By Patricia H. Kushlis
Corazon C. Aquino (1933-2009) was never supposed to be President of the Philippines but she was - from 1986 to 1992. Her candidacy for the country’s highest office – through an election she and her supporters challenged as fraudulent – ultimately broke the back of the seemingly entrenched and generally despised dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos who had been in power since 1965.
This unassuming, attractive, petite, gentle but determined American-educated woman will always be remembered by what came to be known as “People Power” and its symbols: the brilliant yellow color she often wore and Aquino’s own special L-shaped hand sign (which stood for "Laban" or "fight" in Filipino.) The EDSA Revolution as it was also called - named after the major artery where the large anti-Marcos demonstrations were centered - turned into a huge popular outpouring of support – from the left, the poor, the Roman Catholic Church and its leader Jaime Cardinal Sin, the Makati business elite, cultural figures and, of course, academics and students. They came out en masse– especially Manila’s middle classes - when the call came.
The Roman Catholic Church's Moral Authority
The Church’s pulpits and Veritas, its influential alternative radio station, had summoned Filipinos into Manila's streets that February thereby providing the moral force behind the growing opposition to an increasingly unpopular regime. Marcos was already losing power. He had been since at least 1983 when he allegedly instigated the murder of (Ninoy) Benigno Aquino, Cory’s husband, on the tarmac at Manila’s international airport as he stepped off the plane from political exile in the US. Ninoy Aquino became the martyr the revolution needed to galvanize the opposition.