(UPDATE) Cory laid to rest
() - August 5, 2009 - 11:00pm

MANILA, Philippines (AP) - Former President Corazon Aquino was buried in her family mausoleum today with hundreds of thousands of supporters wearing her signature yellow color and professing gratitude to the woman who restored democracy at high personal cost.

The flatbed truck carrying Aquino's flag-draped coffin reached Manila Memorial Park in the evening after a nearly nine-hour, 22-kilometerC trip through Manila's streets drenched by rain and jammed by masses chanting "Cory," the former president's nickname.

Honor guards fired a 21-gun salute and the flag from the coffin was folded and handed over to Aquino's only son, Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III.

Crowds applauded as the 11th Philippine president was placed inside the simple white-painted tomb next to her husband, Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr., who was assassinated in 1983 as he returned from U.S. exile to oppose longtime dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

The brazen killing enraged the nation and his hesitant widow inherited his mantle and led the 1986 "people power" uprising that drove out Marcos' 20-year repressive rule.

Aquino died Saturday at age 76 after a yearlong battle with colon cancer.

"You have given our family honor beyond anything we could ever have hoped to receive," daughter Kris, one of Aquino's five children, said in a message of thanks. "No matter how great the sacrifices of my parents, I can honestly say to all of you that for my family, the Filipinos are worth it."

Wednesday's requiem Mass was attended by Aquino's successors, Fidel Ramos and Joseph Estrada _ the latter deposed in a second popular uprising in 2001 on corruption allegations _ and East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta.

Aquino inspired East Timor's struggle for independence from Indonesia a decade ago, Ramos-Horta said.

"I think the greatest tribute that Filipinos can pay to Corazon Aquino and so many others who gave their lives for democracy is ... there should be no more dictatorships again," he said.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who was at odds with Aquino after being urged to resign by the former president because of vote-rigging allegations, paid a quick visit to the wake Wednesday morning upon her return from the U.S. and left before the church ceremonies and procession.

At the memorial park, interior designer Merly Querubin, wearing a baseball cap adorned with a yellow ribbon, said her country had two kinds of leaders. "One who we follow out of fear, and one who we follow out of respect. We have lost a leader so respected."

In a highly symbolic gesture, the late Marcos' two children paid their respects Tuesday to the woman who toppled their father. It was unlikely, however, to reconcile the families' bitter rivalry.

Aquino's brother-in-law, former Sen. Agapito "Butz" Aquino, welcomed them at the wake, saying the family had "no fight with the children" of Marcos.

In 1986, Aquino reluctantly agreed to unite the opposition against Marcos and run against the strongman.

Marcos claimed an election victory over Aquino, but the polls were widely seen as fraudulent. A group of military officers rebelled against him, triggering "people power" protests by hundreds of thousands that finally toppled Marcos.

In office, Aquino struggled to meet high public expectations. Her land redistribution program fell short of ending economic domination by the landed elite. Her leadership, especially in social and economic reform, was often indecisive, leaving many of her closest allies disillusioned by the end of her term.

She faced down seven 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.

Aquino stepped down in 1992, refusing to seek another term and reminding people that her mission _ the restoration of democracy _ had been completed.

Despite her "serious flaws" in office, left-wing Rep. Teddy Casino expressed gratitude to Aquino for reminding "the world that there is perhaps a Cory in every Filipino looking for a way to become manifest."

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with