HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - In 1983, just minutes after returning to the Philippines from a three-year exile, former Philippine Sen. Benigno Aquino was assassinated at the Manila airport.
He was President Marcos’ fiercest political rival and his criticism had earned him years in prison on charges of subversion.
What Aquino could not accomplish in life he succeeded in doing in death.
Aquino’s assassination, which was blamed on the Marcos regime, ignited the “People Power" revolution that would eventually lead to Ferdinand Marcos’ downfall.
In 1986, violence in the streets, accusations of cheating, and a terrible human right’s record led Marcos to call for a snap election.
To the surprise of many in the Philippines and around the world, he lost to Aquino’s widow Cory, a defeat Marcos was not willing to accept.
In the final hours Ferdinand Marcos spent at the Presidential Palace in Manila, thousands of loyalists cheered the fallen dictator who was soon to be told by his American friends to cut and run.
While the Aquino murder was the beginning of the end for Marcos, other factors also helped push the revolution forward. Chief among them: The economic disaster that he and his cronies had created.
Images captured by news photographers and transmitted around the globe depicted growing numbers of people finding their daily bread in garbage dump.
Emme Tomimbang was a TV reporter in the islands when Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos were exiled here, and was able to get exclusive access to the Marcos camp.
“They couldn’t believe that America would come in, step into their country ... and that they would go to this extreme to remove them," she said.
“I’m not saying I felt sorry for them,” Tomimbang added, "but this was a very major development that they had to live with for seven years. The closest thing that the president said to me was that he trusted the people around him and looking back, he wished he didn’t.”
The day the Marcos’ fled was one of celebration in the Philippines. Tens of thousands took to the streets to celebrate the toppling of a dictator.
And a new president spoke of democracy, patriotism and coming together.
“We are finally free," Corazon Aquino told Filipinos in a televised address.
"And we can be truly proud of the unprecedented way we achieved our freedom. With courage and with determination and most important, in peace.”