Death and funeral of Corazon Aquino

Death and funeral of Corazon Aquino
Death and funeral of Corazon Aquino

The funeral procession of former President of the Philippines Corazon Aquino
Participants People of the Philippines
Location Philippines
Date August 1–5, 2009
Result National day of mourning and funeral procession
Candidacy of Sen. Noynoy Aquino for the presidential election.

The 11th President of the Philippines, Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino, died on August 1, 2009 at the Makati Medical Center in Makati City, after having suffered from colorectal cancer for over a year. Her official cause of death was cardiorespiratory arrest. Aquino was first diagnosed to have cancer in March 2008, and was hospitalized from June 2009 until her death.

The Aquino family declined an invitation by the government for a state funeral.[1] Her funeral was held on August 5, 2009, and her body was buried at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City. She is the first female lay person to have her wake at the Manila Cathedral and is the second president after Carlos P. Garcia to have their body lay at state there.[2]



Ako’y nagpapasalamat sa inyong lahat at lalong-lalo na sa Panginoong Diyos na ginawa niya akong isang Pilipino. Talagang karangalan ko iyon na maging katulad niyo at maraming salamat sa lahat ng tulong na ibinigay ninyo sa akin.

(I am very thankful to you all and especially to the Lord God that He made me a Filipino. It truly is my honour to be like you and thank you very much for all the help that you all have given me.)

—Cory Aquino, September 3, 2008[3]


Between Christmas 2007 and New Year 2008, Aquino experienced periodic fluctuations of blood pressure, difficulty in breathing, loss of appetite and remarkable loss of weight. Some days after, her doctor confirmed that she had colorectal cancer to the Aquino family. In the middle of March 2008, she confided the nature of her disease to a close friend, priest Catalino Arevalo.[4]

On March 24, 2008, her youngest daughter, Kris Aquino–Yap, a famous TV personality, disclosed the issue that her mother had cancer. In a public announcement on television, she said that her mother began to experience cancer symptoms before 2008, difficulty in breathing, persistent cough and loss of appetite. Her brother, then Philippine senator Noynoy Aquino was at her side as she made the announcement.[4] Kris also said that the March 19 result of her mother's biopsy said that the disease was primarily due to adenocarcinoma,[5] where the cancer started on colon glands. Her spokesperson Deedee Sytangco said that her colon cancer is at stage four prior to discovery.[6]

Following the announcement, Malacañang Palace was saddened and felt sorrowful about the disclosure.[7] Philippine senators Francis Escudero and Nene Pimentel also showed deepest sympathies.[8]

The public was shocked because some days before the announcement, Aquino was publicly visible protesting against the Arroyo government. She was known before her confinement to be an avid supporter of NBN-ZTE scandal star witness Rodolfo "Jun" Lozada, Jr. She was always actively attending public masses and rallies for Lozada like the nine-part "Mass for Truth and Accountability" prayer since the former surfacing in February 2008.[9] The said mass was done February 25, exactly 22 years after People Power Revolution that successfully installed Aquino to presidential power. (For more information, see Philippine National Broadband Network controversy.) Aquino was known to be the primary organizer of the "Mass for Truth and Accountability" novena.[10] On March 23, 2008, sixth of the "Mass for Truth and Accountability" novena and the day before Kris' announcement, she was seen attending Easter mass in St. Joseph's College, Quezon City where she thanked Lozada for "his courage and sacrifices for the campaign of truth."[10]

Around 6 p.m. the same day, March 25, Aquino was confined to Makati Medical Center to undergo procedures before for chemotherapy.[11] Her son, Senator Noynoy Aquino said that his mother would undergo such unspecified set of procedures before taking chemotheraphy.[5] Some sources at the hospital said that the former president would undergo colectomy, cardiopulmonary clearance and blood transfusion as a prerequisite for chemotheraphy.[5]

By July 2009, Aquino was reported to be in a very serious condition and confined to Makati Medical Center due to loss of appetite and chronic baldness.[12] It was announced that Aquino and her family had decided to cease chemotherapy and other medical interventions.[13][14]

Aquino died of cardiorespiratory arrest after complications of colorectal cancer[15] at the age of 76 on August 1, 2009 at 3:18 a.m., at the Makati Medical Center.[16] Her death was announced to the press by her son, Sen. Benigno Aquino III at 5 a.m..

