Tarlac, Philippines — The body of Benigno Aquino, the opposition leader assassinated a week ago Sunday, was taken back to his home province of Tarlac, about 75 miles north of Manila.
Thousands of people greeted the cavalcade of cars Saturday as it passed through towns and villages along the way. Police estimated that 10,000 people marched behind the Aquino hearse as it moved slowly toward the provincial capital building in the center of Tarlac. Many local politicians, both friends and foes, praised Aquino as a martyr and hero.
Tarlac is in the flat sugar lands of central Luzon, normally a 2 1/2-hour trip from the nation's capital, reports Paul Quinn-Judge for the Monitor.
Ten miles from Tarlac, in Aquino's hometown of Concepcion, there is strong sentiment for the former senator, who was once the town's mayor and Tarlac province's governor. Hard times have fallen on the important sugar industry here.
There was, however, one indication of changing political fortunes in the town. In a corner of the square a large new-looking sign stood by a stretch of half-paved road. The sign read: ''Concreting of Timbol Street is a community development program [made possible] through the private funds of Ambassador and Mrs. Eduardo M. Cojuangco Jr.''
Mr. Cojuangco is a cousin of Mr. Aquino's widow, Corazon, a member of one of the richest families in the Philippines, and a bitter political rival of the late opposition leader. He is also a close confidant of President Ferdinand Marcos and is widely thought to be one of those most likely to succeed him.
The Aquino body is due to return to Manila Monday, where it will be on view to the public in Santo Domingo church until the burial on Wednesday.