María Corazón Cojuangco Aquino or Cory Aquino was born on January 25, 1933. She was the 11th President of the Philippines, serving from 1986 to 1992. She was the first female President of the Philippines and was Asia’s first female President. She is a world-renowned advocate of democracy, peace, woman’s empowerment, and religious piety.
A self-proclaimed “plain housewife”, Aquino is the widow of Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr., 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.
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.”
The six-year administration of President Aquino saw the enactment of a new Philippine Constitution and several significant legal reforms, including a new agrarian reform law. While her allies maintained a majority in both houses of Congress, she faced considerable opposition from communist insurgency and right-wing soldiers who instituted several coup attempts against her government. Her government also dealt with several major natural disasters that struck the Philippines, as well as a severe power crisis that hampered the Philippine economy. It was also during her administration that the presence of United States military bases in the Philippines came to an end.
On March 24, 2008, the Aquino family announced that the former President had been diagnosed with colon cancer. Aquino underwent chemotherapy, and in public remarks made on May 13, 2008, she announced that blood tests indicate she is responding positively to the medical treatment.
By July 2009, Aquino was reported to be in a very serious condition and confined to a Makati City hospital due to loss of appetite. It was announced that Aquino and her family had decided to cease chemotherapy and other medical interventions. Aquino likewise reportedly received the Catholic sacrament of the anointing of the sick.