CORAZON AQUINO

by Tim Sullivan

You know what's pretty fierce? Leading a revolution to topple the brutal 20+ year regime of a military dictator. It took a woman - Corazon Aquino.

Born in the Philippines in 1933, Cory married Ninoy Aquino, who soon became Ferdinand Marcos' most outspoken critic after Marcos declared martial law in 1972. She supported Ninoy's failed bid for a senate seat in 1978, after which he and his family were exiled to the United States.

Ninoy worked with allies across the region to put together a coup ousting Marcos, and he traveled back to the Philippines in an attempt to lead it. He was assassinated on the tarmac.

Cory, once a reluctant political figure, assumed her husband's mantle as Marcos' worst enemy, returning to her native land to lead protests and call for democratic reform. To dismiss critics and demonstrate his people's supposed loyalty, Marcos called for a surprise election in 1986. He wasn't counting on Cory.

Initially resisting calls to run, after over one million Filipinos signed a petition demanding she enter the race, this fierce female announced her candidacy for president. Marcos continued to dismiss Cory as "just a woman," and, giving the old trope a bracing twist, declared she belonged in the bedroom. On an election day that saw the assassination of one of Cory's political allies, ACTUAL voter fraud, coercion, voter suppression, and intimidation, it was clear that the people had chosen her.

Nevertheless, Marcos declared himself the victor, before two military leaders shocked the world by defecting, declaring Cory to be the winner. She then led three days of peaceful protest, known as the People Power Revolution, before finally being sworn in as President. She was the first female President in all of Asia. She was named Time's Woman of the Year in 1986 - one of just three women so recognized prior to 2000 (and the only one who was not a member of the British royal family).

 

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