Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Corazon "Cory" Aquino on Stamps

Maria Corazon "Cory" Sumulong Cojuangco-Aquino (January 25, 1933 – August 1, 2009) was the 11th President of the Philippines and the first woman to hold that office. Aquino was also the first popularly and democratically-elected female president and head of state in Asia. She is best remembered for leading the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution, which toppled the authoritarian regime of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos and restored democracy in the Philippines. "Tita (Auntie) Cory", as she was affectionately known, is revered by many Filipinos as an icon of Democracy, and was hailed by TIME Magazine as the "Saint of Democracy," due to her well-known spiritual life and strong adherence to non-violence and democracy.

A self-proclaimed "plain housewife", Aquino was married to Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr., the popular opposition leader and staunchest critic of then President Ferdinand Marcos. Senator Aquino was assassinated on August 21, 1983 upon returning to the Philippines after his
exile in the United States.

After her husband's assassination, the widowed Aquino became the reluctant leader of the opposition against the authoritarian rule of the Marcos regime. She united the fragmented opposition and strengthened its moral crusade against the abuses and excesses of President Marcos' martial rule. In late 1985, when President Marcos called for a snap election, Cory Aquino challenged his regime. Aquino thrust herself into the political arena only after one million signatures urging her to run for president were presented to her.

Despite having no prior political experience, except being her husband Ninoy's wife, Aquino proved to be a cult leader, inspiring orator and skilled campaigner. She ran for president with former senator Salvador Laurel as her vice-presidential running mate. When Marcos-allied Batasang Pambansa proclaimed Ferdinand Marcos the winner in the 1986 snap elections, Aquino called for massive civil disobedience protests against him, declaring herself as having been cheated and as the real winner in the elections. Filipinos enthusiastically heeded her call and rallied behind her. These series of events eventually led to the ouster of Marcos from power and the installation of Aquino as president of the Philippines in February 1986, an event which is now known as the historic 1986 EDSA .

Now in power, Aquino oversaw the restoration of democracy in the Philippines and the promulgation of a new constitution, which limited the powers of the presidency and established a bicameral legislature. Her administration gave strong emphasis and concern for civil liberties and human rights, peace talks and dialogues with communist insurgents and Muslim secessionists. Aquino's economic policies, meanwhile, centered on bringing back economic health and confidence and focused on creating a market-oriented and socially-responsible economy. Despite these achievements, Aquino's presidency was not smooth-sailing as she had to face series of nine coup attempts against her administration and destructive natural calamities and disasters until the end of her term in 1992.

After her term expired in 1992, Aquino returned to private life although she remained active in the public eye, constantly voicing her views and opinions on the pressing political issues in the country. In 2008, Aquino was diagnosed with colorectal cancer (the same ailment that killed her mother Doña Demetria "Metring" Sumulong Cojuangco) and after a one-year battle with the disease, she died on August 1, 2009.

The Philippine Postal Corporation (Philpost) sold over 70,000 Cory Aquino’s limited-edition stamps, priced at P7 each, shortly after they were released last September 8, 2009. And now Philpost is launching another set of stamps since the first edition were sold out.

According to Postmaster General Hector Villanueva in a press statement:

“We have not had a stamp that sells like hotcakes. The people are lining at our post offices to get their hands on [the stamps]. We hardly had enough to supply the request of the Aquino family. It is phenomenal.”

Philpost will release the 2nd Cory Aquino limited-edition stamps for about 300,000 nationwide on September 18, 2009. And the new stamps will sport the same designs as the first edition, but with minor changes on the position of the postmark and some texts.

It is also considered as a collector’s item because it is exclusively issued by Philpost branches, the two differently-designed stamps joined side by side bear a photo of Aquino flashing the “Laban” sign on the left, and a photo of her smiling on the right.