On March 24, 2008, the Aquino family announced that the former President had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer.[17] While she had initially been informed by her doctors that she had only three months to live,[18] Aquino pursued chemotherapy. The treatment caused both heavy hair loss, loss of appetite and immunological problems. In public remarks made on May 13, 2008, she announced that blood tests indicated that she was responding positively to the medical treatment.[19]


By July 2009, Aquino was reported to be in a very serious condition and confined to Makati Medical Center due to loss of appetite and chronic baldness.[12] It was announced that Aquino and her family had decided to cease chemotherapy and other medical interventions.[13][14]

Aquino died of cardiorespiratory arrest after complications of colorectal cancer[15] at the age of 76 on August 1, 2009, 3:18 a.m., at the Makati Medical Center.[16]

The Aquino family declined an invitation by the government for a state funeral.[20]

Wake and Funeral


Queue of mourners at the Aquino wake going to the Manila Cathedral in front of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila campus, which opened its facilities such as the university clinic and restrooms for the mourners.[21] For comparison, the Cathedral is the green dome in the background.

Aquino's body lay in state at a public wake at the St. Benilde Gymnasium of La Salle Green Hills in Mandaluyong City up to August 3, before being transferred to the Manila Cathedral. She was the second member of the laity after former president Carlos P. Garcia and the first woman to lie-in-state at the cathedral, as this honour was reserved only for deceased archbishops of Manila.[22] A crowd estimated at 120,000 witnessed the transfer of her remains from La Salle Green Hills to the Manila Cathedral. Most of the crowd was concentrated at the Benigno Aquino, Jr. memorial statue in Ayala Avenue, Makati City, where the funeral cortege paused briefly while the crowds sang "Bayan Ko.[23]

In a surprising gesture of civility, Bongbong and Imee, the children of Aquino's bitter political rival Ferdinand Marcos, paid their last respects to Aquino on August 4.[24] The funeral mass and interment was scheduled on August 5, which was declared as a special nonworking holiday by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Aquino is buried in Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque.[25] President of Timor-Leste José Ramos Horta showed up at the funeral and paid his last respects to Aquino.[26]

All Roman Catholic dioceses had started requiem masses for Aquino, after they held "healing masses".[27] Meanwhile, the government declared a week of mourning for her death.[28] As much as 7,000 mourners waited in line at the Manila Cathedral on August 4.[29]

Requiem Mass and burial

Then President Arroyo cut short her trip from the United States to pay her last respects to Aquino in the early hours of Wednesday, August 5. Arroyo spoke to Noynoy Aquino for about seven minutes.[30]

Aerial view of Aquino's internment, from the live coverage by TV Patrol World. Caption translation: "Latest News: President Aquino laid in final resting place."

Jose Mari Chan sang the poem Ninoy made for Cory, "I Have Fallen In Love," as Aquino's casket was carried outside the cathedral. Other songs performed in tribute were "Sa 'Yo Lamang" (For You Alone) by Piolo Pascual; "The Lord's Prayer" by Erik Santos; "The Impossible Dream" by Jed Madela; and "Pangako" (Promise) by Ogie Alcasid. Martin Nievera and Regine Velasquez performed a duet of "The Prayer", while Sarah Geronimo sang the People Power Revolution anthem "Magkaisa" ("Unite"); "Your Heart Today" by Dulce; "Hindi Kita Malilimutan" ("I Will Never Forget You") by Zsa Zsa Padilla; and "Bayan Ko" ("My Country") by Lea Salonga. The artists later joined the Apo Hiking Society in singing another People Power song "Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo" ("Filipinos' Offering to the World").[31] The Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra played the background music.

The funeral procession lasted for almost eight hours, with mourners flashing the "Laban" ("fight"; holding the thumb and forefinger at right angles, like an "L") sign lining the route from the cathedral to the Manila Memorial Park in Sucat, Parañaque. When the cortege reached the cemetery, Aquino was given full military honors, with a two-star general acting as military host and eight, one-star generals as pallbearers carrying the coffin. The crowd that lined the funeral route (passing through the cities of Manila, Makati City, Pasay City, and Parañaque City) was estimated to be between 300,000 to 400,000 people.[citation needed] Before interring Aquino, Presidential guards placed her coffin near the mausoleum where her husband Ninoy is interred.

