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She was an unlikely revolutionary. A member not of one but two of the Philippines’ most powerful families, Mrs. Corazon Aquino nonetheless led the popular revolt against President Ferdinand Marcos, sweeping him from office and setting an example for “people power” movements around the world ever since. Her quiet dignity and iron will provided a much needed center for a country whose politics was often in turmoil. Passing away last weekend at the age of 76 from cancer, she will be much missed.

It was a personal tragedy of the most horrific kind that propelled Mrs. Aquino into politics. Her husband was Benigno Aquino Jr., the head of the opposition movement in the Philippines who had been forced into exile in May 1980, eight years after Marcos had declared martial law to avoid the term limits imposed by the Philippine Constitution. Aquino, along with thousands of other opponents of the regime, had been incarcerated — ostensibly for links to communist rebels. Yielding to U.S. pressure, Marcos allowed Aquino to go into exile for heart surgery; he and his family remained in the U.S. for three years.

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