01 August 2009
In this moment of deep grief over the passing of former Philippine president Corazon "Cory" Cojuangco Aquino, I cannot help but recall that I have used her first name many times in my lectures on deconstruction. The word Corazon contains within itself two contradictory meanings: corazon meaning heart and razon meaning reason. The binary between heart and mind characterizes not just the word, but Cory's too brief stay on earth. A mere housewife (as she described herself), she was forced by the murder of her husband Benigno to take his place and challenge dictator Ferdinand Marcos in a snap election for the presidency of the country. After millions of Filipinos forced Marcos out and installed her as president, she juggled heart and mind constantly through her term, rewriting the Constitution and reestablishing democracy, while taking inexplicable slight at a journalist's figure of speech ("President Aquino hid under the bed during a coup attempt") to sue him in a lower court (the guilty verdict against the journalist was rightly overturned by an appeals court). While she maintained a reputation for being incorruptible (sadly, later presidents had no such reputation), she also did not do enough to ensure that the Congress that she reestablished would also be incorruptible (sadly, the current Congress has again and again been accused of receiving bribes from the regularly-impeached President). Here is a case where language and reality blur into each other. In deconstructing the word Corazon, we actually view the presidency of the real Corazon from quite a different angle.