MOST INTERNATIONAL LEADERS APPEARING AS TIME’S PERSON(S) OF THE YEAR ARE NON ASIANS. ONLY A FEW MADE THE COVER. CORAZON AQUINO IS ONE OF THEM.
BY PICO IYER
Jan. 5, 1987
History, wrote Gibbon, is little more than a “register of crimes, sorrows and misfortunes.” It is, equally often, a study in black ironies or the fatal mechanisms of tragedy. Sometimes history is even a cautionary tale, an Aesopian fable on the folly of blindness or greed or lust. But history is rarely a fairy tale, a narrative that instructs as well as inspires. Still less often is it a morality play, in which the forces of corruption and redemption, of extravagance and modesty collide in perfect symmetry.
In 1986, however, as all the global village looked on, history turned into a clash of symbols in the Republic of the Philippines, a nation long relegated to its dustier corridors. There is the Southeast Asian archipelago of 56 million people and more than 7,000 islands, life not only imitated are but improved upon it. In a made-for-television drama watched by millions, two veteran rulers, President Ferdinand Marcos and his wife Imelda, stumbled and fell in their ruthless campaign to extend, with an immodesty broader than a scriptwriter’s fancy, their stolen empire.
María Corazón “Cory” Sumúlong Cojuangco Aquino (January 25, 1933 – August 1, 2009) was the 11th President of the Philippines and the first woman to hold such office. Aquino was also the first popularly and democratically-elected female president and head of state in Asia. Aquino is best remembered for leading the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution, which toppled the authoritarian regime of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos and restored democracy in the Philippines. Cory, as she is affectionately known, is considered and revered by many Filipinos as the Philippines’ Icon of Democracy. She has been hailed by TIME Magazine as the ‘Saint of Democracy,’ due to her well-known spiritual life and strong adherence to non-violence and democracy.
A self-proclaimed “plain housewife”, Aquino was married to Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr., the popular opposition leader and staunchest critic of then President Ferdinand Marcos, who was assassinated on August 21, 1983 upon returning to the Philippines after his exile in the United States.
Ex-Philippine president Aquino remembered for her China bonds
www.chinaview.cn 2009-08-02 19:30:48
By Xinhua Writer Xu Lingui
MANILA, Aug. 2 (Xinhua) — She was the first woman president in Asia. Her legacy was defined by restoring democracy to the Philippines and ensuring a less corrupt government during her six-year term.
But Corazon “Cory” Aquino, who died on Saturday at the age of 76, was also remembered by Chinese community as a president who openly appreciated her Chinese origin and the first head of state to embark on a “roots-tracing” trip to her ancestral hometown 21 years ago, Chinese-Filipino scholars said.
Aquino, the fourth generation of Chinese immigrants, was seen in a rare photo speaking to a huge crowd in the tiny village of Hongjian in Fujian province in southeastern China. Clad in typically yellow-colored “Cory T-shirts”, two dozen children in the front row raised their heads in awe to this English-speaking auntie, who was said to be a great-granddaughter from the neighborhood.
Like millions of other small traders in coastal China, Aquino’s great grandfather Xu Yuhuan — known as Jose Cojuangco to Filipinos left his hometown in Fujian province and sailed to the Philippine shore. In 1861, the Cojuangcos started by running a small rice and sugar mill in central Luzon but soon found themselves grow into one of the country’s richest families.
Born in 1933 in Manila, Maria Corazon Cojuangco had never returned to her ancestral hometown until the second year of her presidency. She insisted to visit Hongjian village on her first state visit to China in April 1988, Research Director of the Bahay Tsinoy Museum Go Bon Juan told Xinhua.
“It was a big news in the Filipino-Chinese community. We all felt proud and excited,” said Bon Juan, one of the three reporters accompanying the president on her “personal diplomacy” trip to China.
Cory chatted with her 73-year-old uncle who she never met, burnt incense in a temple to pay tribute to family ancestors and donated 15,000 U.S. dollars to build a children’s playground equipped with a skating rink. “Villagers were thrilled, especially her relatives there,” Bon Juan said.