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Benigno Aquino III takes office as president of Philippines

By the CNN Wire Staff
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New Filipino president sworn in
  • NEW: Benigno Aquino III sworn in as the Philippines' 15th president
  • Aquino won election by a landslide in May
  • Aquino continues a political dynasty launched by his parents

(CNN) -- A new era is beginning in the Philippines -- or you could call it the continuation of a political dynasty.

Benigno Aquino III has been sworn in as president, the country's 15th, after winning election in May by a landslide. He secured more than 15 million votes, about 5.7 million more than his closest competitor, one-time president Joseph Estrada, in a vote viewed as a litmus test for the country's democracy. There were nine candidates in all.

You can associate Aquino with a familiar color -- yellow. He is the son of two revered figures in Philippine life, former president Corazon Aquino and her husband, Benigno.

The elder Benigno, an opposition leader, was shot dead upon return from exile in the United States in 1983, as he attempted to lead a movement to push longtime dictator Ferdinand Marcos out of power.

Upon his death, the push for reform fell to his initially reluctant wife, who won support for her "People Power" movement while wearing her signature yellow clothing. Amid widespread allegations of electoral fraud and a military mutiny, the U.S. withdrew its support for Marcos, and he sought exile in Hawaii.

Corazon Aquino served from 1986 to 1992, fighting against poverty and the country's massive debt, while contending with a Marxist insurgency and seven coup attempts. She managed to reform the country's constitution, imposing a single six-year term for presidents. Corazon Aquino died last year.

Enter the younger Aquino, who like her, sports signature yellow clothing and talks of restoring power to the people. He takes office after three other presidents who followed his mother, Fidel Ramos, Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Video: Talk Asia: Benigno Aquino III

At 50, he's a relatively youthful president. Critics say he's had a lackluster records as a congressman and senator. But supporters note there's been no question about his integrity, in a country where corruption is rife.

Like his mother, he had to be coaxed by friends and supporters into running.

But now, many Filipinos are noisily celebrating.

A public holiday has been declared for the inauguration, which took place at an oceanside park in Manila, filled by a sea of people. Many wore yellow and carried banners and Philippine flags, while others constantly fanned themselves in the heat. The inauguration also attracted dignitaries from throughout the region.

Aquino vows to fight corruption, and supporters say he'll provide a contrast to the unpopular Arroyo, who was often accused of turning a blind eye to it.

He'll only be able to serve for six years, under the reform introduced by his mother.

But Benigno Aquino already has made some waves, naming a retired Supreme Court chief justice to lead a truth commission that will look for graft and possibly prosecute Arroyo. He also promises to scrutinize the budget to make sure no funds are being lost to corruption.

And he's said he wants peace talks to end decades-long communist and Islamist insurgencies.

Despite big ambitions, Aquino, a bachelor, has a reputation for quiet modesty.

"Don't let me start out having an inflated sense of my own worth or my ego, not having my feet planted firmly on the ground," he said in April, "because I might succumb to the same temptations that those who are criticizing me have done."