It’s 2020…100 years since suffrage movement activists won the right to vote for many women across the country. As we look back to notable moments like this in history, we celebrate women leaders and acknowledge that the path to gender equality has not been inclusive and we are still on it. For that reason, the Change Matrix team is sharing a series of personal essays about women. They might be women we know who were models or mentors and influenced us as professionals. They might be women whose work we have loved and integrated into our own. They might be about our identification as women through a cultural lens.
It was 1986. I was standing in the checkout line at the grocery store when a flash of yellow caught my eye. On the cover of a magazine was Cory Aquino. She had just been declared Time Magazine’s Woman of the Year.
Immediately, I felt a sense of pride. Never had I seen a Filipina on the cover of a US magazine. Never had I seen a Filipina woman rise to leadership and call for civil disobedience. Never had I seen millions gather for massive demonstrations in the Philippines. Never had I imagined that a nonviolent revolution would result in the end of the 20-year dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.
Cory Aquino, as she was commonly called, is remembered as the woman dressed in yellow who led the People Power Revolution. She served as the first female president of the Philippines (1986-1992). While she had no political background, the assassination of her husband, Benigno Simeon Aquino Jr, in 1983 galvanized the opposition to the Marcos government, and led her to be the unified opposition’s presidential candidate.
At that moment in time, standing in the checkout line, Cory Aquino symbolized for me the noble fight for democracy, courage, and moral leadership. The events that happened in the Philippines stunned the world. Having immigrated to the US when I was a toddler, I never felt that my history was taught in school or reflected in current events. It was the first time I felt proud of my Filipino heritage.[Picture above: Photograph of Cory Aquino retrieved from AsiaNews.it http://asianews.it/news-en/Cory-Aquino,-the-first-woman-president-in-Asia-and-symbol-of-democracy,-dies-15938.html]