Philippines Table of Contents
President Corazon Aquino, 1986
Courtesy Robert L. Worden
Corazon Cojuangco Aquino, universally and affectionately known as "Cory," was a Philippine president quite unlike those who preceded her. Observers have groped for the right word to characterize the Aquino presidency. She was first called a "revolutionary," but later a mere "reformer." When the old landed families recaptured the political system, she was called a "restorationist."
She was born in 1933 into one of the richest clans in the Philippines, the powerful Cojuangcos of Tarlac Province. Her maiden name indicates Chinese mestizo ancestry; her Chinese great-grandfather's name could have been romanized to Ko Hwan-ko, but, following the normal practice of assimilationist Catholic Chinese-Filipinos, all the Chinese names were collapsed into one, and a Spanish first name was taken. Aquino neither sought power nor expected it would come to her. Her life was that of a privileged, well-educated girl sent abroad to the Ravenhill Academy in Philadelphia, the Notre Dame Convent School in New York, and Mount St. Vincent College, also in New York. She studied mathematics and graduated with a degree in French in 1953, then returned to the Philippines to study law, but soon married the restless, rich scion of another prominent Tarlac family, Benigno ("Ninoy") Aquino, Jr. Benigno Aquino became a mayor, a governor, and a flamboyant senator, and he probably would have been elected president of the Philippines in 1973 had Marcos not suspended elections. On the same night in 1972 when Marcos declared martial law, he sent troops to arrest Benigno Aquino. Senator Aquino was incarcerated for some seven years, after which Marcos allowed him to go to the United States. In August 1983, believing that Marcos was dying, Aquino ventured back to Manila and was gunned down just seconds after being escorted from the airplane (see From Aquino's Assassination to People's Power , ch. 1). Aquino's murder galvanized the Filipino people and was the beginning of the end for Marcos.
Data as of June 1991