"... Empowering people means more than just giving them elections. It means enlarging their contact with government, and habituating them to the direction of their own affairs. People empowerment, by direct participation in government or by indirect involvement through NGOs, was the surest means of making government mirror the aspirations of the many rather than merely advance the interests of the few.
It is on the work of people empowerment that I now devote the greater portion of my time... to put in the hands of ordinary people the quite ordinary, but organized, means of effecting major changes in their lives.
This was the force that toppled dictatorships and tore down the Berlin Wall. Can it be made to build up? In the past, the idea was to give the people just enough political power to make a mistake at the polls; in the future, the idea should be to empower them to decide meaningfully, and throw the full weight of their numbers behind their choice. "
- H. E. Corazon C. Aquino, 1933-2009
President Of The Phillipines, 1986-1992
Fulbright Prize Ceremony
U.S. Department of State
Washington, D.C., October 11, 1996