THE death of Corazon Aquino from colon cancer brings an end to a remarkable saga in Philippine history. The quiet, unassuming woman who found herself thrust into an epic struggle against the dictatorial Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 would go on to emerge triumphant and take charge of the country. It was her determination to have Marcos voted out of office - and she did that through pitting herself against him at the elections, though he attempted to repudiate the results - that was to open the door to a new future for her people. A glimpse of that future came through the People Power revolution she spearheaded and then translated into a political process that was fundamentally a reinvention of democracy.
The irony is that Corazon Aquino was not supposed to be where she found herself, that is, in politics. But when her husband, the relentless crusader for democracy named Benigno Aquino, was gunned down as he stepped on Philippine soil after returning home from exile in 1983, it was she to whom a disoriented opposition turned for leadership. She soon transformed that popular confidence in her leadership into a moral crusade, a phase that was to lead to her assumption of office as president. She spent altogether six years in office, resolutely trying to steer the country towards a new beginning even as her government investigated corruption charges against the Marcos clan. It was not all smooth sailing for her because of the repeated coup attempts made against her government, seven in all. And yet Aquino remained unnerved. She was fortunate that individuals like Fidel Ramos stood behind her; that the nation was with her. Most significantly, it was her faith in democracy that sustained her in her moments of crisis.
The Philippines is today a better, safer place because of the pivotal role Corazon Aquino played at a decisive moment in its history. A woman of huge self-esteem, Ms. Aquino made sure that similar self-esteem was restored in the lives of her people after the long kleptocracy of the Marcoses. And she succeeded.
We remember Corazon Aquino for the voice of democracy she was and always will be in history. (By The Daily Star/ANN)