When freedom is suppressed, the spirit struggles; and when struggling persists, some people give up the fight. Others are willing to lay their lives on the line for the sake of motherland.
When Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in the Philippines on September 1972, the Filipinos resumed their lives as best they can under a dictator. They learned how to conduct their lives living in fear and trying their best to stay away from anything that would appear to be in opposition to Marcos.
Others went underground and continued the fight. Tens of thousands were arrested without a warrant, tortured and imprisoned indefinitely. Thousands were picked up by the military and were executed.
Prior to Marcos, Philippine presidents had followed the path of "traditional politics" by using their position to help along friends and allies before stepping down for the next "player." Marcos essentially destroyed this setup through military rule, which allowed him to rewrite the rules of the game so they favored the Marcoses and their allies.
His practice of using the politics of patronage in his desire to be the "amo" or godfather of not just the people, but the judiciary, legislature and administrative branches of the government ensured his downfall, no matter how Marcos justified it according to his own philosophy of the "politics of achievement". This practice entailed bribery, racketeering, and embezzlement to gain the support of the aforementioned sectors. The 14 years of his dictatorship, according to critics, have warped the legislative, judiciary and the military.
Throughout Marcos's childhood, the Philippines had been a colony (a foreign region under the control of another country) of the United States. However, the Philippines had been largely self-governing and gained independence in 1946. This occurred only after fierce fighting in the country during World War II (1939–45), the international conflict for control of large areas of the world between the Axis (Germany, Japan, and Italy) and the Allies (United States, Great Britain, France, the Soviet Union, and others).
During the 1920s and 1930s, prominent Filipino nationalists like Manuel Quezon took their case for independence to Washington, D.C. Their breakthrough came in 1934, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill that made the Philippines a commonwealth until 1946, when it would become fully independent. Quezon was elected president of the new commonwealth.
Marcos attended college at the University of the Philippines. His record of excellence went beyond the classroom. He won honors in the University boxing, swimming and wrestling teams. He joined the newly-formed ROTC and rose to the rank of cadet major. He won the first gold medal offered by General MacArthur for proficiency in military science. His baritone oratory enlivened the school debating team. He became the most be medaled debater, winning the President Quezon Medal and was awarded the University President’s medal for obtaining the highest scholastic average over the full course of his college work.
During World War II, the Philippines were invaded and occupied by the Japanese, while U.S. forces and Filipino resistance fighters fought to regain control of the country.
Marcos emerged from World War II with a reputation as the greatest Filipino resistance leader of the war and the most decorated soldier in the U.S. armed forces. However, he appeared to have spent the war on both sides, lending support to both the Japanese and the United States. In early 1943 in Manila (the capital of the Philippines), Marcos created a "secret" resistance organization called Ang Mga Maharlika that he claimed consisted of agents working against the Japanese. In fact, the group consisted of many criminals—forgers, pickpockets, gunmen, and gangsters—hoping to make money in the wartime climate.
At the war's end, Marcos took up the practice of law again. He often filed false claims in Washington, D.C., on behalf of Filipino veterans seeking back pay (wages owed) and benefits. Encouraged by his success with these claims, he filed a $595 thousand claim on his own behalf, stating that the U.S. Army had taken over two thousand head of cattle from Mariano Marcos's ranch. In fact, this ranch never existed, which made Washington conclude that the cattle never existed.
Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos
In December 1948 a magazine editor published four articles on Marcos's war experiences, causing Marcos's reputation to grow. In 1949, campaigning on promises to get veterans' benefits for two million Filipinos, Marcos ran as a Liberal Party candidate for a seat in the Philippine House of Representatives. He won with 70 percent of the vote. In less than a year he was worth a million dollars, mostly because of his American tobacco subsidies (financial assistance to grow tobacco), a huge cigarette smuggling operation, and his practice of pressuring Chinese businesses to cooperate with him. In 1954 he formally met Imelda Romualdez (1929–) and married her.
Marcos was reelected twice, and in 1959 he was elected to the Philippine Senate. He was also the Liberal Party's vice-president from 1954 to 1961, when he successfully managed Diosdado Macapagal's (1911–1997) run for the Philippine presidency. As part of his arrangement with Marcos, Macapagal was supposed to step aside after one term to allow Marcos to run for the presidency. When Macapagal did not do this, Marcos joined the opposition Nationalist Party and became their candidate in the 1965 election against Macapagal and easily won. Marcos was now president of the Philippines.
The name Ferdinand Marcos conjures up images of oppressive rule and of his wife Imelda's huge collection of shoes. Marcos was elected president of the Philippines in 1965. His early accomplishments in developing rural areas were overshadowed by his eventual descent into crony capitalism and dictatorship.
Successive American administrations tolerated and supported Marcos in spite of his authoritarianism, seeking his help to maintain a sizable military presence in the country. America's bases in the Philippines played a vital role during the Vietnam War, and after the fall of South Vietnam in 1975, they served as a counterweight to the Soviet naval base in Cam Ranh Bay.
But the U.S. bases were a contentious issue for many Filipinos, who saw them as further evidence of America's enduring colonial meddling. While the bases did create jobs and boost the local economy, they also fueled crime and prostitution in adjacent communities.
Source U.S. News & World Report Magazine
Photograph Collection, Library of Congress
The families that endure and survive political upheaval are more likely to be those that have a sustainable economic base to finance their participation in electoral battles. Philippine elections are costly — a congressional campaign in 2004, according to campaign insiders, could have cost up to P30 million in Metro Manila. In rural areas, the price tag is much less: P10 million on averages, although campaigns can be run for P3 million or less in smaller districts where the competition is not too intense.
