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Cory Aquino: Simplicity, Sincerity, and True Leadership


PhilBoxing.com




On the wake of Corazon C. Aquino, we find Filipino prize fighter Manny Pacquiao paying his last respect to the 11th President of the Philippines. What might break the tradition from opinionated writing about a brutal sport, and instead delving into the sphere of the national agenda? What the National Fist commemorated was the Filipino’s modern National Hero.

Cory had the academic accolades: class valedictorian, high education, a wealthy family to support her pursuits. Unfortunately, with any other under similar settings, too often we find the arrogance, the disregard, and the disconnection with the common folk. “Tita Cory” broke through with her simplicity, respect for others, dignity, and courage. Money, power, and grandiosity are fully negated by death. Service, sacrifice, honesty, and effort for the common good are not. They live on. And that example is built upon by those that Cory touched and inspired.

Her long-time partnership with former Senator Benigno Aquino, provided that impossible twist of fate. Ninoy’s years in jail painfully reinforced beliefs in the very principles that can spark outrage at injustice. That twist of fate would evoke that question “who knew?” Many cabinet members, political, and military advisors of President Ronald Reagan’s circles were alarmed that Cory Aquino would take over the ally country after a long and failed dictatorship. She was, after all, a “mere housewife.” The great error is in equating simplicity, decency, and grace with weakness. That arrogance, self-importance, and high-headedness somehow validate that person as strong. That there is a simple formulaic template for determining an all-time leader.

Who could have predicted that Abraham Lincoln – who held little formal schooling – would have risen to all-time statesmanship? Who could have predicted Gandhi’s success against the mighty British?

Tracing the background, experiences, influences, and events that led to Cory Aquino’s inspirational example for her countrymen, validate that you cannot predict where the next world hero will come from anymore than you can predict tonight’s dreams in your quiet recesses. Manny became an icon. If you asked his grade school teachers what they think would become of a boy who lived in sheer poverty, and who dropped out of grade school, in order to become a street fighter, those very teachers would not anticipate that very child to become a national icon. “That boy will be dead or in jail.”

Cory’s elemental core of connection with her maker, of courage to do and make right, of principles, of giving credence to fellow man, of serving her divine maker, cannot be bought by, or measured with, mere earthly indicators. And as such, her characteristics transcended the worldly obsessions that we are consumed with on a daily basis. Her inspiration marked the beginning of a national belief that swept through in droves, to “ask not what your country can do for you, but to ask what you can do for your country.”

My most treasured belonging is a letter of recommendation that the late Senator Raul Roco wrote for me for my college applications in the late 1990s. All of my personal possessions could burn in a fire so long as these recommendation letters are untouched. I had met him several times. As a young kid, I was flattered that Senator Roco took time away from his extremely busy schedule to convey a genuine confidence in me to various deans and admissions officers at U.S. colleges. I after all struggled immensely in high school and the so-called experts might as well have anticipated the same pattern of adversity in college. The few moments of believing in me, and attesting to aspirations on my behalf, Senator Roco instilled enough confidence to spark a burning zeal for future success in my own life. Success, not only in the meager terms of self gain, but for service and benefit of all. I earned dean’s list, honor roll, received multiple degrees, and earned as many academic minors as I could muster. I ran for student president of my college. I pushed myself to the brink, beyond what I perceived to be my personal limits, and promised to never give up, in emulation of the greats which have so elevated our country.

Cory Aquino brought the same to the Filipino. She made the Filipino believe in the best of himself. She instilled dignity, personal pride, and self-respect. That a person should be judged by the content of their character. And to aspire toward noble aspirations.

True leaders such as former President Corazon Aquino reminds us that our legacy is not found in what we give people. Our legacy lies in what we leave in people.

The late-senator Ninoy Aquino and Cory could have chosen a life of comfort, longevity, and prestige by continuing to live in the United States. Most Filipinos, of course, attempt to find their lives and calling in a foreign land. They chose to return back to The Struggle. To remain true to the very efforts, whose promise, would sustain the hardships and sacrifices of an Emilio Aguinaldo, of a Jose Rizal, of the soldiers at Bataan and Corregidor. Upon hard thought, Ninoy and Cory’s principles and ideals led them to the conclusion of the magnanimity of taking up the fallen Flag, of taking up the course, of taking up the seemingly impossible task of rewriting history and altering the national destiny. Their actions and sacrifices convey embracing the danger, threats, struggle, and possibility of further physical harm. In the final analysis, both chose to do the right thing - no matter what, even at the cost of making the ultimate sacrifice – that crossing of the final apotheosis.

Former President Corazon Aquino gave a speech before the U.S. congress in 1987, and conveyed her intentions for elevating the conditions of her country by quoting Abraham Lincoln:

"With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."

In building the foundations, she resoundingly succeeded. Beyond all expectations.

* * *

Marv Dumon has been an avid boxing analyst and observer for over 20 years, and additionally serves as the National Business and Finance Examiner for Examiner.com (a global top 70 website). His book “Manny Pacquiao: An Impossible Journey” is anticipated to be released in the fall of 2009. Marv's professional background conveys experience in investment banking and consulting, as well as, in operations with two Fortune 500 companies. He has published over 200 articles and client research papers for Forbes and related organizations. Marv received his BA, BBA, and MPA from The University of Texas at Austin.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Marv Dumon.


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