Accessibility links

Thousands Gather for Former Philippine President

Yellow confetti rained from buildings, as tens of thousands of people lined the streets of the Philippine capital to bid farewell to former President Corazon Aquino. The scene was reminiscent of the Philippine democracy movement that she led in the 1980's.

Mrs. Aquino's coffin, draped in the Philippine flag and laid over a bed of yellow flowers, was carried in a large truck Monday through a section of Manila's EDSA highway: the site of the "people power" movement she led in 1986 that overthrew the authoritarian Marcos government.

On Ayala Avenue, in the country's business district, people, many wearing yellow, packed the sidewalks. Many more watched from glass windows, terraces and rooftops.

People sang songs popularized during the 1980's democracy movement, flashed the "L" laban or "fight" sign, and carried signs saying "Thank you Cory Aquino" and "Goodbye".

Yellow confetti rained from the buildings onto the street, reminiscent of the color the widow-turned-democracy icon chose for her campaign to unseat then-president Ferdinand Marcos. Mrs. Aquino appeared in several rallies in the business district after her husband, opposition leader Senator Benigno Aquino Junior, was assassinated in 1983.

Daughter Kris Aquino thanked the public for the show of support since her mother's death Saturday.

"This is so beautiful for us. Our hearts feel wonderful," she said. "The Filipinos are so appreciative of what she did for our country. It brings back so many memories of my Dad and I just want to say thank you very, very much."

Senator Richard Gordon said the street turnout was fitting for a leader who came to power through street protests.

"What you see here is the people's funeral, people paying their respects spontaneously on the streets, as they remind themselves that they propelled her from the streets," Gordon said. "She is being interred and buried with the support of the people that came from the streets."

On television interviews and on online message boards, Filipinos around the world expressed thanks for Mrs. Aquino's restoration of democracy in the country. But some politicians say this legacy is being challenged, amid proposals to change the 1987 Constitution to allow a parliament system of government.

Mrs. Aquino criticized the proposals as "shameful abuses of power". The opposition says the changes would allow current President Gloria Arroyo to stay in power past the end of her term in May, next year.

In Congress, Monday, some Filipino lawmakers called for the withdrawal of the bill, proposing the amendments to honor the former leader.

President Arroyo has been on an official trip to the United States and says she will return in time for Mrs. Aquino's funeral, Wednesday. The Aquino family refused a state funeral for Mrs. Aquino, which would have involved bringing her coffin to the presidential palace.