MARIA CORAZON COJUANGCO AQUINO
(January 25,1933- August 1, 2009)

          Maria Corazon Cojuangco Aquino was the eleventh and first woman President of the Philippines.

          She was born on January 25, 1933 in Manila, the sixth of the eight children of Don Jose Cojuanco Sr., lawyer, congressman representing Tarlac, sugar magnate and banker, and Doña Demetria Sumulong, a pharmacist and member of a politically famous clan from Rizal province.

         Her formative years were spent at St. Scholastica’s College and the Assumption Convent in Manila. In 1946 the Cojuanco family left for the United States and she entered Ravenhill Academy in Philadelphia, but later enrolled at, and graduated from, the Notre Dame Convent School in New York. She continued her studies at College of Mount St. Vincent also in New York, where she took up French as major and mathematics as minor. Back in Manila, she enrolled in law at Far Eastern University but her studies were cut short when she married Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. on October 11, 1954 at Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Pasay City. They had five children namely, Maria Elena, Aurora Corazon, Benigno III, Victoria Elisa and Kristina Bernadette.

          Her first exposure to the world of Philippine politics began shortly after the birth of their first child, in November of 1955, when her husband became the mayor of Concepcion, Tarlac. But Ninoy lost his seat after two years on account of his being nineteen days younger than the age required for the office of mayor at the time of his election. In the next local election, Ninoy became the youngest vice-governor of Tarlac and after serving a term as governor of Tarlac, Ninoy ran for the Senate and won. Mrs. Aquino quietly and wholeheartedly supported all her husband’s aspirations.

          After Ninoy’s assassination, Corazon C. Aquino was thrust into the limelight. She returned home from Boston and became the unofficial leader of the opposition to the Marcos regime. President Ferdinand Marcos signed Cabinet Bill Number 7 which formally set the presidential poll on February 7, 1986. The next day, Cory Aquino announced that she would run.

          The incumbent President Marcos and former Senator Arturo Tolentino ran against Corazon Aquino and Salvador H. Laurel. In the controversial election, Marcos won in the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) count and was proclaimed president by the rubber-stamp Batasang Pambansa. Aquino led in the National Citizens Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) tally and called for a nationwide protest movement against widespread cheating in the elections.

     The tide began to turn when a faction of the military mutinied against the Marcos administration on February 22, 1986. Two of the administration’s highest officials-Minister of Defense Juan Ponce Enrile and Vice Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Fidel V. Ramos- announced the withdrawal of their allegiance upon being implicated in a rebellion charge. Such action of breaking up from the administration signaled the start of the People Power Revolution. Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin enjoined the Filipino people to pray and keep vigil around Camp Aguinaldo and Camp Crame, in EDSA, Quezon City. Heeding his call, civilians turned out by the thousands to protect the soldiers.

         On February 25, 1986, Corazon Aquino took her oath of office as President together with Salvador Laurel in the presence of Justice Claudio Teehankee at Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan. President Aquino was immediately recognized by the Filipino people as well as by other foreign leaders. She called on all appointed officials to submit their courtesy resignation beginning with the members of the Supreme Court.

           On March 25, 1986, she proclaimed a Freedom Constitution, giving her dictatorial powers. And after a few days, the Constitution of 1973 and the Batasang Pambansa were abolished. President Aquino, however, had no intentions of remaining a dictator. She issued Proclamation No. 9 on April 23 calling for the convening of the Constitutional Commission (CONCOM) on June 2. She appointed fifty commissioners in May 1986 to write the new document. The CONCOM elected former Supreme Court Justice Cecilia Muñoz Palma as president and former Senator Ambrosio Padilla as vice-president. It finished its assigned task in record time on October 15, 1986 and the result became known as the Constitution of 1987 as it was ratified in a plebiscite held on February 2, 1987.

          Seven major coup attempts occurred between July 1986 and December of 1989 against her administration. These were the coup attempts of November 1986 and August 1987 led by the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) and four were attempts of high ranking military still loyal to President Marcos. The last major effort to depose Aquino, in December 1989, and the one that came closest to toppling her was a joint effort of the RAM and the Marcos loyalists. But an overwhelming vote for the May legislative elections proved that most Filipinos supported Aquino’s administration.

          Significant legislation were approved during the term of President Aquino includes The Local Government  Code of 1991; The Family Code of 1987; The Administrative Code of 1987 and The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Act of 1987. One of her major achievements was the performance of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), the only government financial institution whose rehabilitation was not funded by the government. It more than doubled its assets and even had a surplus of over P100 million pesos to turn over to the National Treasury.

            In 1987, the TIME Magazine named her 1986 Person of the Year. On January of 2001, Cory was among the first few thousand people in EDSA endorsing the impeachment of President Joseph Estrada, a gathering dubbed as “People Power II.”

            In 2006, former President Aquino graced the cover of TIME MAGAZINE’s issue called “60 YEARS OF ASIAN HEROES.”

         Cory’s children announced on March 24, 2008 in a public statement that President Aquino had been diagnosed with colon cancer. She was confined at the Makati Medical Center and started chemotherapy. On December 22, she apologized to former President Estrada for helping oust him in January of 2001. On June 22, 2009 she was confined at Makati Medical Center due to lack of appetite and on June 30, a 9-day healing mass for her was held at Greenbelt Chapel in Makati City.

            On August 1, 2009, at six in the morning Senator Benigno Aquino III announced that  Pres. Aquino died at around 3:18 in the morning.

 


Sources:

 

Cory an Intimate Portrait, Margie Penson-Juico, 2009

The Philippine Presidents and Other Nation Builders,
Rosario P. Nem Singh, 2004

The Presidents of the Philippines and their Inaugural
Addresses, J. Eduardo Malaya & Jonathan E. Malaya, 2004

Philippine Presidents 100 Years, Rosario Mendoza Cortes, 1999

Biographies & Pictures: The Presidents Republic of the Philippines
Rheno A. Velasco, 1996

Mga Pangulo ng Pilipinas, Lydia Gonzales-Garcia, 1994

The Making of Cory, Miguela Gonzalez-Yap, 1987

Cory Profile of a President, Isabelo T. Crisostomo, 1986

The President of the Philippines, Eduardo Bananal, 1986

 WikiPedia- Ang Malayan Ensiklopedya