The Philippines is in a state of national mourning after Corazon Aquino, who became the country's president after leading the fight to topple the Marcos dictatorship, died at 3:18 am of Saturday, Aug. 1, from cardiorespiratory arrest. She was 76.
The murder of her husband oppositionist former Sen. Benigno S. Aquino Jr. widowed her in 1983.
By 1985 she gave in to the growing clamor that she fight Ferdinand Marcos in a “snap election”. Weeks after the fraudulent elections, a popular uprising now known as People Power booted out Marcos and installed Aquino as president. Aquino thus became the first woman president of the Philippines and the first female head of state in Asia.
Know more about her in this substantive New York Times obituary.
TV and radio networks carried live the Aquino family's announcement of her passing made in the wee hours of the morning on Saturday, and immediately started blow-by-blow coverage of the events after her death, taking the reactions from prominent Filipinos, showing old speeches and interviews of Aquino, and played songs and hymns that were part of the soundtrack of the movement to oust the Marcos dictatorship.
President Arroyo declared 10 days of national mourning in honor of Aquino. The former president had been critical of Arroyo and had twice called on Arroyo to resign from the presidency.
Even as the mainstream media devoted time for the Aquino death coverage, most of the views come from powerful Filipinos. Ordinary Filipinos, mostly from the middle class, used the web, especially blogs, microblogs and social networking sites, to give tribute to Aquino.
“Its a sad morning for the Philippines,” wrote Inghinyero.com, echoing sentiments of most Filipinos who woke up Saturday to news that Aquino had died.
In less than three hours since news broke, “Corazon Aquino” and “Cory Aquino” became trending topics on Twitter as Filipinos expressed their sadness and mourning online.
Babelmachine reported livestreaming of Aquino videos as the nation mourned and took note of yellow ribbons on avatars of Filipino Twitter users. Yellow was Aquino's campaign color in 1986 when she ran against the dictator Marcos.
The blog Vindication of a Fool stated that
in the next few days, we shall be hearing a lot of tributes for the late president. She deserves every bit of them. The nation has lost a moral compass and servant leader.
The words, “a grateful nation thanks you for your service,” seem hollow when applied to Corazon Aquino. The Filipino owes Cory Aquino a debt that can never be repaid, only rejuvenated as we carry on, as we soldier on, building our nation.
In a tribute to her “quiet dignity” even as she faced cancer, Far From Neutral republished Aquino's “Prayer for a Happy Death” which came out at about the time she entered the hospital.
EdericEder.com wrote in Filipino:
Sa paglisan ni Pangulong Cory, pag-ibig, pananampalataya, at pag-asa ang iniiwan niya sa atin.
Sa pagpanaw ng simbolo ng demokrasya, muling napupukaw ang mga alaala ng isang maningning na yugto ng ating kasaysayan nang tayo’y nagkaisang bawiin ang ating kalayaan at maghangad ng bagong Pilipinas.
With the passing of the icon of democracy, we wake up memories of a shining moment in our history when we united to take back our freedom and to dream of a new Philippines.
It's not very often that I feel sad for a passing of a public figure. I didn't feel sad when MJ passed but, with Tita Cory, I am sad and actually shocked about it. Although her vital signs were not as good before this, I had hope that she would recover.
“A lot of public figures have retreated to their final resting place already but none of them had blown such an impact on me than Tita Cory,” according to Bahay ni Badong.
A student leader and blogger wrote that
[Aquino] once have said in an inspiring message, and I quote, “I am burning the candle of my life in the dark, with no one to benefit from the light. The candle slowly melts away. Soon its wick will burn out, and the light is gone. If only someone will gather the melted wax, reshape it, give it a new wick. For another fleeting moment, my candle can once again light the dark, be of service one more time, and then, goodbye.”
and added that:
Now that there's already a lit path because of you, I take the challenge to be the wick of your remolded candle, ignite anew, and share the light to others, who still are in the dark. This is my promise, until another gathers our melted wax, and be its wick for the next generation.
Writing in Filipino, Ang Sa Wari Ko said:
Ina, ito ang siyng naging imahe niya simula noong pinangunahan niya ang laban kontra sa Martial Law ng rehimen ni Ferdinand Marcos, sa pamamagitan ng EDSA Revolution. Sa kanyang tapang at ginawa sa bansa ay hinirang siyang unang babaeng pangulo ng bansa.
An Apple A Day remembered:
Family. Faith. Love for country. Commitment. Forgiveness. And honesty. Those are just some of the things that I have learned from Cory. She lived it and breathed it. She was not just our president, she was a mother to all of us. The mother who saw us get out of an ugly regime that sowed the seeds of corruption, dishonesty and greed.
A blogger at Filipino Voices also wrote that
“Cory Aquino has left us with the ‘L” sign as a constant reminder that our freedoms can only stay with us if we fight for them”,
referring to the hand signal of the anti-Marcos opposition.
