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The three losses of Ninoy Aquino

WASHINGTON -- Philippine President Corazon Aquino said Thursday she lost her husband Benigno Aquino three times during his life as an opposition leader -- the final time when he was shot dead at Manila International Airport three years ago.

Aquino gave a history of the life and death of her husband, known as 'Ninoy,' during her speech to a joint session of Congress.

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It was his slaying upon his return to the Philippines three years ago that catapulted the 53-year-old former housewife into the presidency in a popular revolt seven months ago.

'Three years ago, I left America in grief to bury my husband, Ninoy Aquino, she said. 'I thought I had left it also to lay to rest his restless dream of Philippine freedom. Today, I have returned as the president of a free people.

'For the nation, Ninoy became the pleasing sacrifice that answered their prayers for freedom. For myself and our children, Ninoy was a loving husband and father. His loss, three times in our lives, was always a deep and painful one.'

She said the first loss was 14 years ago this month, when ousted President Ferdinand Marcos, a longtime U.S. ally, locked her husband, stripped naked, in a tiny military camp cell for 43 days.

She said that later when he was put on trial for subversion and murder he fasted for 40 days and almost died.

'God meant him for other things, he felt,' Aquino said. 'He did not know that an early death would still be his fate, that only the timing was wrong.

'Then, we lost him irrevocably and more painfully than in the past. The news came to us in (exile in) Boston. It had to be after the three happiest years of our lives together.

'But his death was my country's resurrection in the courage and faith by which alone they could be free again . ... And so began the revolution that has brought me to democracy's most famous home, the Congress of the United States,' she said to the applause of senators and representatives, many wearing yellow roses in her honor.

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