It is every reporter's dream to be on the spot for a major news story. TIME's Hong Kong Bureau Chief Sandra Burton has experienced the attendant rush of adrenaline more than once during the three years she has spent covering the Philippines. Perhaps her most unforgettable -- and terrifying -- moment came at Manila International Airport on Aug. 21, 1983. After flying with Opposition Leader Benigno ("Ninoy") Aquino on China Airlines Flight 811 from Taipei, Burton watched as Aquino was escorted from the plane by Filipino soldiers. Moments later, while her tape recorder whirred, she heard gunfire as he was cut down. During the slain leader's funeral, she caught her first glimpse of Aquino's wife Corazon ("Cory"). Says Burton: "We had no idea then that the small woman in the lead van would become the reluctant leader of her husband's movement."
More than two years later, Burton was interviewing President Ferdinand Marcos at Manila's Malacanang Palace when an aide burst in and showed the President a wire service dispatch announcing Cory Aquino's candidacy in the national presidential elections. Marcos glanced at it and predicted, accurately, that Aquino and Salvador Laurel would form a unified ticket to challenge him.
Manila-based Reporter Nelly Sindayen assisted Burton in reporting this week's cover stories on the turbulent presidential election campaign. Correspondents William Stewart and Barry Hillenbrand flew to the Philippines for the final days of the campaign. For Stewart, TIME's Washington-based diplomatic correspondent, it was his first trip to the Philippines since he visited the islands after reporting on the American evacuation of Saigon in 1975. His assignment: to determine whether the campaign justified Washington's growing concern about Marcos' leadership. Stewart followed the President's campaign on the islands of Bohol and Negros in monsoon rains. Hillenbrand, who is based in Bahrain on the Persian Gulf, endured bone-jarring rides on motorcycles and military trucks while keeping up with Aquino and Laurel on campaign stops across the 115,830-sq.-mi. archipelago.
In New York, Associate Editor George Russell, assisted by Reporter- Researcher JoAnn Lum and Sally Donnelly, wrote the main story in this week's eleven-page cover package. Says Russell: "This is a case where the U.S. can truly say that it has a moral responsibility to a foreign country." It is a story, he believes, that is as much about America as about the Philippines.