieving family. In popular social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, Filipinos posted yellow ribbons in their accounts as a tribute to the former Philippine leader. Following her death, Filipino Catholics called on the Church to have Aquino canonized and declared as a saint. Days after her funeral, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) announced that it supported calls to put the former president on the 500-Peso banknote alongside Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr., her deceased husband. The bill had previously featured a portrait of only Benigno Aquino, Jr. since 1987. [101]

International reaction Edit

Messages of sympathy were sent by various national heads of state and international leaders.

Pope Benedict XVI, in his letter to Archbishop Rosales, recalled Aquino's "courageous commitment to the freedom of the Filipino people, her firm rejection of violence and intolerance" and called her a woman of courage and faith.

U.S. President Barack Obama, through White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, said that "her courage, determination, and moral leadership are an inspiration to us all and exemplify the best in the Filipino nation". U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed sadness over the passing of Aquino, to whom she had sent a personal letter of best wishes for recovery while she was still in hospital in July 2009. Clinton said that Aquino was "admired by the world for her extraordinary courage" in leading the fight against dictatorship. [102]

South African President Jacob Zuma called Aquino "a great leader who set a shining example of peaceful transition to democracy in her country". [103]

Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, through the British Ambassador in Manila, sent a message to the Filipino people which read: "I am saddened to hear of the death of Corazon 'Cory' Aquino the former president of the Republic of the Philippines". She also added, "I send my sincere condolences to her family and to the people of the Philippines. Signed, Elizabeth R". [104]

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev stated in a telegram to President Arroyo that "the name of Corazon Aquino is associated with a period of profound reforms and the democratic transformation of Filipino society". Medvedev also lauded Aquino's sympathy to Russian people and her contribution to the improvement of Russian-Filipino relations. [105]

Timor-Leste President José Ramos-Horta and Wan Azizah, wife of Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, came to the Philippines to express their sympathies and attend Aquino's funeral.

Soon after her 2010 release from her two-decade prison sentence, Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar publicly cited Aquino as one of her inspirations. She also expressed her good wishes for Aquino's son, then-incumbent president of the Philippines Benigno S. Aquino III.

A Dive Into History: Maria Corazon Cojuangco Aquino

Maria Corazon Cojuangco Aquino was a political leader and activist who was the eleventh and first female president of the Philippines, serving from 1986 to 1992 - she was also the first female president in all of Asia . Born in 1933, Corazon was the most prominent figure in the 1986 People Power Revolution within the Philippines, which restored democratic rule to the country, ending the 20-year dictatorship of her opposition Ferdinand Marcos , establishing the current Fifth Philippine republic. She came to be known colloquially as the ‘Mother of Democracy’ in Asia for her work.

Corazon was born into a rich and politically active family in the Tarlac province of the Philippines. She was the sixth of eight children, two of whom passed away when they were young. Her siblings were Pedro, Josephine, Teresita, Jose Jr., and Maria Paz . She was valedictorian of her elementary school, and her high school years were spread across several different schools as her parents moved to the United States – she ended up graduating from high school at the Notre Dame Convent School. She attended university in America also, majoring in French with a minor in Mathematics at St. Vincent College in New York City in 1954. After graduating, she returned to the Philippines and began to study law at Far Eastern University , but whilst there she met Benigno Aquino Jr., and discontinued her education to marry him – they were married in October 1954. Now married, Corazon gave birth to five children – Maria, Aurora, Benigno III, Victoria, and Kristina. She was fluent in six languages – her native languages of Tagalog and Kapampangan, but also Japanese, English, French and Spanish.

Corazon’s husband Benigno, now a member of the Philippine’s Liberal Party, rose to become the youngest governor in the country in 1961, and then the youngest senator ever elected to the Philippine Senate in 1967. For most of her husband's political career, Aquino remained a housewife who raised their children and hosted her spouse's political allies who would visit their bungalow in Quezon City. She did not join her husband on stage in his political rallies, as she preferred to listen from within the audience. Unknown to the general public at the time, Corazon used some of her prized and considerable inheritance to fund her husband’s candidacy.

Her husband began to emerge as the leading opposition to the current President Ferdinand Marcos, and started to be seen as a potential candidate who could succeed Marcos in the 1973 elections. Marcos was barred from running for a third term by the current Constitution, but declared martial law in September of 1972, beginning a 14-year period of essentially a one-man political office. This period involved various human rights abuses against his opposition, and anyone who got in his way, including activists and journalists, and unfortunately, Corazon’s husband, his biggest critic. Benigno was one of the first to be arrested after the law set in, and was sentenced to death and incarcerated. Benigno, determined for justice in his country, decided to run in the 1978 Batasang Pambansa elections from within his prison cell as party leader of the newly created LABAN party – Laban meaning ‘fight’ in Filipino. He failed to win.