Corazon Aquino was buried beside her husband Ninoy at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque, Philippines.

Those permitted to attend the burial were originally restricted to Aquino's family and close friends, but the crowd broke through the security barricades after the last of the convoy's 13 buses entered the cemetery. Although the crowd was inside the premises, they kept a respectful distance from the burial site.[32]

Bishop Socrates Villegas and Rev. Fr. Catalino Arevalo, SJ, gave the final blessing, and per the Aquino family's request, the coffin was opened one last time. The glass cover was removed, and after Bishop Villegas, Fr. Arevalo, and Aquino's children sprinkled it with holy water, most members of Aquino's family gave a final kiss to the deceased leader's remains. The casket was sealed one last time, the Philippine flag was removed from the coffin, given a final military salute, and folded before being presented to then-Senator Noynoy Aquino. The military pallbearers ushered the coffin into the tomb, then her family, supporters, and allies deposited yellow flowers inside. As the tomb was being sealed, the nuns, priests, seminarians, and laypeople, along with the congregation sang Bayan Ko and several religious hymns. Aquino's grave marker was a simple design, identical to that of her husband.


Local reaction

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who was on a state visit in Washington, D.C. when she was informed about the President Aquino's death, called Aquino a "national treasure". She ended her trip ahead of schedule and returned to Manila to visit Aquino's wake. Arroyo announced a 10-day mourning period for the former President, and issued Administrative Order No. 269 to "official acts and observances” to help in the funeral of the former President.[16]

A Philippine flag at half-mast beside the Martial Law Memorial Wall at the Bonifacio Shrine. All Philippine flags were at half-mast during the 10-day mourning period.

Former President Estrada said that they lost a "mother" and a "guiding voice of the people." Estrada also described Aquino as "Philippines' most loved woman".[33] Aquino supported Estrada's removal from office in 2001, but the two supported each other to oppose amendments in the constitution since last year.[34] The Senate has also expressed its grieving with Aquino's death; Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, who along with Fidel Ramos launched the People Power Revolution, asked the public to pray for her. Minority leader Aquilino Pimentel, who previously served as interior and local government secretary during her administration, had "mixed feelings" with Aquino's passing, saying "We shall be forever indebted to Cory for rallying the nation behind the campaign to topple dictatorial rule and restore democracy."[35]

A growing opinion among some Roman Catholic circles in the country is to push for Aquino's declaration as a saint of the Roman Catholic Church.

International reaction

President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev in a telegram to President of the Philippines Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo stated, “The name of Corazon Aquino is associated with a period of profound reforms and the democratic transformation of Filipino society.” Medvedev also noted that Corazon Aquino showed great interest and sympathy to Russia and prioritised the development of Russian-Filipino relations.[36] International figures expressed their grief, with United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noting that Aquino was "admired by the world for her extraordinary courage". White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that "Her courage, determination, and moral leadership serve as an inspiration to us all and exemplify the best in the Filipino nation." Other ambassadors also sent their messages of condolence following her passing.[37] Pope Benedict XVI recalled Aquino as a "courageous commitment to the freedom of the Filipino people, her firm rejection of violence and intolerance," according to Manila Archbishop Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales. President of South Africa Jacob Zuma called Aquino "a great leader who set a shining example of peaceful transition to democracy in her country."[38] Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom said, "I am saddened to hear of the death of Corazon 'Cory' Aquino the former President of the Republic of the Philippines."

Cory Aquino during a ceremony honoring US Air Force

Diplomats from South Africa, Brazil, Turkey, United Kingdom, Iran, Cuba, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Sweden, Thailand, Iraq, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Libya, Mexico, France, and Pakistan, among others, and the representative of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) attended the wake of the Former President.[39][40]

Brazil Brazil: Brazilian Ambassador Alcides G.R. Prates offered his country’s condolences to Aquino family and the Filipino people.[39]

Canada Canada: Canadian Ambassador Robert Desjardins said Aquino has been recognized internationally for her contributions to human rights and political freedoms, values that Canada strongly shares with the Philippines, adding that she will be sincerely missed by the international community, and people everywhere, including the 300,000 Canadians of Filipino origin.

