In a crowded cathedral here, Philippine opposition figure Corazon Aquino was presented this evening with petitions reportedly totaling 1.2 million signatures urging her to run for president. She responded with a de facto promise to do so.

Afterwards, thousands of elated supporters, some of them carrying candles and beating drums, paraded with Aquino to her house, more than a mile away, in one of the largest opposition demonstrations seen here in recent months.

Aquino told supporters at the cathedral that she would hold off from a formal declaration until after President Ferdinand Marcos signs a bill providing for a Feb. 7 special presidential election. He is expected to do so Monday night.

"I wish to assure you -- you will hear what you want to hear. You will not be disappointed," she said, eliciting a roar of approval.

Aquino is the widow of opposition leader Benigno Aquino, who was assassinated in 1983. Until recently, she was seen as a spiritual symbol of the movement, not a candidate. Her campaign, apparently supported by the Roman Catholic Church, is attempting to achieve a spiritual tone.

Presentation of petitions containing the signatures was conducted at an afternoon mass. A priest sprinkled holy water on the papers, which were stacked neatly before the altar, and the crowd recited a special "Prayer for the Cory Aquino for President Movement."

Another senior opposition leader, former senator Salvador Laurel, is also in the running for president.