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[a kE' nO] President of the Philippines

Corazon Aquino

Maria Corazon Sumulong Cojuangco was born into a very wealthy family in Manila on January 25, 1933. Her childhood life was one of privilege. She was educated at the Assumption Convent in the Philippines; Ravenhill Academy in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Notre Dame Convent School in New York; the College of Mount Saint Vincent in Riverdale, New York (Bachelor of Arts, 1953); and Far Eastern University in the Philippines.

In 1955, she married Benigno Aquino, Jr., who had just been elected Mayor of Concepcion. Benigno rose through the political ranks to be a Governor and then a Senator, but ran afoul of President Ferdinand Marcos when he joined the growing ranks of Filippinos protesting Marcos' rule. On the same night in 1972 when Marcos declared martial law, he sent troops to arrest Benigno. After serving a seven-year prison sentence, he and Corazon were allowed to go to the United States. On August 21, 1983, believing that Marcos was dying, the Aquinos decided it was time to return to the Philippines; Benigno was gunned down just minutes after his plane landed at the airport in Manilla.

The murder of her husband propelled Corazon into the spotlight, and into the "snap elections" called by Marcos for February 1986. She had plenty of public support, but no political experience or backing. The only other candidate who had a chance to unseat Marcos was Salvador H. Laurel, who had plenty of political experience but no public support. After difficult negotiations, Laurel agreed to run for Vice-President on a ticket with Aquino. The election, held on February 7, 1986, was marred by gross fraud, voter intimidation, ballot box stuffing, and falsified tabulation; these acts were committed by both sides. Although the true tally will never be known, Aquino was declared the winner.


Aquino assumed the office of President on February 25, 1986. Her first act was to establish a revolutionary government under the terms of a provisional "Freedom Constitution," legally establishing the structure of the government pending the adoption of a permanent, democratically-drafted constitution. A Constitutional Commission was appointed in late 1986, and the new Constitution was ratified on February 7, 1987.

Although Aquino initially enjoyed widespread support, her time in office was a desperate struggle to survive a succession of coup attempts and Cabinet in-fighting, both physically and politically. Marcos loyalists, backed by a substantial guerrilla force, continued to oppose the government. As her administration struggled to undo the damage done to the Philippine economy by Marcos, the same public which had so overwhelmingly favored Aquino became more and more disgruntled.

Aquino chose not to seek re-election in 1992, and was succeeded by Fidel Ramos on June 30, 1992.

Post-Presidential Career

After leaving the presidency, Aquino lived a fairly private life. In 1998, she supported Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim for the presidency, but he finished in fifth place. In January 2001, she was instrumental in the success of the Second EDSA Revolution, a four-day popular revolt that peacefully overthrew President Joseph Estrada and put Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in his place. In February 2006, she joined protestors demonstrating against Arroyo.

Corazon Aquino died of colon cancer on August 1, 2009.

Honors and Awards

honorary Bachelor of Laws from Fu Jen Catholic University (Taipei, Taiwan, 1993)
honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the College of Mount Saint Vincent (1984), Ateneo de Manila University, and Xavier University (Philippines)
honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of the Philippines
honorary Doctor of Humanities from Stonehill College (Massachusetts) and San Beda College (2000)
Honoris Causa from Boston University, Fordham University, Waseda University (Tokyo), Eastern University, and the University of Santo Tomas (Manila), Yale University (1995), and Seattle University (2002)

TIME Magazine Woman of the Year (1986)
Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award (1986)
United Nations Silver Medal (1986)
Canadian International Prize for Freedom (1986)
Path to Peace Award (1995)
Ramon Magsaysay Award for International Understanding (1998)
Pearl S. Buck Award (1998)
named an Asian Hero by TIME Magazine (2006)
and many more

Country Studies
Women's International Center

Ferdinand Marcos
United States

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The Robinson Library >> General and Old World History >> Asia >> Philippines >> History

This page was last updated on February 24, 2018.