The government and the people of Canada would like to extend our deepest sympathy to the Filipino people. President Aquino will be remembered as a leader who ushered in a new era of freedom in the Philippines, and inspired millions around the world. She was an international icon of democracy, a global model of people power, and a passionate advocate of good governance.[41]

Chile Chile: Chile’s Ambassador to the Philippines Ovid Harasich was also at the wake and hailed Aquino for her important role in bringing democracy back in the country. He said the people of Chile were saddened by Aquino’s demise.[42]

China People's Republic of China: The Embassy of the People's Republic of China has issued the following statement:

We are deeply saddened on hearing the news that former President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino passed away early this morning. The Philippines lost an inspiring statesman while China, in sharp grief, bereaved of a sincere friend. President Aquino made great efforts in developing China-Philippine friendly relations. Her vision would be remembered and her contribution would be long cherished by China and the Chinese people. May she rest in peace.[41][43]
Chinese Ambassador Liu Jianchao also recalled his meeting with Cory in 1988, when the Liu was serving as a junior diplomat under China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
She was the first head of state that I met in my lifetime and I was very impressed with her grace and courage in developing bilateral relations between our countries. I am very grateful for what she did.[40]

East Timor East Timor: East Timor President José Ramos-Horta, a long-time friend of Aquino, broke protocol when he came to Manila to attend the funeral. Diplomats looked down on the gesture for heads of state given the fact that it was not a state funeral. Ramos-Horta braved a downpour and arrived on Wednesday morning in time for the funeral mass at Manila Cathedral. However, he had to proceed to Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City ahead of the mourners because he could not sit for long hours due to the wound he sustained from an attempt on his life in East Timor in 2008.

I’m always impressed by leaders who showed compassion and humility. To me, there is no greater quality in a leader than being compassionate and being humble because only through compassion and humility that one can bridge the divide, build bridges of dialogue between communities and between warring sections... No amount of intellect or academic record can replace compassion and humility that was Cory Aquino... Cory Aquino, through her compassion and humility, inspired me.[44]

European Union European Union: Ambassador Alistair MacDonald of the delegation of the European Commission to the Philippines led the European Union in expressing grief over the death of Aquino.

Throughout her presidential term, and notwithstanding a number of severe challenges, she never flinched in her determination to ensure that the Philippines would not veer from its democratic path.[41]

Finland Finland: Finnish Ambassador Heikki Hannikainen said that Cory’s leadership led to a new era of hope and promise to Filipinos.[40]

Hong Kong Hong Kong: A representative of the territory’s Chief Executive Donald Tsang went to the Philippine Consulate to write in the book of condolences.[39]

Indonesia Indonesia: President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of the Philippines' nearest neighbour Indonesia said in a statement he was saddened by the news and offered his heartfelt condolences.[45]

Japan Japan: Japan's Prime Minister Taro Aso hailed Aquino's contribution to friendly ties between the two countries:

We would like to sincerely renew our deep respect for her achievement.[45]

Malaysia Malaysia: The wife of Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, Wan Azizah, arrived in Manila on the Sunday of the funeral to pay tribute to former Philippine president Corazon Aquino:

Now that she is gone, I feel grief and the loss not only for the Filipinos but for myself.[46]
The Malaysian people have a special reason to view her as an iconic figure. Their striving for a return of their country to the dispensation entrusted to it by its founding Constitution mirrors hers and Ninoy’s successful struggle to return the Filipino nation to the promise of Jose Rizal’s legacy.[47]

Russia Russia: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in a telegram to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo stated:

The name of Corazon Aquino is associated with a period of profound reforms and the democratic transformation of Filipino society.
Medvedev also noted that Corazon Aquino showed great interest and sympathy to Russia and prioritised the development of Russian-Filipino relations.[36]

Singapore Singapore: Singapore, in a statement from the Foreign Ministry, lauded her as "a remarkable woman" who worked tirelessly for the betterment of the Philippines.[45]

South Korea South Korea: Former South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung recounted to the Philippine Embassy how the 1986 People Power Revolution that catapulted Aquino to power inspired similar democratic movements worldwide, including his country’s own venture into democracy in 1987 following massive rallies.[39]

Switzerland Switzerland: Swiss Ambassador Peter Sutter said that Mrs. Aquino conquered the hearts of the Swiss people when she visited Switzerland in June 1988.

