A Center for Research on Effective Leadership

Article excerpt

Byline: Corazon Cojuangco Aquino

(Speech delivered by former president CORAZON C. AQUINO at the launching of the Ninoy and Cory Aquino Center for Leadership, Ateneo de Manila University, Professional Schools, Rockwell Campus, Makati City)

LET me first of all thank Father Bienvenido Nebres, S.J., Father Tito Caluag, S.J. and the Ateneo University Officials for naming this Center of Leadership in honor of Ninoy and me. And let me also offer my prayers and heartfelt gratitude to Dr. and Mrs. Rolando Hortaleza for their kindness, friendship and generosity. Rolan and San-san Hortaleza have said that investing in research and training on leadership is their way of thanking the Filipino people for the success of their business, the Splash Corporation.

I am happy to note that this Center will be pursuing research into models of effective Filipino leadership, taking into account our peculiar context our history, culture and values in our nations quest for stability, progress and genuine democracy. We must study the ways of Filipino leaders who have inspired our people through the ages and teach these to our youth, to shape their minds and hearts for the challenges they will face when their turn comes to build our institutions and lead our nation.

I want to give special thanks to San-san for including my name in this Center. Pardon my immodesty, but I do believe that Ninoy and I made a very good team. As many of you know, Ninoy was not the perfect husband as I was not the perfect wife, but somehow with many, many prayers, much love and dedicated efforts, we were able to bring out the best in each other.

Ninoy and I were both 21 years old when we got married on October 11, 1954 in the Church of Our Lady of Sorrows in Pasay City. While it is true that Ninoy made it clear to me that he wanted to go into public service, I never expected him to be in politics so soon after our marriage. But one year after our wedding, Ninoy was drafted by the concerned leaders of his hometown to be their candidate for mayor of Concepcion, Tarlac.

And so Ninoy ran and was elected mayor in 1955, when he was not yet 23 years old. Since elections then were held on the second Tuesday of November and Ninoys birthday was on November 27, Ninoy was lacking two weeks or more to be the required age of 23. Ninoy honestly thought that his not being 23 on election day would not be a problem because he believed that since he would not assume office as mayor until January 1 anyway, then he would be 23 years old. The defeated candidate filed an electoral protest and so after two years in office, Ninoy was unseated by the Supreme Court for being underage.

In 1959, Ninoy was elected as Vice Governor of Tarlac and two years later he became Governor when the elected Governor resigned to become a Cabinet member. At the age of 31, Ninoy was elected Governor of Tarlac. And in 1967 at the age of 35, Ninoy became the youngest elected Senator of our country. He worked hard and performed well in the Senate as evidenced by his being named an Outstanding Senator by the Free Press magazine for three consecutive years. And then he focused his attention on the scheduled presidential election of 1973.

For my part, I was determined early in our marriage to be a good wife and mother. I was very shy in those days and I really valued my privacy. Luckily, I did not have to do much campaigning for Ninoy because he was a great speaker and a charismatic politician. My vote-getting activities were limited to visiting market places very early in the morning and shaking hands with both vendors and vendees alike, asking them to please vote for Ninoy. Sometimes I would also go visiting important leaders in their homes to ask for their support. One of my regular duties was to accompany sick constituents to the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) or to the Quezon Institute (QI). Since our town of Concepcion had no ambulance then, the patient would ride with me in our family car with his or her companion. …