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Thousands Attend 'People's Funeral' for Former Philippine President  Aquino



Tens of thousands of people poured onto the streets of Manila to say goodbye to former President Corazon Aquino. Mrs. Aquino is remembered for restoring democracy in the Philippines through the peaceful "people power" movement of the 1980s.

Thousands of Filipinos walked in the rain for hours to accompany Corazon Aquino to her final resting place - a 20-kilometer journey from the Manila Cathedral to the Manila Memorial Park. The procession inched slowly through streets packed with people, eager to get a glimpse of Mrs. Aquino's coffin.

Yellow confetti fell like snow as her flag-draped casket emerged from the church.

The national anthem played as members of the national police force saluted the former president for the last time before placing her coffin on a flatbed truck bedecked with yellow and white flowers.

The entire nation was brought to a standstill Wednesday. In Manila, intermittent rain did not stop people from waiting in the streets, flashing the "L" hand sign for "Laban" or "fight" - the symbol of the campaign Mrs. Aquino led against the authoritarian rule of Ferdinand Marcos in the 1980s. Many Filipinos have said it was as if they had lost a mother.

People chanted her name and waved yellow flags emblazoned with her picture. The scene was reminiscent of the funeral of Mrs. Aquino's slain husband in 1983. His assassination propelled her from a housewife to a democracy icon.

Her tearful daughter Kris Aquino thanked the public for the outpouring of sympathy and gratitude, and vowed to continue her parents' work to defend democracy.

"You have given honor to our family beyond anything we could have hoped to receive," she said. "That no matter how great the sacrifices of my parents, I can honestly say that for my family, the Filipinos are worth it."

Mrs. Aquino led the "people power" movement that ousted Ferdinand Marcos in 1986. That peaceful transition is often credited with inspiring similar democracy movements around the world, particularly in the communist states of Eastern Europe.

Mourners streamed to her wake through the early hours Wednesday. Among them, President Gloria Arroyo. She spent only seven minutes there, a sign of the rift with the former president over what Mrs. Aquino considered attempts to weaken the country's democratic institutions.

In a symbolic gesture, the eldest children of Ferdinand Marcos also came to the wake.

At the funeral mass, former presidents Joseph Estrada and Fidel Ramos and current Vice President Noli de Castro sat on the front pew, as did Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda. East Timor's Prime Minister Jose Ramos Horta, who has said Mrs. Aquino inspired his people's fight for independence from Indonesia, came to the cemetery.

Close friends, relatives and employees paid tribute to Mrs. Aquino's humility, sincerity, bravery and deep faith in God and the Filipino people.

"We owe you so much. Thank you for your unselfishness and sacrifices in bringing together a nation in need," said Alfredo Lim, the mayor of Manila.

Cory Aquino died Saturday, more than a year after being diagnosed with colon cancer. She was 76.

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