TRIUMPH OF PERSEVERANCE AND HOPE
My parents, especially my mother, taught me the value of hard work and to persevere in whatever it is that I set out to do. And from my father, I learned what kindness, patience and humility are all about.
When I married Ninoy, my conscious world went beyond that of the family and the family business. I married a dedicated politician in the best sense of the word, a worker in politics. He, too, taught me to persevere in a good cause. I was lucky, for although he died before his persistence paid off, I lived to see it happen.
When I look back now on all those years -- waiting outside the prison to see my husband, waiting in the house in Boston for the confirmation of his death, waiting for the dictator to blink in our face-off (because I certainly wouldn't), facing down the military rebels -- I realize how really hard it is to come by freedom and democracy. And that it is mainly by perseverance that one is won and the other is kept.
Some leaders, like Mr. Mandela, had to fight much longer for them. He had to suffer personally much more, too. Twenty seven years as a prisoner in pitch-black confinement or in the bright blinding wastes of the South African pit mines. But the sweet taste of winning back freedom and gaining democracy for his South Africa must have been multiplied a hundred fold for every minute spent in prison.
There are still a number of leaders who have not lost their will to fight, who still display the proud perseverance to win their country's freedom. We cannot help but think of Burma and Aung Sang Suu Kyi.
Each national experience of winning freedom is unique. But I offer my country's story for the hope it offers, in whatever measure, of the triumph of perseverance and hope. My deepest appreciation and heartfelt thanks to the Fulbright Association for this great honor, at this time in my life. It will send the message to my people and to other peoples less fortunate than they, in Burma and other places. The message is that the struggle never ends, the work is never finished, nor does the task devolve mainly on the great. It belongs rather to ordinary people, the improvement of whose lives is this Prize's main concern.
Today is my wedding anniversary, which brings to mind the other half who may well be here and the words of a moving poem for J. William Fulbright:
"Then think that every time, alone in darkness, someone finds the courage to take a stand against the arrogance of power or lifts one hesitant hand against the tyranny of mad momentum, there is a monument. And there. And there. "
Two statues stand in different squares, one in Arkansas, the other in my country; the distance and the years between them gone. One is of a man who worked to make the human spirit nobler and the other of one who showed it could be done.
Thank you again for this great honor, and God bless you all.
Sources: Speech can also be found at http://www.fulbrightalumni.org/olc/pub/FBA/fulbright_prize/aquino_address.html.
INA. ANAK. KAPATID. ASAWA. KAIBIGAN. ALAGAD NG DIYOS. LEADER. CORAZON "CORY AQUINO". ANUMAN AT SAAN KA MAN NAROROON, KAIBIGAN, KAPAMILYA AT KAPUSO KA NAMIN SAAN MAN SA MUNDO. YOU'LL ALWAYS BE IN OUR HEART.