In 1980, after 8 years in prison, Benigno had a heart attack – and Marcos’ wife, Imelda, permitted him and his family to leave for exile in the United States so he could seek medical care, due to intervention from the then current US President Jimmy Carter. The family lived in Boston for three years, and Corazon felt it was the happiest days of her life at that time.

History - Corazon Aquino - History bibliographies - in Harvard style

Your Bibliography: 2015. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 16 September 2015].

Corazon Aquino | biography - president of Philippines

In-text: (Corazon Aquino | biography - president of Philippines, 2015)

Your Bibliography: Encyclopedia Britannica. 2015. Corazon Aquino | biography - president of Philippines. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 16 September 2015].

Engel, K.

Corazon Aquino, revolutionary president of the Philippines - Amazing Women In History

In-text: (Engel, 2011)

Your Bibliography: Engel, K., 2011. Corazon Aquino, revolutionary president of the Philippines - Amazing Women In History. [online] Amazing Women In History. Available at: <> [Accessed 16 September 2015].

Corazon Aquino

In-text: (Corazon Aquino, 2009)

Your Bibliography: 2009. Corazon Aquino. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 16 September 2015].

Corazon Aquino | President of the Philippines, 1986-92 | Obituary

In-text: (Corazon Aquino | President of the Philippines, 1986-92 | Obituary, 2009)

Your Bibliography: the Guardian. 2009. Corazon Aquino | President of the Philippines, 1986-92 | Obituary. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 16 September 2015].

Cory Aquino: President of the Philippines who brought democracy to the islands

In-text: (Cory Aquino: President of the Philippines who brought democracy to the islands, 2009)

By HRVOJE HRANJSKI, Associated Press Writer Hrvoje Hranjski, Associated Press Writer –

Former Philippine President Corazon Aquino, who was undergoing treatment for colon cancer, had her picture taken with students before a mass and tribute to herself and her late husband Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr. in Quezon City, Metro Manila, August 17, 2008. Corazon Aquino died on August 1, 2009.

MANILA, Philippines – Former President Corazon Aquino, who swept away a dictator with a “people power” revolt and then sustained democracy by fighting off seven coup attempts in six years, died on Saturday, her son said. She was 76.

The uprising she led in 1986 ended the repressive 20-year regime of Ferdinand Marcos and inspired nonviolent protests across the globe, including those that ended Communist rule in eastern Europe.

But she 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.”

Yellow - Former President Corazon Aquino's favorite color - was all around Metro Manila on Saturday as the nation mourned the death of its beloved first female president and hero of the People Power revolt that restored democracy in the country. Even streetsweepers went about their chores with yellow ribbons tied around their heads in respect to "Cory" Aquino.

“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 Law School at the University of the Philippines, said earlier this month. “We all owe her in a big way.”

Her son, Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” or Aquino III, said his mother died at 3:18 a.m. Saturday (1918 GMT Friday).

Aquino was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer last year and confined to a Manila hospital for more than a month. Her son said the cancer had spread to other organs and she was too weak to continue her chemotherapy.

Supporters have been holding daily prayers for Aquino in churches in Manila and throughout the country for a month. Masses were scheduled for later Saturday, and yellow ribbons were tied on trees around her neighborhood in Quezon city.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who is on an official visit to the United States, said in a statement that “the entire nation is mourning” Aquino’s demise. Arroyo declared a period of national mourning and announced a state funeral would be held for the late president.

TV stations on Saturday were running footage of Aquino’s years together with prayers while her former aides and supporters offered condolences.

“Today our country has lost a mother,” said former President Joseph Estrada, calling Aquino “a woman of both strength and graciousness.”

Even the exiled Communist Party founder Jose Maria Sison, whom Aquino freed from jail in 1986, paid tribute from the Netherlands.

Aquino’s unlikely rise began in 1983 when her husband, opposition leader Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., was assassinated on the tarmac of Manila’s international airport as he returned from exile in the United States to challenge Marcos, his longtime adversary.

The killing enraged many Filipinos and unleashed a broad-based opposition movement that thrust Aquino into the role of national leader.

“I don’t know anything about the presidency,” she declared in 1985, a year before she agreed to run against Marcos, uniting the fractious opposition, the business community, and later the armed forces to drive the dictator out.

