Corazon Aquino

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Cory_Aquino_-_Woman_of_the_Year.jpgI am sorry to hear of the death yesterday of Corazon Aquino -- former president of the Philippines, widow of the assassinated senator Benigno Aquino, heroine of the "EDSA Revolution" of 1986 that drove Ferdinand Marcos from power.

In 1987 I wrote an article about Aquino and the Philippines arguing that the removal of Marcos was sadly not likely to correct the deeper problems of political corruption and economic inequality in the country. The article was called "A Damaged Culture" and was extremely controversial in the Philippines at the time, and to a degree still now. The article as originally published is available here. Some if its references from 22 years ago now seem dated. Unfortunately many others do not. And in any reference to the Philippines, it is always important to mention the works of the great Filipino novelist F. Sionil "Frankie" Jose, whom I wrote about in the Atlantic in 1995 here and visited in Manila early this year, as described here.

From the original article, about Corazon Aquino's prospects:

"Because previous changes of government have meant so little to the Philippines, it is hard to believe that replacing Marcos with Aquino, desirable as it doubtless is, will do much besides stanching the flow of crony profits out of the country. In a sociological sense the elevation of Corazon Aquino through the EDSA revolution should probably be seen not as a revolution but as the restoration of the old order. Marcos's rise represented the triumph of the nouveau riche. He was, of course, an Ilocano, from the tough, frugal Ilocos region, in the northwest corner of Luzon. Many of those whom he enriched were also outsiders to the old-money, old-family elite that had long dominated the country's politics. These elite groups, often referred to in shorthand as Makati (the name of the wealthy district and business center of Manila), regarded Marcos the way high-toned Americans regarded Richard Nixon: clever and ambitious, but so uncouth.

"Corazon Aquino's family, the Cojuangcos, is part of this landowning elite...."

RIP.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.
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