The investment may be worth it, as the rates of return can be high, depending on how well congressional office is exploited. Historically, families have been able to use their positions to expand their landholdings or their business empires, using their preferential access to privileges from the state — loans, franchises, monopolies, tax exemptions, cheap foreign exchange, subsidies, etc. These privileges have made political families wealthy, in turn allowing them to assemble formidable election machines that guarantee victory at the polls. The most successful families are those able to establish business empires not solely dependent on government largesse. They must also be competent enough to run these businesses well, allowing their members to survive electoral defeat and political ignominy.
Ferdinand Marcos comes to mind, if only because he was so adept at the tactics of establishing political hegemony. Marcos built his career by projecting himself as a World War II hero who formed Maharlika, a 9,200-strong band of anti-Japanese guerrillas that staged daring raids and sabotage operations in northern Luzon. The young Ferdinand was supposedly such a daredevil operator that he got 32 medals for his valiant efforts during the war.
Marcos, therefore, shows both the heights — and the limits — of mythmaking. A potent myth can sustain a political family for several generations, but only as long as the family attempts to live up to some part of that myth. Up to the last, even when he was very weak from lupus and undergoing dialysis, Marcos tried to project the myth of potency and invincibility, of the big, powerful man who would lead his country to greatness.
(The seven Ms of dynasty building by Sheila S. Coronel, Wednesday, March 14th, 2007 at pcij.org)
Ferdinand Marcos arrives at Andrews AFB, 1983
Visit to Washigton, District of Columbia
President Richard M Nixon visit to The philliphines
First Lady Patricia Nixon, President Ferdinand Marcos
President Richard Nixon and First Lady Imelda Marcos
Image from University of California, Los Angeles
Library, Department of Special Collections
In the early 1970s, a Maoist rebel group called the New People's Army (NPA) and a Muslim separatist group called the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) formed in the southern part of the country. The NPA expanded to include as many as 25,000 members while the MNLF received aid and arms from abroad. The United States, fearing communist insurgency, sent advisors to train the Philippine army, as well as millions of dollars in military aid and weapons.
The United States barely protested when Marcos used the struggle against insurgents as an excuse to crack down on all political opponents. Asked about the situation in the Philippines in 1984, President Ronald Reagan replied, "I know there are things there in the Philippines that do not look good to us from the standpoint right now of democratic rights, but what is the alternative? It is a large communist movement."
By the mid-1980s, Marcos's unpopularity among Filipinos was impossible to ignore. He faced not only a guerrilla war but also widespread public unrest. Hoping to placate his critics, Marcos announced a "snap" presidential election to be held in February 1986. Despite the government's attempts to fix the results, Marcos lost to Corazon Aquino, the wife of assassinated opposition leader Benigno Aquino. But Marcos stubbornly refused to concede defeat, even as senior members of his military defected and thousands of unarmed Filipinos took to the streets in an unprecedented display of "people power." The tense standoff ended when, at the urging of the United States, Marcos stepped down and went into exile.
Makiki Heights, Hawaii
From STAR-BULLETIN at archives.starbulletin.com
Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao Zedong, Idi Amin - These are some leaders who strike fear into the hearts of nations, whose massive shadow remains over the people long after their rule has passed. There are also leaders whose historical resonance has made them into some of the most feared people in history, names such as Nero and Attila the Hun certainly fall into that category. Though benevolent leaders do exist, it is most often dictators that gain the most press and historical resonance.
One of the many names that were added to that lengthy list in the 20th century was Ferdinand Marcos whose rule left thousands in the Philippines dead and missing. The period of martial law in particular wreaked havoc on the nation, damaging the infrastructure through embezzlement and forcing thousands to immigrate to western nations. Though far less damaging than other dictators, Marcos’ rule was one of the best known and most reviled in the world, due in large part to his flashy wife Imelda who often caught the eye of the media. Because of that reputation, when he was forced from power, Marcos secluded to Hawaii to live out the rest of days.
(Emil Uliya, International Correspondent at scrapetv.com)
When President Ferdinand Marcos imposed one-man rule in 1972, one of his first targets was the press. All radio, television and newspapers were shut down, and the few that were allowed to reopen were placed in the hands of trusted cronies. Strict censorship was put in place. The best publications, like the Free Press, were shuttered and their publishers and editors were jailed for a time.
Toward the end of the Marcos era, restrictions eased, corruption ate away at the regime, and public discontent grew. In the early 1980s, an alternative press emerged to challenge the government's version of events and a handful of outspoken columnists in the mainstream press--nearly all of them women--began chiding the regime with devastating effect. When opposition leader Benigno Aquino was murdered as he stepped off a plane that returned him from exile in 1983, this independent press grew in power. By the time of the failed 1986 elections and the so-called "people power" revolt that brought Benigno's widow, Corazon Aquino, to power, the press had played a major role in undermining Marcos. It was only fitting that, in the dramatic few days of the February 1986 revolt, many of the key street battles centered on radio and television stations. When the government lost control of its main television station, Channel 4, and jubilant pro-Aquino announcers went on the air, Marcos' struggle to hold power was lost and he fled the country in a matter of hours.
After Aquino took power, dozens of new newspapers were set up, the old Marcos cronies were out, and former owners of TV and radio empires returned from exile to reclaim their properties. The old order re-emerged; powerful families again saw the media as their domain. But consistent with the role the press played in the defeat of Marcos, there has also been an ongoing effort to hold government in check. When former President Joseph Estrada was ousted in 2001, the press ran detailed stories on his administration's corrupt ways.
(The Philippines: Amid troubles, a rich press tradition by A. Lin Neumann at cpj.org)