Tuesday, Jun. 28, 2011

People Power, 1986

It was a narrative scripted for Hollywood: an innocuous housewife brought down a dictatorship. When Corazon Aquino's husband Benigno — a much loved, pro-democracy Filipino politician — was slain in 1983, allegedly by agents of the repressive regime of Ferdinand Marcos, she could have chosen to remain in comfortable exile in Boston. But she returned to the Philippines and took up her husband's mantle. Months of activism and pressure compelled the Marcos regime to hold a snap election on Feb. 7, 1986, that declared Marcos the winner amid widespread reports of vote rigging and voter intimidation. Anger at the blatantly fraudulent result set off mass protests, with Aquino the smiling, dissenting figurehead. Hundreds of thousands turned out in the streets of Manila, many garbed in yellow — the Aquino signature color. The massive demonstrations gave the world the phrase people power and were buttressed by key defections from Marcos' camp; a mutiny within the army compelled him to step down and go into exile. Aquino would sensationally become the President of a new, democratic Philippines.