MANILA – The death of President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino – "Tita Cory" to most of the 92 million people of the Philippines – left behind a precious inheritance: a legacy of freedom that the Philippines came to share with oppressed peoples around the world. For her revolution was the first of the wave of “velvet revolutions” that liberated countless millions from Manila to Seoul to Johannesburg to Prague, Warsaw and Moscow. President Aquino’s "People Power" revolution, indeed, is among the proudest moments in my country’s history, and the distinctive contribution of our people to the saga of mankind's long struggle for freedom and dignity.
Cory Aquino motivated ordinary Filipinos to peaks of daring and selflessness at a time when their spirit had almost been broken by a 14-year dictatorship. While her husband Ninoy Aquino lived, she – as the unassuming but caring housewife – was the stabilizing influence that tempered his dynamic personality. But after the assassination of Senator Ninoy Aquino in August 1983, she stepped resolutely into his role as political leader of my country’s democratic opposition to an entrenched despotic regime.
Devoid of histrionics, without pretension – "simply by telling people what the dictator has done to this country" – she touched the hearts of freedom-loving Filipinos everywhere, the pain of the traumatic murder by the regime of her husband evoking in them memories of their own suffering and thwarted hopes.
It was in her name that concerned Filipinos mobilized families and neighbors to confront the tanks, guns and barbed wire of the dictator's cohorts. And, in God's infinite wisdom, the militancy of common people burst forth in the non-violent revolution that overthrew Ferdinand Marcos.