Cory Aquino: Icon of Democracy

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Cory Aquino's historic speech before the U.S. Congress

Seven months after President Corazon C. Aquino was hurled to power by the will of the People, the US Government invited her to give a speech before the joint session of the United States Congress. Teddy Boy Locsin who was former Cory Aquino’s Executive Secretary during her administration, told the back-story of the said speaking engagement in a certain news program during Cory’s wake. He said that when Cory Aquino asked him to write the speech for her the instruction was “basta ikuwento mo lang kung ano nangyari sa akin at kay Ninoy, how Ninoy was imprisoned and assassinated and how I got elected.. simple lang, ikaw na bahala”. But it was not easy. Teddy Boy found it hard to start the speech and was quite unsatisfied in what he wrote which made it harder for him to end the speech. But as the date of the former President’s engagement got nearer, Locsin was not yet finished with the speech. For some reason according to him he can’t seem to finish it. Until Cory took the initiative of finishing the speech herself. Hours before the actual speech, an aide of the US congress offered the teleprompter (a device placed near or on a television camera that displays scrolling text, allowing a person to read a script while appearing to speak spontaneously to the camera) to Cory for her to get used to and help her with her delivery. Together with Teddy Boy and some US Secret Service assigned to them, Cory encoded the speech on the teleprompter in her hotel room. While Cory Aquino was practicing her speech, they saw the US Secret Service crying. The strange thing is according to Teddy Boy, the guards were trained to be emotionless, but for the reason they didn’t know, the guards were moved by Cory’s speech. When Cory asked Teddy Boy if the speech was okay, Teddy Boy said, “Mam, I Think this will do”.

And true enough, even before Cory delivered her speech, the US Congress composed of representatives and senators gave her the longest standing ovation and applause for a foreign leader. During her speech, she was always interrupted by applause from the Senators and Congressmen. She became the first foreign leader to address a speech in the US Congress. The eloquent half-hour speech began and ended with standing ovations, and was interrupted by applause eleven times. It was, said House Speaker Tip O'Neill, the "finest speech I've ever heard in my 34 years in Congress." Above the din of cheering officials, Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole said to Mrs. Aquino, "Cory, you hit a home run." Without missing a beat, Aquino smiled and replied: "I hope the bases were loaded." Later that day, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to give the Philippines an assistance package of $200 million dollars.


When she addressed the United States Congress after becoming President of the Philippines, in a speech so well written by Teddy Boy Locsin, for the first time in my life I became so proud to be Filipino. In the speech she represented a victorious and proud Philippines — they loved her, they loved us. I was not there at her time. I wasn’t there to witness a huge part of Philippines History, the time of despair and cruelty, but thanks to our technology, we, the younger generation could hear and watch it over and over again.

Cory Aquino was indeed, more than any other, the real miracle of 1986, though she was a reluctant candidate. She was a housewife, totally unqualified for the position of President. She was a private person who was thrust into the limelight and was prevailed upon to run and become President by a country in desperate need of moral leadership. But then, the result of her actions, the peaceful end of a dictatorship and the return to democracy, which is often cited as miraculous was not what was surprising. It was the fact that there was, out of the blue, the woman in yellow who had the guts to stare down a dictator, the political will to resist injustice and...
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