Maria Corazon Cojuangco was born on Jan. 25, 1933, into a wealthy, politically powerful family in Paniqui, about 75 miles (120 kilometers) north of Manila.

She attended private school in Manila and earned a degree in French from the College of Mount St. Vincent in New York. In 1954 she married Ninoy Aquino, the fiercely ambitious scion of another political family. He rose from provincial governor to senator and finally opposition leader.

Marcos, elected president in 1965, declared martial law in 1972 to avoid term limits. He abolished the Congress and jailed Aquino’s husband and thousands of opponents, journalists and activists without charges. Aquino became her husband’s political stand-in, confidant, message carrier and spokeswoman.

A military tribunal sentenced her husband to death for alleged links to communist rebels but, under pressure from U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Marcos allowed him to leave in May 1980 for heart surgery in the U.S.

It was the start of a three-year exile. With her husband at Harvard University holding court with fellow exiles, academics, journalists and visitors from Manila, Aquino was the quiet homemaker, raising their five children and serving tea. Away from the hurly-burly of Philippine politics, she described the period as the best of their marriage.

Benigno (Ninoy) Aquino, Corazon Aquino's husband, was the leader of the Filipino opposition to Ferdinand Marcos. He was shot dead in 1983 as he returned to the Philippines.

The halcyon days ended when her husband decided to return to regroup the opposition. While she and the children remained in Boston, he flew to Manila, where he was shot as he descended the stairs from the plane.

The government blamed a suspected communist rebel, but subsequent investigations pointed to a soldier who was escorting him from the plane on Aug. 21, 1983.

Aquino heard of the assassination in a phone call from a Japanese journalist. She recalled gathering the children and, as a deeply religious woman, praying for strength.

“During Ninoy’s incarceration and before my presidency, I used to ask why it had always to be us to make the sacrifice,” she said in a 2007 interview with The Philippine Star newspaper. “And then, when Ninoy died, I would say, ‘Why does it have to be me now?’ It seemed like we were always the sacrificial lamb.”

She returned to the Philippines three days later. One week after that, she led the largest funeral procession Manila had seen. Crowd estimates ranged as high as 2 million.

With public opposition mounting against Marcos, he stunned the nation in November 1985 by calling a snap election in a bid to shore up his mandate. The opposition, including then Manila Archbishop Cardinal Jaime L. Sin, urged Aquino to run.

After a fierce campaign, the vote was held on Feb. 7, 1986. The National Assembly declared Marcos the winner, but journalists, foreign observers and church leaders alleged massive fraud.

Ferdinand Marcos was elected president of the Philippines in 1965. In 1972 he imposed martial law and seized dictatorial powers. A massive four-day protest known as the People Power Movement forced him from office in 1986 and restored democracy in the Philippines.

With the result in dispute, a group of military officers mutinied against Marcos on Feb. 22 and holed up with a small force in a military camp in Manila.

Over the following three days, hundreds of thousands of Filipinos responded to a call by the Roman Catholic Church to jam the broad highway in front of the camp to prevent an attack by Marcos forces.

On the third day, against the advice of her security detail, Aquino appeared at the rally alongside the mutineers, led by Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and Lt. Gen. Fidel Ramos, the military vice chief of staff and Marcos’ cousin.

From a makeshift platform, she declared: “For the first time in the history of the world, a civilian population has been called to defend the military.”

The military chiefs pledged their loyalty to Aquino and charged that Marcos had won the election by fraud.

U.S. President Ronald Reagan, a longtime supporter of Marcos, called on him to resign. “Attempts to prolong the life of the present regime by violence are futile,” the White House said. American officials offered to fly Marcos out of the Philippines.

On Feb. 25, Marcos and his family went to the U.S.-run Clark Air Base outside Manila and flew to Hawaii, where he died three years later.

The same day, Aquino was sworn in as the Philippines’ first female leader.

President Ronald Reagan and Philippine President Corazon Aquino meet on September 17, 1986 in the Oval office of the White House in Washington.

Over time, the euphoria fizzled as the public became impatient and Aquino more defensive as she struggled to navigate treacherous political waters and build alliances to push her agenda.

“People used to compare me to the ideal president, but he doesn’t exist and never existed. He has never lived,” she said in the 2007 Philippine Star interview.

The right attacked her for making overtures to communist rebels and the left, for protecting the interests of wealthy landowners.

Aquino signed an agrarian reform bill that virtually exempted large plantations like her family’s sugar plantation from being distributed to landless farmers.

