Maria Corazon "Cory" Cojuangco Aquino (January 25, 1933 – August 1, 2009) was a President of the Philippines and a world-renowned advocate of democracy, peace, women's empowerment, and religious piety. She served as the 11th president of the Philippines from 1986 to 1992. She was the first female president of the Philippines and was Asia's first female president. Aquino died on August 1, 2009 after suffering from colon cancer.
A self-proclaimed "plain housewife",Aquino was married to Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr. (1932–1983), a leading figure in the political opposition against the autocratic rule of President Ferdinand Marcos. After her husband was assassinated upon his return from exile in the United States on August 21, 1983, Aquino, who had no prior political experience, became a focal point and unifying force of the opposition against Marcos. She was drafted to run against Marcos in the 1986 snap presidential elections. After Marcos was proclaimed the winner despite widespread reports of electoral fraud, Aquino was installed as President by the peaceful 1986 People Power Revolution.
Aquino was reluctant at first to run for presidency, despite pleas that she was the one candidate who could unite the opposition against Marcos.She eventually was convinced following a ten-hour meditation session at a Catholic convent. Laurel did not immediately accede to calls for him to give way to Aquino, and offered her the vice-presidential slot under his UNIDO party. Aquino instead offered to give up her affiliation with her husband's political party, the Lakas ng Bayan (LABAN), which had just merged with Partido Demokratiko Pilipino, and run under the UNIDO banner with Laurel sliding down to the vice-presidential slot.Laurel gave way to Aquino to run as President and ran as her running-mate under UNIDO as the main political umbrella of the opposition.
The elections held on February 7, 1986 were marred by the intimidation and mass disenfranchisement of voters. Election day itself and the days immediately after were marred by violence, including the murder of one of Aquino's top allies, Antique governor Evelio Javier. While the official tally of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) consistently showed Marcos in the lead, the unofficial tally of the National Movement for Free Elections indicated that Aquino was leading. Despite the job walkout of 30 COMELEC computer technicians alleging election-rigging in favor of Marcos, the Batasang Pambansa, controlled by Marcos allies, ratified the official count and proclaimed Marcos the winner on February 15, 1986. The country's Catholic bishops and the United States Senate condemned the election, and Aquino called for a general strike and a boycott of business enterprises controlled by Marcos allies. She also rejected a power-sharing agreement proposed by the American diplomat Philip Habib, who had been sent as an emissary by U.S. President Ronald Reagan to help defuse the tension.
On February 22, 1986, the People Power Revolution was triggered after two key Marcos allies, Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and Armed Forces Vice-Chief of Staff Fidel Ramos called on Marcos to resign and holed up in two military camps in Quezon City. Aquino, who was in Cebu City when the revolt broke out, returned to Manila and insisted on joining the swelling crowd that had gathered outside the camps as a human barricade to protect the defectors.On the morning of 25 February 1986, at the Club Filipino in San Juan, Aquino took the presidential oath of office administered by Supreme Court Associate Justice Claudio Teehankee. Marcos himself was sworn into office at Malacañang Palace on that same day, but fled into exile later that night.
The relatively peaceful manner by which Aquino assumed the presidency through the EDSA Revolution won her widespread international acclaim as an icon of democracy. She was selected as Time magazine's Woman of the Year in 1986. She was also nominated to receive the Nobel Peace Prize but lost to Elie Wiesel also in 1986. In September 1986, Aquino delivered a speech before a joint session of the United States Congress which was interrupted by applause several times, and which then U.S. House Speaker Tip O'Neill hailed as "the finest speech I've ever heard in my 34 years in Congress." Above the din of cheering officials, Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole said to Mrs. Aquino, "Cory, you hit a home run." Without missing a beat, Aquino smiled and shot back: "I hope the bases were loaded."