Every Wednesday, I have an essay or feature article on any topic that catches my fancy!
When you mention the word president, the first person that comes to mind is the late Cory Aquino. As a kid, she was the first person I associated with the position, in part due to the aggressive propaganda of the 80's when yellow was the color of the decade (and clashed with the red of the Marcos regime). I remember walking along Edsa during the first few years of the People Power anniversary as tanks and other military vehicles would parade down the street, a reminder of the bloody civil war that could have erupted in 1986.
Two decades down the line, the Cory Administration is one of the most fantastical things you can read about. In epic fantasy, one of the tropes is the reluctant hero. The said hero eventually rises to a position of power, not because he or she wants it, but because the populace demands it. In reality, however, this is seldom the case. Politics, for the most part, involves politicians wanting to be in a position of power (whether they use their acquired influence for good or for ill is something else altogether). Cory Aquino is the exemption from the norm because she is the archetypal heroine: she initially didn't want to become president. It was only later, after thousands of Filipinos signed a petition, that she agreed to run for president. By this time, her nemesis, Ferdinand Marcos, was painted as this embodiment of ultimate evil: greedy, cruel, and corrupt. Unfortunately, nothing is ever simple and in Cory's bid for presidency, she ran into conflicts and hurdles which had to be overcome, the most famous of which is the Edsa Revolution--which some declared as democracy at its finest.
Using a science fiction lens, Cory Aquino's election applies today just as it did more than twenty years ago. Iran's 2009 election, for example, is reminiscent of the Philippines in 1986 (or any other election that happens in the Philippines ever since): the government censoring media, the tampering of election results, and a dissatisfied populace that eventually rebels.
Even America's recent election has shades of Cory's success: we have a political underdog (Cory as the first female president of the country, Obama as the first African-American president) who is successor to a declining regime (martial law in the case of the Philippines, the economic downturn and Bush administration in the case of America). Yet in their election, there is a renewed sense of hope (although the critics are perhaps right in proclaiming that the new presidency won't solve the country's problems overnight).
Personally, I find it ironic how Cory Aquino is currently a well-loved president. I remember when that wasn't the case, when opponents tirelessly assaulted Aquino because she was a mere housewife and lacked the political expertise to rule a country. There were the numerous coups that occurred as protest to her administration which were bloody and destabilized the nation. The Aquino administration didn't have a fairy tale ending and had its fair share of controversies, yet it's interesting to see how Filipinos have romanticized those years.
But the Edsa Revolution and Cory Aquino's administration is the source of many ripples that affected the country in years to come. The generals who defected to Cory eventually entered politics; Cardinal Sin became a personality that's embedded in the Filipino zeitgeist; Kris Aquino, daughter of the president, would eventually become this media superstar who has her own fair share of sexual controversies; and let us not forget the perpetual Charter Change that hounds every politician.