When farmers protested outside the Malacanang Presidential Palace on Jan. 22, 1987, troops opened fire, killing 13 and wounding 100.

The bloodshed scuttled talks with communist rebels, who had galvanized opposition to Marcos but weren’t satisfied with Aquino either.

As recently as 2004, at least seven workers were killed in clashes with police and soldiers at the family’s plantation, Hacienda Luisita, over its refusal to distribute its land.

Aquino also attempted to negotiate with Muslim separatists in the southern Philippines, but made little progress.

Behind the public image of the frail, vulnerable widow, Aquino was an iron-willed woman who dismissed criticism as the carping of jealous rivals. She knew she had to act tough to earn respect in the Philippines’ macho culture.

“When I am just with a few close friends, I tell them, ‘OK, you don’t like me? Look at the alternatives,’ and that shuts them up,” she told America’s NBC television in a 1987 interview.

Her term was punctuated by repeated coup attempts — most staged by the same clique of officers who had risen up against Marcos and felt they had been denied their fair share of power. The most serious attempt came in December 1989 when only a flyover by U.S. jets prevented mutinous troops from toppling her.

Leery of damaging relations with the United States, Aquino tried in vain to block a historic Senate vote to force the U.S. out of its two major bases in the Philippines.

In the end, the U.S. Air Force pulled out of Clark Air Base in 1991 after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo forced its evacuation and left it heavily damaged. The last American vessel left Subic Bay Naval Base in November 1992.

former First Lady of the Philippines Imelda Marcos debuts her new line of accessories, 2006

After stepping down in 1992, Aquino remained active in social and political causes.Until diagnosed with colon cancer in March 2008, she joined rallies calling for the resignation of President Arroyo over allegations of vote-rigging and corruption.

She kept her distance from another famous widow, flamboyant former first lady Imelda Marcos, who was allowed to return to the Philippines in 1991.

Marcos has called Aquino a usurper and dictator, though she later led prayers for Aquino in July 2009 when the latter was hospitalized. The two never made peace.

The Troubled Presidency Of Corazon Aquino

Less than seven months after she came to power in a largely peaceful uprising that was hailed around the world, President Corazon Aquino is in trouble.

As she heads to Washington for a crucial first meeting with President Reagan this week, the 53-year-old widow, commonly known here as "Cory," remains highly popular among her 55 million compatriots.

But for all her unquestioned sincerity and good intentions, there are signs of growing pessimism about her ability to handle the country's problems. The euphoria that accompanied her "people's power revolution" has largely given way to a sense that these problems may overwhelm her in the difficult times ahead.

Her government increasingly is perceived to be floundering amid the wreckage left by the disastrous administration of deposed president Ferdinand Marcos. But it is also weighed down with problems of its own making. While she holds the middle ground and does her best to referee infighting in her fractious 26-member Cabinet, centrifugal forces inexorably are pulling apart her unwieldy coalition, riven by multiple party loyalties, ideological differences and personality clashes.

Compounding her problems have been new gains by the radical left, the questionable loyalty of some elements in the military, the failure of the business community to make anticipated investments, a volatile labor situation, nationwide feuding over the appointment of more than 1,600 governors and mayors, and the likelihood that the Aquino government will not have effective control of the future Congress.

This assessment is based on interviews with government officials, military officers, communist rebels, church leaders, diplomats and a variety of other sources in different parts of the country over the last several months.

"Part of the problem is that Cory, having been brought to power as a sort of symbol who presides over warring groups, is not inclined to interfere with squabbles because she wants to be above it all," said a Cabinet minister. "She knows she is very popular, but the danger is that all these squabbles might engulf her."

He added: "There's no doubt that everywhere Cory has gone, she has charmed people. She's honest and conducts herself in a high moral tone. But will she end up like Jimmy Carter?"

Similar expressions of concern have been aired by other prominent Aquino backers, notably the archbishop of Manila, Cardinal Jaime Sin. The spiritual leader of this predominantly Roman Catholic country, the only Christian nation in Asia, Sin was instrumental in mobilizing the church to support the military-led "revolution" that drove Marcos into exile in Hawaii.

"Disunity shows its very ugly head," Sin said in a recent homily aimed at bickering government officials. "The gains of the revolution are little by little being lost."

Like Sin, many of those who have criticized Aquino's government desperately want her presidency to succeed. "I'd like to see her make it I really would," said one western military attache. "But she's surrounded by tigers and crocodiles."

