Dictatorship Is Iike a big proud ship-steaming away across the ocean with a great hulk and powerful engines driving it. It’s going tast and strong and looks like nothing could stop It. What happens? Your fine ship strikes something-under the surface. Maybe it’s a mine or a reef, maybe It’s a torpedo or an iceberg. And your wonderful ship sinks! Now take Democracy. It’s like riding on a raft, a rickety raft that was put together in a hurry. We get tossed about on the waves, it’s bad going, and our feet are always wet.
But the raft doesn’t sink… lt’s the raft that will get to the shore at last. ” This Is how democracy Is viewed by the businessman. Indeed, democracy Is a word that unites and pleases all the people. It also brings hope and peace to a nation. But what does democracy really means? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Democracy means “a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of epresentation usually involving periodically held free elections. Another meaning of democracy is “a political form of government in which governing power is derived from the people, either by direct referendum (direct democracy) or by means of elected representauves of the people (representative democracy).
The term comes trom the Greek: bnpoxpatla – (demokratia) “rule ot the people”, which was coined from &ipoq (d mos) “people” and Kproq (Kratos) “power”, in the middle of the 5th-4th century 3C to denote the political systems then existing in some Greek city- states. otably Athens following a popular uprising in 508 BC. Democracy played a vital role in the Philippines. The Americans introduced this kind of government to us when they got our country from the Spaniards 112 years ago. The Philippine Presidents taking oath after the rule of American regime implemented the same form of government until a dictator emerged In the personality of President Ferdinand E. Marcos. President Marcos declared Martial Law on September 23, 1972 by virtue of Proclamation No. 1081 .
Marcos, ruling by decree, curtailed press freedom and other civil liberties, closed down Congress and media establishments, and ordered the rrest of opposition leaders and militant activists, including his staunchest critics. senators Benigno Aquino, Jr. ,Jovito Salonga and Jose Diokno. The declaration of exiled in the U. S for three years, the Filipino opposition activist Benigno Aquino was assassinated on the tarmac of Manila airport on 21 August 1983, moments after his return to the country to challenge the rule of long-term president, Ferdinand Marcos.
That was also the day Maria Corazon Sumulong CoJuangco-Aquino stopped being, in her words, “Just a housewife”. Before we go further, let’s know more about “Ninoys Wife” first. Corazon CoJuangco was born the sixth of eight children in Tarlac, a member of one of the richest Chinese-mestizo families in the Philippines. She was born to Jose CoJuangco of Tarlac and Demetria Sumulong of Antipolo, Rizal. Her ancestry was one-eighth Tagalog in maternal side, one-eighth Kapampangan and one-fourth Spanish in her paternal side, and half-Chinese in both maternal and paternal sides.
She was sent to St. Scholastica’s College Manila and finished grade school as class valedictorian in 1943. In 1946, she studied high school for one year in Assumption Convent Manila. Later she was sent overseas to study in Ravenhill Academy in Philadelphia, the Notre Dame Convent School in New York, and the College of Mount Saint Vincent, also in New York. She worked as a volunteer in the 1948 United States presidential campaign of Republican Thomas Dewey against President Harry Truman. She studied liberal arts and graduated in 1953 with a Bachelor of Arts in French Language, with a minor in mathematics.
She intended to become a math teacher and language interpreter. Aquino returned to the Philippines to study law at the Far Eastern University, owned by the family of the late Nicanor Reyes, Sr. , who had been the father-in-law of her older sister Josephine. She gave up her law studies when in 1954, she married Benigno Servillano “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr. the son of a former Speaker of the National Assembly.
They had five children together: a son, Benigno Simeon Aquino Ill, who was elected as the 1 5th President of the Philippine Republic in May 2010, and four daughters, Maria Elena A. Cruz, Aurora Corazon A. Abellada, Victoria Eliza A. Dee, and actress-television host Kristina Bernadette A. Yap. Aquino had initial difficulty adjusting to provincial life when she and her husband moved to Concepcion, Tarlac in 1955, after her husband had been lected the town’s mayor at the age of 22. The American-educated Aquino found herself bored in Concepcion, and welcomed the opportunity for she and her husband to have dinner inside the American military facility at nearby Clark Field.
Benigno Aquino soon emerged as a leading critic of the government of President Ferdinand Marcos of the Nacionalista Party, and there was wide speculation that he would run in the 1973 presidential elections, Marcos then being term limited. However, Marcos declared martial law on September 21, 1972, and later abolished the 1935 Constitution, allowing him to remain in office. Aquino’s husband was among those arrested at the onset of martial law, later being sentenced to death. During his incarceration, Aquino drew strength from prayer, attending daily mass and saying three rosaries a day.
As a measure of sacrifice, she enjoined her children from attending parties, and herself stopped from going to the beauty salon or buying new clothes, until a priest advised her and her children to instead live as normal lives as possible. In 1980, Aquino’s husband was released from Jail in order to undergo heart Harvard University for the next three years. His family lived with him in the Boston rea and his wife described the time as the best years of her life. In 1983 supporters of the anti-Marcos factions persuaded Aquino’s husband to return to the Philippines and to lead their cause.