Travel blog Habagat Central retraced the “road to freedom” to honor Aquino.
akomismo, a blog of a high school social studies teacher, lamented a low regard for or mistaken notion of Aquino among his students when they discuss previous Philippine presidents.
Theanthology, a blog of a journalist, remembered being “in awe” when she had a chance to speak with her:
I was lucky to have asked Cory a few questions in ambush interviews. In one coverage, she did not answer questions but when I asked, she turned and looked at me and gave me a one-liner. I was in awe I forgot to ask a follow up. That was in 2006.
Mike in Manila, a blog by a another journalist, remembered Aquino and said:
Not everyone may have agreed with her point of view on the issues, but no one could question her personal integrity – nor her commitment to democracy. But Citizen Cory as she liked to be called after stepping down from power in what had been the first of three peaceful turnovers of transition in the country.Albeit the 4th turnover and her own rise to power came at the hands of ‘people power’ popular revolts.
mistervader had this to say to Aquino's detractors who “spit on her grave”:
I look at all this Cory-bashing, all these people who are taking the time to spit on her grave, not with sadness or anger, but with a sense of sardonic irony. Is it not a paradoxical celebration of Cory's indisputable role in the freedom we enjoy today precisely in that we are all free to malign her and belittle that achievement? To me, it is the truest and greatest acknowledgment of the freedom we currently enjoy and wish to safeguard and hone further from the clutches of the current powers that be. So I say to those who bash her, bash away, if you will. As a free man as you are, I will likewise choose to honor her in her passing instead.
In an apparent dig at the current de-facto president's seeming refusal to accept the impending end of her term of office, a blogger pointed out that “called to greatness she (Aquino) was, and reluctantly did she accept her role — but with all willingness to return it to the country when her time was done.”
An editor at alternative online news magazine Bulatlat meanwhile said that
Cory is much unlike the second woman to become president, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who is attempting to emulate Marcos by attempting to become a dictator and trying to outdo Marcos in corruption and human-rights violations. Seeing this, Cory Aquino had to rise again to the occasion and ask Arroyo to resign. She became one of the guiding forces of the movement to oust Arroyo. Cory fought tyranny to the very end.
Meanwhile, Ganns Dean addressed his Aquino tribute to current President Arroyo:
You will never be the woman Corazon Aquino was, and I hope her death – with you still out of the country, courting Barack Obama shamelessly – and the nation’s reaction to it will wake you to the realization that all the “accomplishments” in the past nine years you’ve led us, brought out at your penultimate valedictory work of fiction that you call a SONA, will never compare to the shameful legacy of corruption and iron-strong clinging to power that has characterized your tenure as president.
The blogger added that
There are tears in my eyes, but these are not solely for the death of one of the nation’s most beloved leaders. These are tears I weep out of frustration that the current crop of nation’s leaders do not share Cory’s heart and love for us. These are tears of sorrow that it has come to this, that the country’s matriarch is gone, and no one looms bright over the horizon to serve as the country’s guardian angel.
The D Spot urged everyone:
With the death of our beloved President Corazon Aquino, let us not feel as though we were orphaned, “hindi tayo nag-iisa”. We just have to rise—we must, and pick up the pieces. Let Ninoy’s and Tita Cory’s deaths not be in vain. She must be in Heaven now, continuously interceding for us, her crusade for a free Filipino, emancipated from the evils of corruption. Let us continue the crusade—the yellow ribbons must not only be physical. Let them be a reminder to all of us, to do our share, no matter how small, in helping create a better Philippines
The tributes continue to pour in across the Philippine blogosphere: DeoDuey.com, My Freedom Wall, Paradox of Irony, I'm Walking Alone, Oh-Wheezers, Mark Bravo, GameOPS, Geekothon.com, Lalaine's World, Barrio Siete, Captain's Log, silver, The DJ who's not a DeeJay, Snow World, Deantastic!, The Marocharim Experiment, smoke, Jon Magat, Digiputz.com, Bikoy.net, Pagod Ka Na Bang Maging Si Juan?, Jose C. Camano, edwinsoriano.com, BendzG, Emil Amok, The Struggling Blogger, Coffeedrunk, AttyAtWork, ade magnaye, baddieverse, ARTUJI, and Your Majesty Sire.
Aquino's remains are now at the De La Salle Greenhills gymnasium, where a citizens’ quick count was held in the 1986 snap presidential elections. A TV network is broadcasting the wake via livestream. They will be transferred to the Manila Cathedral on Monday (Aug. 3).
The Aquino family has refused the offer of a state funeral complete with military honors befitting a (former) head of state, and have announced a private burial.
Burial has been set on Wednesday (Aug. 5), which President Arroyo has proclaimed as a special non-working holiday to give Filipinos time to honor their departed Democracy Icon. Aquino's remains will be entomed at a grave beside that of her husband, Benigno “Ninoy” S. Aquino Jr.