Honoring Cory
BREAKTHROUGH - Elfren S. Cruz (The Philippine Star) - January 24, 2019 - 12:00am

President Cory Aquino  was born on Jan. 25, 1933.  After battling cancer for over a year, she passed away, at the age of 76, on Aug. 1, 2009. 

She championed democracy and human rights, not through violence or intimidation; but, through the power of ideas and words. Her speeches during the struggle against the Marcos dictatorship, during her presidency; and, even after her presidency continue to inspire long after her death. I have always believed that she exemplified the adage that: “The pen is mightier than the sword.”

One of her most  inspiring speeches was in 1998 when she gave the response during the Ramon Magsaysay Award ceremonies.

RESPONSE OF PRESIDENT CORAZON AQUINO (Ramon Magsaysay Award 1998)

“It is never too late to advance the cause of democracy by honoring its struggles and celebrating its victories. For somewhere in the world, there are always women and men who see what their jailers cannot, through the bars of their prison: in the distant triumphs of democracy – the hope of freedom.

There is never a wrong time to honor courage, conviction and right, because these qualities are always in short supply yet ever in infinite demand, wherever freedom is sought and democracy is threatened. Every tribute advances these causes, encourages these qualities, and brings so much closer their victory and vindication.

I accept this award on behalf of those great individuals who first glimpsed the potential of peace at a time when the conventional wisdom prescribed force for the attainment of justice, and war for the achievement of freedom.

I accept this award on behalf of that man, who having read about this vision of the power of peace, dared to put it into practice in the age of extremes in which he lived – and in the face of the annihilation he read in the eyes of his escorts.

I accept this award on behalf of those people, who seeing with their own eyes, on the tarmac of Manila International Airport, how violence answers peace and force reacts to fortitude, yet dared to repeat the example of that man – first each person by himself, then all together in the millions.

I accept this award on behalf of those women and men today, who still dare to make the same fateful commitment to People Power, despite its uneven record of success. For every EDSA, Prague and Berlin, there has been an East Timor, a Rang Qon and a Tienanmen Square.

I accept the Ramon Magsaysay Award with humility in the light of history’s most earth-shaking yet peaceful events – Gandhi gathering a handful of salt, that unknown Chinese blocking a column of tanks with only a brief-case of office work in his hand, Nelson Mandela putting 27 years of imprisonment behind him to lead all South Africans – black and white, his jailers and their victims – to a greater country.

I accept this award on behalf of the man who perhaps most deserved it, because he idolized and served President Ramon Magsaysay and paid The Guy the ultimate tribute of imitation by giving life for his country.

I accept this award on behalf of the Filipino People who followed in Ninoy’s potentially fatal footsteps and proved what Ninoy always believed about them: THE FILIPINO IS WORTH DYING FOR.

I accept this award on behalf of the people of Burma who have had a longer and bloodier road to freedom than we traveled, but who plod on regardless.

I accept this award, finally, for my five children, Ballsy, Pinky, Noy-Noy, Viel and Kris, whose unquestioning support and uncomplaining sacrifices gave me the strength to complete what my husband began and my people continued: the victory of People Power for democracy.

I thank with all my heart Mrs. Luz Magsaysay and her family, the trustees of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation and all the people who have been praying for me and with me. Maraming salamat po!

Maria Corazon Cojuangco Aquino

For the young generation who are only beginning to learn about her, here is a very short biography for your reference. Born on Jan. 25, 1933, Corazon “Cory” Aquino was the sixth of eight children of Jose Cojuangco and Demetria Sumulong. She attended grade school in St. Scholastica’s and went to the US for her high school education. She graduated from the College of Mt. Saint Vincent in New York with a bachelor’s degree in French and Mathematics.

Returning to the Philippines, she married Ninoy Aquino and remained in the backstage supporting her husband’s political career and during his imprisonment. After her husband was assassinated in 1983, Cory was seen as the person who could unify the opposition and lead the Filipino people. She was prevailed to run as the opposition ‘s presidential candidate and ran against Ferdinand Marcos during the 1986 snap election, thereby challenging his  two-decade rule. 

After numerous protests and rallies against the violence and massive fraud perpetrated by the ruling regime, the citizenry – religious, political, military, business, youth, urban poor, labor sectors – mobilized on EDSA for four days in Februrary. This became known as the People Power Revolution, a non-violent insurrection against the Marcos dictatorship. Cory was sworn in as the 11th president and the first woman president of the Philippines. 

She took over a country that had become the “sick man of Asia” and started it on the road to economic and democratic recovery. The Philippines achieved. the highest GDP growth rate and a democratic constitution was approved in a plebiscite.

She was legally qualified to run for president in 1992, but opted not to run. She remained an active voice in defense of democracy and human rights; and, against the abuse of power. She received countless honors all over the world. 

Creative writing classes for kids and teens

Young Writers’ Hangout on Jan. 26 (1:30 pm-3 pm; stand-alone session) with Tarie Sabido) at Fully Booked BGC.  For details and registration,  email writethingsph@gmail.com.

Email: elfrencruz@gmail.com

CORAZON AQUINO
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