The woman who brought morals to politics & won a nation’s heart
As I read the news of her demise on my flight from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur, I felt very sad. I had never met Corazon Aquino but I did remember when Cory was suddenly pushed into public life after the assassination of her husband Benigno Aquino. Everyone referred to her as a reluctant leader which she was, but she brought with her a breath of fresh air to Philippine politics. She was honest, humble and felt a moral responsibility to rid the country of a dictator who had been at the helm of affairs for 20 years.
Even as a young person living in Hong Kong at the time, I was drawn to what became the “People Power” movement in the Philippines. The yellow signature dress, the yellow t-shirts, flags and caps, the yellow ribbons everywhere. Cory had inspired and won the hearts of the people of her country and they came out in droves to support this woman who wanted to bring about change. In 1986 she fulfilled her husband’s dream of ridding the country of Ferdinand Marcos through a democratic movement that the world watched with admiration.
As we observed a few moments of silence at the MDG3 Asia Regional Workshop in KL to show our respect, the Philipino delegates could not hold back their emotions and broke into tears. She stood for something special – a moral leader who was loved. In her election campaign she had said “I agree with my critics that I do not have the years of experience that Marcos does – the years of practising corruption, dishonesty and misuse of power … ” but she promised to serve to the best of her ability.
It is no wonder then that the people of the Philippines came out in the hundreds of thousands to bid farewell to a rare breed of politician – a moral one who discharged her responsibilities ethically. In the eulogy at her mother’s funeral, Cory’s daughter Kim said that the Philipino people honoured her family by coming out into the streets and expressing their grief at her mother’s death. She said that although she had lost both her parents, her family believed that any sacrifice they made the people of the Philippines were worth it.
Rest in peace Cory! You showed women everywhere what it is to be brave and how morals and ethics can be an integral part of politics.