I 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...."
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