I think it was Anthony Spaeth, correspondent of Time magazine during the 1986 Philippine revolution, who said Filipinos love freedom so much that they preferred it over a fuller rice bowl.
Such is the virtue, as well as the misfortune, of the Philippines that has struggled economically, despite ending years of despotic rule by former president Ferdinand Marcos. That was a cruel tradeoff, but one thing was clear--we were happy that we had the chance to redeem ourselves.
And so, as news of the passing of Corazon "Cory" Aquino--the widow of the martyred Ninoy Aquino and heroine of the People Power revolt--emerged today, Aug. 1, a grateful nation looks back with reverence to the accidental president who built and preserved institutions of democracy.
Cory has inspired a generation of Filipinos. One of them was Jojo Anonuevo who was then growing as a young man in America. About two years ago, I remember Anonuevo telling a group of IT reporters that he was smitten by Cory's historic 1987 visit to the U.S. when she issued a plea for Filipinos abroad to help rebuild the country.
So when the opportunity came for him to become country manager of Yahoo Philippines, he readily grabbed the offer as a way to heed Cory's clarion call.
As I write this, the Web is flowing with tears from Filipinos who feel they have lost an inspiration of democracy. She may have not been perfect, but she was courageous and displayed tremendous grit in the face of adversity.
Goodbye, madam president. Your legacy will be cherished.