Corazon Cojuangco Aquino

Corazon "Cory" C. Aquino was the eleventh and first woman president of the Philippines. She was born on January 25, 1933 into a wealthy and politically prominent family based in Tarlac province which is north of Manila. Her parents were Jose Cojuangco and Demetria Sumulong.

She graduated valedictorian of her elementary class at St. Scholastica's College and her first year in high school was spent in the Assumption Convent in Manila. In 1946 her family left for the United States and she was enrolled at Ravenhill Academy in Philadelphia. Corazon finished her junior and senior years at Notre Dame. In 1949, she entered Mount St. Vincent College in New York where she graduated in 1954 with a bachelor of arts degree majoring in French.

She returned to the Philippines after graduation and planned on taking up law at the Far Eastern University. However, in 1956, she married Sen. Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino who was then a promising young politician also from Tarlac. She remained in the background during her husband's subsequent political career, rearing their five children at home and later in exile in the United States. Although she did not have any experience in politics, Cory Aquino's relatives were mostly politicians. Her brother, Jose Cojuangco and her uncle were both congressmen.

In 1983 she succeeded her husband who was assassinated upon his return to the Philippines in August 21, 1983 to participate in promised elections. In the turmoil that erupted over his murder, the widowed Corazon became the symbol of moral opposition to the Marcos government. A movement against Marcos came about since it was believed that he was instrumental in the death of Ninoy Aquino. It was also the desire of the Filipino people to put an end to the 20 years of dictatorship. This movement, which was led by Cory Aquino, escalated nationwide and involved the support of the coalition of people of all ages and from practically all walks of life.

Marcos, thinking that he still had the Filipino people behind him, called for a "Snap Election" in 1986. Corazon then became the unified opposition's candidate for the presidency. Though she was officially reported to have lost the election to Marcos, Aquino and the numerous independent observers challenged the results, charging widespread voting fraud by the supporters of Marcos.

Senior and other ranking officers in the military organization soon publicly renounced Marcos' continued dictatorial rule and supported Aquino. On Feb. 25, 1986, both Aquino and Marcos were inaugurated as president by their respective supporters. This led to the "People's Revolution" which resulted finally in the downfall of Marcos. At the height of the revolution, Marcos fled the country at the urging of the U.S. government and Aquino's new administration was officially recognized upon his departure for Hawaii. In March 1986 Aquino proclaimed a provisional Constitution and soon thereafter appointed a commission to write a new Constitution. The resulting document was ratified by a landslide popular vote in February 1987.

In spite of her continued popular support, Aquino faced an ongoing outcry over economic injustice, a problem that was only provoked by continuing warfare between the communist insurgency and a military whose loyalties to Aquino were uncertain. Although there were numerous attempted & executed military coups during her term, none of these was able to put down the new government.

In her state-of-the nation address of July 22, 1991, Aquino listed down some of the main achievements of her administration and these included the following: Return of democracy to the country, ratification of the Constitution, having free and credible elections, independence of the Judiciary and Legislative bodies, and freedom of the press. The critics of the new administration were quick to point out the apparent weakness that seemed to delay bold initiatives to resolve persistent poverty, the crime wave, spiraling inflation and the breakdown of public utilities and services.

In an unprecedented speech which she delivered at the University of the Philippines, known as the hotbed of critics, Aquino received a standing ovation as she assessed the gains and pains of her term. "It is true you cannot eat freedom and you cannot power machinery with democracy," she said, "But then neither can political prisoners turn on the light in the cells of a dictatorship."

Corazon Aquino served for only one term which lasted for six years as defined by the new Constitution. She decided not to seek a re-election and was succeeded in 1992 by Fidel V. Ramos whom she appointed earlier as Secretary of National Defense in her administration.

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