In an interview Tuesday, Aquino did not deny that pessimism about her government's unity has set in, but she renewed appeals for patience and understanding.

"I guess there were very great expectations," she said. "Many people believed that in the short space of six months, many of our problems would be solved. I guess this has disappointed some of them." On the other hand, she added, many Filipinos "realize that with the enormity of our problems and our limited resources, government cannot really act as fast as it would like to in solving these problems." She indicated that she was banking heavily on increased foreign investment to generate more employment.

Aquino also complained that some of her problems were being exaggerated by an unshackled local press. Manila alone now has 24 scoop-hungry daily newspapers, which compete for circulation totaling only about 2 million.

Indeed, a case can be made for the optimism publicly expressed by the Reagan administration and other U.S. officials, such as Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.), who visited here in August.

Having been vaulted into political prominence by the 1983 assassination of her husband, opposition leader Benigno Aquino Jr., the former housewife clearly has been "growing in the job" and steadily acquiring more confidence as the Philippines' seventh president.A Reputation for Honesty

Marcos loyalists still have a potential for disruption and outbursts of violence against the Aquino government, but they pose no serious threat of overthrowing it. The deposed Marcos, who turned 69 Thursday, has been reduced to a grating voice in the Hawaiian wilderness, issuing dire warnings that World War III will erupt in the Philippines unless he returns to power. Equally implausibly, his wife, Imelda, now complains that Aquino is wearing one of the 3,000 pairs of shoes she left behind in Malacanang Palace.

Besides showing greater self-confidence, Aquino has upheld her reputation for common sense, honesty and integrity -- virtues generally agreed to be badly needed in the country today following the Marcos era. And, as much as she says she harbors no ambition for power, Aquino expresses a determination to succeed.

"I am not one to give up very easily," she said in the interview."

Yet, a wide range of sources agree, the reasons for pessimism about her government these days outweigh the positive factors.

In the interview, Aquino said she was a member of no political party, although she ran for president under the banner of her vice president's party. She has spurned suggestions from supporters that she form her own party, explaining that "there are enough political parties and I do not want to add more confusion."

Some supporters fear that this disdain for dirtying her hands in politics will further undermine the effectiveness of her government when Filipinos vote in local and legislative elections set for next year.

"In effect, she is abdicating the political leadership, and this will have very dangerous repercussions in Congress," said the mayor of a large provincial city. "Being an apolitical person, she cannot conceptualize the need for a political organization to support her presidency. The dynamics of governance are not perceived by her. She expects people to follow her because she has good intentions."

In contrast to the directionless drift that is widely attributed to the Aquino government, communist rebels and their leftist allies have emerged as the only unified force with a clear, common goal. The left has recovered, both rebel and military sources agree, from the isolation and disarray it displayed immediately following the Feb. 22-25 "revolution" that brought Aquino to power in the wake of the victory claimed by Marcos in a rigged presidential election.

In a rare public admission of a "major tactical blunder," the Communist Party of the Philippines acknowledged in May that it had erred in promoting a boycott of the Feb. 7 national election, a policy that isolated it from the anti-Marcos upheaval that followed. Now, after a period of "self-criticism and rectification," including leadership changes, the outlawed party and its armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA), have adjusted their strategy and appear again to be making headway in their 17-year-old "people's war."

A Questioned Approach to Insurgency

Elements of the country's 250,000-member armed forces, meanwhile, appear to be growing increasingly frustrated with what they see as the Aquino administration's naive approach to the insurgency and communist influence in government. Some officers close to Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile, the Philippines' leading anticommunist crusader, now openly discuss the prospect of staging a military coup sometime in the future if the perceived leftward drift becomes intolerable.

"If Cory Aquino is seen as continually being soft on communists to the point they become too strong, she will have to contend with a military that is very agitated," said a member of an armed forces reform movement that spearheaded the revolt against Marcos. "If the military has to launch a corrective movement, I don't think it will be bad for the Filipinos," he added. He said there would be "no martial rule" and that the military would "just kill a few NPAs."

The economy, so damaged by the "crony capitalism" and outright plunder of Marcos' 20-year rule, has shown signs of improvement. But there is widespread concern that the gains may be too small and come too slowly to resolve some of the underlying causes of the insurgency.

Contributing to this concern is the realization that the United States, for all its goodwill toward the Aquino government, will apparently prove incapable of supplying the massive aid that many here had hoped would amount to a new Marshall Plan for the Philippines.

