CORAZON C. Aquino was simply phenomenal. How her name beacons in the limelight of democracy and in the world of dirty politics -- at least in the Philippines -- her persona is something we find hard to believe. Yet she lived, she’s a real person. A year ago she died, but her legacies live. She lives in our hearts.

That People Power helped inspire the peaceful revolutions in many parts of the world is vindication on the righteousness of Edsa. Cory is truly at par with the great Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and many other world symbols of struggle against oppression. It’s no wonder that her name was even nominated by some quarters into sainthood, indicating the miracle her sanctity brought to the political landscape of this country and beyond.

Updates on President Benigno Aquino III's presidency

What past presidents failed too do, Cory did it with finesse and style through her celebrated transparent, good governance. No question that no less than her son, Benigno III, owes his presidency to her mother. So too with the rest of the country whose citizens proved to one and all that not all 68 million Filipinos back are stupid and coward.

But Cory just did it, showing to the world that no way a dictator could stay that long in office squeezing government coffers dry. Yes, how she won on that 1986 snap election might be suspect. But as then Sen. Rene Saguisag, one of her loyal and brilliant lieutenants bared it in Dong Puno’s highly rated talk show Viewpoint, “he who runs away from the fight naturally loses.”

To be magnanimous in victory—as categorically stated in her inaugural address on the 25th of February—she released the first batch of 441 detainees and 39 prisoners in her third day of office. Horacio Morales, Fr. Ed de la Torre and Lt. Victor Corpus head the lists of detainees released. The next batch included Jose Maria Sison and Bernabe Buscayno and many others. To prevent arbitrary arrests and detention of ordinary citizens, she restored the writ of habeas corpus, brazenly suspended by Marcos. She defanged the military—she had twenty two overstaying generals, including Gen. Fabian Ver, axed. What more could a widow offer the Filipinos asking for great change?

She also formed the Presidential Commission on Human rights. Though devoid of any policy power, it helped every Filipino seek redress against any human rights violations. After her declaration of provisional Revolutionary Government, she proclaimed the creation of Constitutional Commission, primarily tasked in formulating draft of Constitution after consultation with Filipino people all through the country. The same vital document is the 1987 Constitution we are now enjoying.

The transition from dictatorial to democratic government was not at all a bed of roses though for Cory. A dwindling economy, $28 billion IMF debt; sporadic hostilities between the reds and military; bloated bureaucracy; possible resurgence of fascist rule given the power and unpredictability of Marcos’ loyalist camp; termination of Military Bases Agreement; internecine strife among Muslims separatists in Mindanao and staggering poverty.

These are some of the challenges she faced as President. But she faced them nonetheless confronting them one at a time. Upon assumption of office, she did ala Ramon Magsaysay, opening Malacañang to all general viewing public including the lavish display of wealth of the first couple.

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But it’s been more than two decades since Edsa and yet it seems People Power hardly changed the peoples’ lives. First, we should stop this orgy of launching more Edsas. Let the spirit of that people power rule and govern us. Such is the continuing challenge for us today.

Above all else, let us put into practice what Cory Aquino painstakingly restored for us–democracy. How could we ever succeed when we are too reluctant to practice it?