Undeniably, former president Cory Aquino is not just an icon of democracy--she was its staunchest defender. During her term as president, she survived seven coup attempts, the last was in 1989, when rebel soldiers nearly brought the government to its knees. At that time, many commented about her weak leadership, since most thought that it was not a fitting time for someone, a lady and a "mere" housewife, to lead a young nation out of tyranny. Yet, Cory succeeded. She not only revived institutions of governance but through her sheer moral leadership, brought back the people's trust and confidence in their government. It was only during her time as president that that famed "people's park" in Malacanang truly lived up to its name.
Cory was never our weakest leader. Truly, she was our strongest. Her work in the restoration of our democratic institutions is no easy walk in the park. Those were the times when forces were at work to rewrite or reconfigure the ideals which her husband fought for and standing tall against these forces show not just a strong fortitude of spirit, but of sheer courage and strength of convictions.
Truly, our weakest leaders are those who resort to underhanded tactics and weaken our institutions for the sake of their own personal desires and thirsts for power.
I think the greatest contribution of Cory Aquino to all of us is she was the illustrious example of a Filipino citizen; someone who never forgot her duties and responsibilities as a part of the Filipino Nation. Cory imparted to us the message that, service for one's nation means standing up when injustice exists. That each and every Filipino citizen has the duty and the responsibility of defending democracy at all costs.
Service to the Nation means doing the right thing whenever democracy is threatened by elite domination. Service means sacrificing one's own life for the sake of others. And service means getting out of one's comfort zones so that others may have a better chance in life.
Cory Aquino was an illustrious member of her class, but never acted like one. She never cheated an ordinary citizen out of their monies. She never tried to fool them with overarching promises. She never even dared to exploit their weaknesses when she was president. And she never used the office and the power entrusted to her for her fiduciary gain. We can even say that Cory belonged to us, the unwashed Filipino masses, who, like her, longed for a Truthful, Just and Humane Filipino society.
Cory Aquino was our First True Filipino Citizen. Whenever the Motherland needed her, Cory was there. When the Motherland needed her in 2000 to fight a morally decrepit regime, Cory went out of retirement and marched with the people. When Arroyo cheated her way to power and threatened to again plunged this country to a conjugal dictatorship, Cory Aquino was also there. She was the only one among our leaders who knew and lived her oath of allegiance to the pursuit of the Filipino People's welfare.
Cory Aquino was also a dutiful wife to her martyred husband, Ninoy. She never brought dishonor to her husband's illustrious name. In fact, because of her work in democracy, Cory honored her husband. Her love for Ninoy and the causes that defined him was her only inspiration.
For all my Filipino brothers and sisters, I urge every one of us to forever keep Cory in our hearts. Emulate her. Be one with her cause. Strive to be like Cory. Keep her legacy always burning in our hearts forever.