Corazon Aquino (photo credit: AP)MANILA (Aug. 2) — Former Philippine president Corazon Aquino, who rose to an international symbol of “People Power”, has succumbed to cardio-respiratory arrest yesterday at 3:18 a.m. at the Makati Medical Center. She was 76.
Aquino served as president from 1986 to 1992, the first woman to hold that position.
She has been diagnosed with colon cancer early in 2008, which had spread to other organs of her body, and has been confined at the hospital for more than a month since June before her death.
Her only son, Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, said he and his four sisters went to their mother’s bedside where they “were told to say everything we wanted to say” before she was given morphine which made her unresponsive.”
After her death, he said that their family has opted to have a private funeral, instead of a state funeral.
“For all intentions and purposes, she has been a private citizen after stepping down, and to a degree we would like to spend as much time as possible as a family with her,” he said, explaining their decision.
But as tradition holds in wakes of former government officials, the senator also said there will still be honor guards at her mother’s wake.
The body of the former president lies in state at the La Salle Greenhills (LSGH) gymnasium where a public viewing has been going on since Saturday afternoon. Hundreds of people continue to pay their respects to the nation’s leader who restored democracy in the Philippines. Thousands more continue to mourn her death by displaying yellow ribbons and wearing yellow shirts.
On Tuesday, August 4, a necrological service and vigil will be held at the Manila Cathedral. She will be buried at the Manila Memorial Park in Paranaque City on Wednesday after a 9 a.m. Mass at the Cathedral. She will be buried beside her late husband, former Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr.
Aquino was widowed in 1983 when her husband was assassinated upon his return from exile to lead a pro-democracy movement against the late authoritarian president Ferdinand E. Marcos. The assassination of her husband sparked a “people power” revolution in 1986 that toppled Marcos.
Three days after the revolt began Marcos was forced to flee the Malacanang presidential palace, where he had lived since taking office in December 1965. The Philippines’ “bloodless” revolution inspired millions of people around the world.
As Marcos’ successor she restored democracy. Time Magazine named her as its “Woman of the Year” in 1986.
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who is on an official visit to the United States said Aquino was a “national treasure” who helped lead a “revolution to restore democracy and the rule of law to our nation at a time of great peril.
She said the nation will officially observe a 10-day period of national mourning from August 1-10. She also declared August 5 as a special non-working holday. “Our hearts go out to the family in in this hour of grief and sorrow. The nation prays for Cory and her family,” the Chief Executive said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the president proceeded to New York Saturday (New York time) and spoke at a gathering of the Filipino community at the Sheraton Hotel in Newark, New Jersey. She was also scheduled to have brief stopover in Chicago on August 3 on her way to San Francisco, California en route to Guam but was cancelled. She was supposed to give brief remarks at a luncheon engagement with the Filipino community at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare Hotel.
According to Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, President Arroyo and her official party will leave New York Sunday evening and will arrive “early Wednesday morning in time to visit the remains of former president Aquino.