Somewhere, there’s a photo of me with Corazon Aquino, the former president of the Philippines who will be buried on Wednesday. I thought of her today as her flag-draped coffin was carried along EDSA in Manila. This is the very street where the People Power Revolution was born. Today, this street turned into a sea of yellow with ribbons, flags and balloons--as it had back in the days the revolution was born. Even as the current ruler’s ascendency to the president’s office is questioned, and the country is again undergoing political strife, Cory is uniting her people in death as they remember her.
I met “Cory,“ as people affectionately called her, sometime during her presidency at an event in Bellevue, WA. A private audience with picture taking, followed by dinner, dancing, and speeches. The Filipino ex-pats in attendance adored her, as did I. Uproarious applause erupted when she shaped her small right hand into an L for LABAN, the word formed from the acronym of The People’s Party. In Tagalog, the word LABAN means “fight.” And fight she did, this diminutive widow of assassinated opposition leader Benigno Aquino, Jr. and self-proclaimed housewife. But she fought in her own way, namely peacefully and prayerfully!
I adored Corazon Aquino because she was smart enough and gutsy enough to oppose the ruthless dictator Marcos, who is said to have plundered a cool $10 billion from his country’s treasury, and his fraudulent re-election. Her 1986 “Yellow Revolution,” named after the yellow banners the party used, sent the Marcos’s into exile. Imelda barely had time to sing one last song before supervising the packing up of her shoes. Povrecita!
Cory’s non-violent fight surprised the world and won her the presidency. Her example inspired similar peaceful demonstrations around the world and eventually toppled autocrats in other well-entrenched dictatorships, in particular in the former communist countries of the USSR.
Now the spirit of LABAN has migrated to Iran where it inspired the “Green Revolution.” As Corazon Aquino is laid to rest on Wednesday, there are rumors that the people of Iran will be restrained under martial law. As the news media has been silenced, I have no doubt that Iranians will continue to tweet their words of protest that Ahmadinejad is not their rightfully elected president, and I have no doubt that Iranians will continue to shout their prayers of peace from the rooftops of Tehran. On Wednesday, along with the children of the Green Revolution, I will pray that Cory’s spirit, the spirit of the peaceful fight of LABAN, is with the people of Iran and guides them to freedom.
Causes Irma Fritz Supports
Music of Remembrance, Seattle, WA; Compass Center, Seattle, WA; Seattle Opera, Seattle, WA; Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA; KCTS 9, Seattle, WA (PBS)