Accessibility links

Breaking News

Filipinos Bid Goodbye To Revered Ex-Leader Aquino

More than 100,000 people came out to pay respects as the coffin of ex-President Corazon Aquino passed through the rain-soaked streets of Manila on August 5.

MANILA (Reuters) -- More than 100,000 mourners braving heavy rain thronged central Manila on August 5 to honor former President Corazon Aquino, heroine of the Philippines' 1986 people-power movement, who died last week of cancer.

Masses in Aquino's memory were celebrated in Catholic churches throughout the country, with 1,000 officials, diplomats and business figures attending the largest, in Manila's 400-year-old cathedral.

Aquino's youngest daughter, Kristina Bernadette Yap, a film and television star more popularly known as Kris Aquino, thanked those attending.

"The last words Mom expressed to each of us were 'Take care of each other,'" she said.

"I know that those words weren't meant just for our family, but for all of us as a nation. In the way that all of you have been thanking us for sharing Mom with you, our Mom never failed to thank each of us."

Aquino is to be buried next to her husband, Benigno, whose assassination in 1983 catapulted her to the national stage.

Three years later, over 1 million people poured into the streets to support troops who were backed by Aquino and had revolted against dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Marcos and his family fled into exile and Aquino held the presidency until 1992.

Among those paying respects to Aquino was East Timor leader Jose Ramos-Horta. Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo came straight to the cathedral from the airport on her return from a visit to the United States.

Two-Kilometer Procession

In the cathedral grounds, mourners clad in yellow -- the color associated with Aquino and the 1986 revolution -- watched a live broadcast of the Mass on two giant screens.

Police said a procession extending over two kilometers -- more than 100,000 people -- later filed slowly behind Aquino's cortege as it wound its way to the cemetery.

Posh and humble vehicles alike bore a strip of yellow ribbon tied to a door handle or rearview mirror.

Those in the procession chanted "Cory! Cory!" and flashed the "L" hand sign, Aquino's trademark during the revolution. White doves were released.

Many of those present were too young to have experienced the fairytale revolution which propelled Aquino to power.

"I only knew Cory from my history class in school and from my parents who were at the revolution. I came here to show my gratitude to her," Andrea Corpuz, 16, said while standing outside the cathedral with a group of friends.

On August 4, Marcos's son, Ferdinand Jr., and daughter, Imee, joined the wake. Their mother, Imelda Marcos, has also expressed her sorrow at Aquino's death.

World leaders, including Pope Benedict XVI, U.S. President Barack Obama, and Chinese President Hu Jintao sent messages of sympathy.

The government has announced a 10-day period of mourning, financial markets were closed and a public holiday was declared on August 5.