As champion of democracy, she will remain an inspiration to us all.[40]

Thailand Thailand: Thailand has sent condolences on the death of former president Aquino who died Saturday after a yearlong battle with colon cancer. In his message to Philippine President Gloria Arroyo, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said his government and the people of Thailand have learned with “deep sadness and join the Republic of the Philippines in mourning of the demise of Her Excellency Corazon Aquino."

Her Excellency Aquino’s contributions to the development of the country and tireless devotion to peace, stability and democracy for the people of the Republic of the Philippines are well recognised throughout the world and will always be remembered and cherished by all of us with admiration and respect.[48]

United Kingdom United Kingdom: The British Government has extended its condolences to the family of the late President through Foreign Office Minister Ivan Lewis. Former Foreign Office Minister, Lord Malloch-Brown, who worked closely with Mrs Aquino during her election campaign added:

I received the news of Corazon Aquino's death with great sadness. As an advisor in her campaign against President Marcos, the privilege of working with Cory and watching her was one of my life's greatest lessons in courage, leadership, the art of politics and humanity. The way she and all her family made such friends of me as an outsider is something I have always treasured.
British Ambassador to the Philippines Peter Beckingham also said:
I had the honour and pleasure of meeting former President Aquino on several occasions, when we were able to discuss her visits to London and her interests in members of the Filipino community in Britain, especially those serving in the Church. Those discussions left me with an overwhelming sense of her grace, charisma and compassion. The Philippines has lost a wonderful leader who is widely admired in Britain for her courage and inspiration.[49]
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II also mourns Cory's death and said:
I am saddened to hear of the death of Corazon 'Cory' Aquino the former President of the Republic of the Philippines. I send my sincere condolences to her family and to the people of the Philippines.[50]

United Nations United Nations: United Nations World Food Program Country Director Stephen Anderson said that:

She was the beacon of democracy for this country and for the world. She was very much committed to helping those who are disadvantaged and her legacy remains. We're very sad for her family's loss but what she represents is an inspiration to the world.[42]
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon voiced his deep sadness over the passing of former Philippine President Corazon Aquino. Ban paid tribute to the former president for her "exceptional courage and pivotal role in the restoration and consolidation of democracy in the Philippines," which she governed from 1986 to 1992.
Mrs. Aquino will be remembered as a beacon of democracy not only in the Philippines but also around the world.[51]

United States United States: According to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, President Barack Obama was deeply saddened by the death of President Aquino.

Ms. Aquino played a crucial role in Philippines history, moving the country to democratic rule through her non-violent "People Power" movement over twenty years ago. Her courage, determination, and moral leadership are an inspiration to us all and exemplify the best in the Filipino nation. On behalf of the American people, the President extends his deepest condolences to the Aquino family and the nation of the Philippines".[52]
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Former U.S. President Bill Clinton expressed their condolences and said that they were "inspired by her quiet strength and her unshakable commitment to justice and freedom".[53]
U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie A. Kenney said in a statement:
On behalf of the U.S. Embassy, I would like to express our most heartfelt condolences to the Aquino family and to the people of the Philippines on the death of former President Corazon Aquino.[54]

Vatican City Vatican City: According to the Cardinal Secretary of State, Tarcisio Bertone, Pope Benedict XVI recalled Corazon Aquino's "courageous commitment to the freedom of the Filipino people." He remembered her "as a woman of deep and unwavering faith".[55]


  • On the day of Aquino's funeral, Friendster created a special profile page that will allow users to become a fan of the former president.[56]
  • On the week of Aquino's death, she became a "trending topic" on the social networking site, Twitter. People also got to put yellow ribbons in their pictures to symbolize Aquino.


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