Part of the problem is that the business community, which provided crucial support for Aquino in the February election, is mired in a Catch-22 situation. Businessmen are reluctant to invest because of uncertainty arising mainly from the communist insurgency. But progress in undercutting the insurgency depends largely on an economic turnaround, which requires business confidence and new investments. An exasperated Aquino made matters worse, some businessmen believe, by publicly scolding the business community in a recent speech, accusing it of timidity.

A major worry for the business community has been the wave of strikes it has suffered since Aquino assumed the presidency and installed a leftist human rights lawyer, Augusto Sanchez, as labor minister. Many of the strikes have been called by the militant Kilusang Mayo Uno (May 1 Movement), a labor federation dominated by the Communist Party. So far this year, the Labor Ministry has recorded 428 strikes, a figure that already exceeds the 371 strikes called in 1985.

Another source of trouble for the Aquino government is the Constitutional Commission, a 48-member body appointed by Aquino in May to draft a new constitution that will pave the way for local and legislative elections, probably early next year.

The commission, beset by bickering and long-winded debates between a minority leftist bloc and a more conservative majority, has missed an informal Sept. 2 deadline set by Aquino for completing its work. In the process, it has delved into areas that some critics feel would be better left to a legislature, such as setting the ratio of foreign equity in business enterprises, a subject of intense debate that led to a walkout by the leftist bloc amid condemnation of what it called "the tyranny of the majority."

So many clauses are being inserted into the charter, wrote one critic of the commission, columnist Maximo Soliven, that "I am surprised that up to now nobody has suggested that the draft constitution prescribe the brand of toothpaste to be used by every Filipino."

According to a Cabinet minister and other political sources, the commission may already have thrown a major obstacle in front of the Aquino government by passing a provision for a bicameral legislature consisting of a nationally elected Senate and a House of Representatives elected by district. The sources said that, based on past experience, such a system was likely to prove tedious and time-consuming. Senators have tended to spend their time posturing as future presidents, they said, and district -- instead of province-wide -- elections of representatives have served to perpetuate the dynasties of political warlords. A unicameral legislature might be more suitable for the Philippines, these observers said.

"The purse and legislation will be controlled by Congress, and it will be the most independent one you've ever seen in the history of the country," said a Cabinet minister. Given the fractious political situation and splits in the Aquino coalition, he predicted, "The government will lose control of Congress and will not be able to accomplish anything. In the end, the bicameral system will be more conducive to a stalemated government."

Perhaps the most divisive factor in the Aquino government has been the appointment of "officers in charge" to replace the 74 governors, 60 city mayors and 1,520 town and village mayors elected or appointed under the Marcos government. The appointments have been the responsibility of the minister of local governments, Aquilino Pimentel Jr., an ambitious former mayor who was once jailed by Marcos on subversion charges for allegedly helping communist rebels.

Pimentel is a leader of the PDP-Laban party, a left-of-center group headed by the president's brother, Jose (Peping) Cojuangco. Members of the United Nationalist Democratic Organization, a rival party known as UNIDO and headed by Vice President Salvador Laurel, have accused Pimentel of appointing a disproportionate number of his own party members as governors and mayors to further his own presidential aspirations. Pimentel denies this.

Nevertheless, it is clear that the fortunes of Laurel's UNIDO have waned under the Aquino government, and he has openly broached the prospect of allying with a conservative opposition group, the Nacionalista Party, in the forthcoming local and congressional elections. The latter party was formed recently by a protege of Defense Minister Enrile and is widely viewed as a vehicle for his own presidential ambitions. Most of its members are defectors from Marcos' once-powerful New Society Movement party, which split after his ouster.

All this raises the likelihood, according to political analysts, that the PDP-Laban will line up in the next elections with the newly formed Partido Ng Bayan, which is essentially a legal communist party put together by Jose Maria Sison, the founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines, and Bernabe Buscayno, alias Commander Dante, the original leader of the communist New People's Army. Both were released from prison by Aquino.

At the Partido Ng Bayan's founding congress in Manila on Aug. 30, Sison said the party's participation in elections would be "secondary" to "extralegal forms of struggle," which he did not define. Party officials said they expected to win 20 percent of the 1,900 positions that will be at stake in the local and congressional elections.

According to leaders of the communist underground, the formation of the Partido Ng Bayan reflects a major shift in Communist Party strategy.


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Wilhelm, Maria, and Peter Carlson. "A Matter of Family Honor," in People Weekly. Vol. 25, no. 11. March 17, 1986, pp. 34–39.

John Haag , Associate Professor of History, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia

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