Sunday, August 2, 2009


Yellow is typically known as the colour of cowardice. For one woman and one nation, however, it is the colour of courage, honesty and a return to democratic rule.

Many years ago, an activist was brutally slain on the tarmac just as he stepped out of an airplane. His widow, a housewife and mother, picked up the cudgels and eventually overthrew a corrupt dictator who had been in power for 21 years. She became the country's first woman President and Time Magazine's 1986 Person of the Year. A yellow dress was her trademark, along with the "L" sign formed using the thumb and index finger. The peaceful revolution now known as People Power has gone down in history books and serves as a benchmark for non-violent protests all over the world.

Today, an entire nation mourns the passing of this amazing woman. While her period in office was not an easy one, and the country she once led still remains largely mired in corruption, what she achieved was rather phenomenal and no easy task.

I was seven years old when Ninoy Aquino was assassinated and nine when Cory Aquino became president. While I may not remember the dictator's rule as well as my parents do, I have a fair few memories of the days leading up to the EDSA Revolution.

I remember going to my dad's office in the center of the business district and throwing yellow confetti straight from the shredding machine into the streets via the fire escape, as the people below shouted for Marcos to step down. I remember walking along that street with hundreds of other people, wearing a yellow Ninoy shirt and chanting "Laban! Laban!" (Fight! Fight!)

I remember my parents stories about guarding the ballot boxes during the 1986 snap elections, especially my mum crying as she told us how my dad and his friend stood up to armed goons by throwing chairs at them to get them away from the ballot boxes while she and the other women hid in the restroom with their boxes, just to keep the votes safe.

I remember my parents telling us to pray, again and again, as we made what seemed like hundreds of sandwiches for them to take to EDSA as they joined the human barricades. I remember spending days at the house of some Australian friends who lived right down the road from the military chief who eventually changed sides, joining the people and helping to bring down the dictator. Later, this man became the 12th President of the Philippines, after Mrs. Aquino's term ended. I remember the impromptu street party thrown in front of this man's house when it was announced that the dictator had fled and the people had won.

This was history, though I was too young to know it. Now, as I recall those days, I feel awed and proud to have been a tiny part of it.

Much work must still be done in this country to make it a true democracy and the nation its people dream it can become. I hope and pray that this happens within my lifetime. Meanwhile, it is safe to assume that this amazing woman, who led a nation, is now happily reunited with her husband in a perfect afterlife where there is no corruption or political strife.

For the nation in mourning, yellow will always remain the colour of courage.

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