2 greats of August
Their critics’ penchant to exaggerate and lie, make less of a hero, and rewrite history is overcome by the fact that history favors these two “August souls.”
Millions of Filipinos mourned when Corazon Aquino passed away on Aug 1, 2009, and her political rivals had a major rethink on how the icon of democracy and mother of people power managed to engage and remained popular with the public 17 years after leaving the presidency on June 30, 1992.
By unlocking the gates of freedom throughout the nation, Cory Aquino drew greatness and grew her legacy:
Under Ferdinand Marcos in 1985, GNP growth was negative 4.1 percent; it rose to 1.9 percent a year after the first Edsa revolution in 1986, and averaged 6.1 percent in 1987-1989.
She dismantled the monopoly of Marcos cronies in the sugar and coconut industries, changed the tariff system amid protests from interest groups, and deregulated several industries.
She turned around the Philippine National Bank, Development Bank of the Philippines, Landbank, and the Government Service Insurance System left bankrupt by Marcos. The GSIS more than doubled its assets and had a surplus of over P100 million, which was turned over to the National Treasury in 1991, the year before her term as president ended.
The 1987 Constitution under her administration was ratified with 76-percent support from Filipino voters.
She did not seek reelection even if the single-term limit did not apply to her, having taken her post under the old Constitution.
She increased the salary of teachers and soldiers, raised the government pension from P200 to P1,000, and provided free public high school education.
She is the only Philippine president who designated Dec. 14 as National Prayer Day, leading the people with unflinching faith in God.
Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. returned home from exile on Aug. 21, 1983, in the dark years of martial law, when socioeconomic and political collapse seemed imminent. He fought the dictatorship and believed that the Filipino was worth dying for.
We remember this charismatic leader, who sacrificed his life to restore freedom and democracy from Marcos’ years of tyranny, as:
A man in a hurry—a correspondent covering the Korean War at age 17, a recipient of a Legion of Honor award from President Elpidio Quirino (18), a close adviser to then Defense Secretary Ramon Magsaysay (21), the youngest elected Philippine mayor (22), vice governor (27), governor (29), and top senator (34).
Magsaysay’s emissary who secured the unconditional surrender of Luis Taruc, the leader of the Hukbalahap rebel group.
Author of the “Study Now, Pay Later” program for poor but deserving college students.
Marcos’ staunchest critic who exposed the dictator’s plan to declare martial law in order to extend his power and enrich himself more, leaving a $25-billion debt and bankrupt economy as legacy.
A political prisoner for seven years and seven months.
An exile in the United States who continuously spoke of the excesses of Marcos’ dictatorial rule.
Ninoy Aquino’s assassination at the then Manila International Airport led to protest rallies and marches and massive civil disobedience, ultimately leading to the People Power revolution that booted out the dictator-plunderer Marcos from Malacañang in 1986.
Wrote author Elfren S. Cruz: “Two scenes—Rizal being shot by Spanish soldiers in Luneta (Dec. 30, 1896) and Ninoy’s body lying still on the tarmac (Aug. 21, 1983)—are among the most heroic images in Philippine history. These two scenes have depicted the ideals of Filipino heroism and love of freedom.”
Pit M. Maliksi was most outstanding professor for 10 years at PUP-Santo Tomas, Batangas. He founded Mga Apo Ni Tomas, a civic society of 1,000 young professionals.
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