When his plane landed on the tarmac of the Manila International Airport on August 21, 1983, Aquino’s husband was assassinated. Cory Aquino returned to the Philippines a few days later and led her husband’s funeral rites, where more than two million people were estimated to have participated, the biggest ever in Philippine history. From the moment of Ninoy Aquinds assassination, Corazon Aquino became an acclaimed public figure. The shy woman learned to address huge rallies. There was so much rage in her. It did not seem difficult to speak her mind out before thousands of people and to become gadfly her husband had been.
She prodded into action against the Marcos government, to demand an honest investigation into her husband’s murder. Marcos claimed the assassin was Galman, whom he described as a Communist. Somehow, Galman had slipped through the security cordon with a weapon and shot Aquino before guards killed him. A Marcos-appointed commission came to the same conclusion. More likely, Galman was set up as the fall guy and then killed to ensure is silence. Subsequent investigations revealed that Galman was a petty criminal with links to the police.
His family said that days before his death, Galman left his house in the company of several police and soldiers. Public pressure for Justice was strong. General Fabian Ver, Marcos’s chief of staff, and twenty-five others were tried for the murder but were acquitted in December 1985. This incident pushed the limit to Mrs. Aquino. After the death of Ninoy, a group later known as the ‘Convenors”, held their first meeting in October 1984, at the home of Cory Aquinds mother in the ealthy Dasmarihas Village subdivision in the town of Makati in the metropolitan Manila.
The convenors decided that three of their number would screen candidates and would choose one after consultation. The three were Ongpin, Cory Aquino and Lorenzo Tanada, venerable elder statesman of the opposition movement. During the convenors deliberations, Cory Aquino began to emerge as a political force in her own right, no longer simply the widow of Ninoy. At first, her role was to lend moral authority to the convenors, but Tanada and the others, despairing of the alternative, egan to see Aquino as the only candidate capable of uniting the opposition.
They needed a candidate with a reputation for personal integrity who could appeal to conservative communists, left-leaning progressives, and the broad masses. They also needed a candidate acceptable to Washington, which exerted broad influence in the Philippines, and which had long supported Marcos of a dearth of alternatives. Aquinds seeming lack of personal ambition and deep-seated ideology made her perfect for the task.
“l am Just one of the thousands and millions of victims of the Marcos Regime,” Cory would tell the crowds who came to hear her speak. am not the victim who has suffered the most, but perhaps the victim who is best known. I look around me and I see a nation that is sinking deeper and deeper into despair. I sense a growing feeling of helplessness and a creeping belief that no matter what abuse may be thrown at our faces, we are powerless to do anything about it. And since the Philippines needed an “unequivocal change” from the twenty-year rule of him for presidency. More than anyone, Cory Aquino knew the hard work, planning, meetings, and campaigning required. Like Ninoy, she was now away from home and the family for sixteen hours a day.
She campaigned like a trouper, answering nasty remarks with simple retorts. To the comment that she had no experience, she replied, “It is true that I have no experience in lying, cheating, stealing and killing. I offer you honesty and sincerity in leadership. To the others she promised, if elected, “not to live in Malacanang. I will open it up to the people. ” She spoke before women, peasants, workers, and students as well as upper-class civic groups. To them all, she was a symbol of an uncorrupted woman, a woman they could trust. She made no great promises about immediately solving the staggering problems of the bankrupt country.
It seemed enough, at the moment, to topple a brutal dictatorship, to restore civil rights and liberties, to open up “democratic space”, as she called it. Only with patience, and through “peace and reconciliation”, would the country be able to move forward. Her popularity reached a high point when one million people showed up at a post-election rally in Luneta Park in Manila on February 16. On February 25, Corazon Aquino was sworn in as the seventh president of the Philippines in a political upset that has been called historic. The New Year began with smiles and accolades.
President Aquino, a woman, was honored by Time Magazine as its “Man of he Year” for 1986. On January 19, she won the Martin Luther King Award for nonviolence. We are finally free, and we can truly be proud of the unprecedented way we achieved our freedom, with courage, with determination, and most important, in peace. A new life starts for our country. ” But making that new life work was proving extremely difficult, as the woman in charge of what everyone called “the Cory government” rolled up her sleeves and got down to work. Her first act after taking office was to appoint a presidential cabinet of seventeen advisers.
All of them had been opposed to President Marcos. Thirteen of them were lawyers, and five had attended Harvard University or Yale. Whatever their individual differences, the cabinet members got right down to work, too. Their first project was fguring how to run the government without having to abide by the structure set up by Ferdinand Marcos. Intent on upholding civil and human rights, she reestablished the writ of habeas corpus suspended by Marcos in 1971. Once again people were given protection against illegal imprisonment. She removed restraints on freedom of the press and on the rights of labor.
Fulfilling a campaign promise, she announced the nconditional release from Jail of some five hundred political prisoners, including communists, an act that drew both applause and criticism. By mid-March, the president created the Committee on Human Rights, abolished the old National Assembly filled with Marcos followers, and adopted a provisional Freedom Constitution. The opening up of democratic space was not only to benefit the people but necessary for the president herself. She is deeply committed to the democratic process, for through freedom of expression she can hear a broad range of popular opinion.