Ferdinand Edralin Marcos (1917 - 1989). Philippine dictator and tyrant.

Marcos became 6th president of the Philippines in 1965, following a bitter campaign against the incumbent Diosdado Macapagal. Before that, he was a congressman and then a senator. During World War II, Marcos was part of the Philippine army. During his presidency, he would boast about his heroic actions during the war. However, US documents would later show that his participation in the war was actually limited.

Although he was an opressive dictator, Marcos had done many positive things for the Philippines, during his early years as president. However, his presidency was soon troubled by Communist and Muslim rebels, and a strong, vocal opposition. In 1972, Marcos imposed martial law, supposedly as a way to quell the communist rebellion.

During martial law, Marcos jailed many oppositionist leaders, notably Benigno Aquino Jr., whose specter would later cause his downfall. Many suspected communists were also jailed and tortured, without facing trial. Many of those arrested during the martial law period are still missing, most of them are probably dead.

In 1973, a new constitution was passed, allowing Marcos to subvert the two-term limit that the old constitution mandated. In this constitution, he was allowed to remain president until martial law was lifted.

Martial law was finally lifted in 1981. And in an election seen by many as a charade, Marcos ran for president against a political non-entity and won for another six-year term.

In 1983, oppositionist Benigno Aquino, who was then in self-imposed exile in the United States, decided to return to the Philippines. He was shot in the head as he stepped out to the tarmac upon arriving at the Manila International Airport (since renamed the Ninoy Aquino International Airport).

This proved to be the straw that broke the camel's back. Opposition to the Marcos regime swelled, which allowed Corazon Aquino, Benigno's wife, to challenge Marcos to his presidency. Marcos held a snap elections in 1986, and was declared winner, despite evidence of massive fraud.

This provoked the People Power Revolution, which deposed Marcos and his family, who fled to the United States. Marcos had always maintained friendship with the US government. After being deposed, evidence arose that the Marcoses stole as much as several billion dollars from the government.

Marcos died in Honolulu in 1989. His wife, Imelda Marcos and family, eventually returned to the Philippines and even regained some political clout through the support of die-hard loyalists.


sources: britannica.com, encyclopedia.com, encarta.com
Note:If you are interested in what happened during the people power revolution, I refer you to the excellent People Power node.
Marcos, to have stayed in power for so long, must have been a smart man. This is proven by his history. While attending law school, he was charged with conspiracy in a murder. The murdered man, Julio Nalundasan, was a political rival of his father. He still managed to receive a Bachelor's of Law, graduating cum laude. He would have graduated magna cum laude had he not been in prison. He reviewed for the bar exam while in jail, and posted bail to take it. He scored extremely high on the exam. He was eventually found guilty for the murder, but appealed his own case to the Supreme Court. He successfully argued for acquittal, based on the prosecution's faulty case, before he had even started practicing law.

Okay, now for some stuff not found in most history books.

Marcos knew how to get the United States to support him. All he had to do was scream Communism. To be fair, there really was a problem with Communists and Muslims, especially in the south, but he milked it for all it was worth, while committing human rights violations and plundering the treasury. This lasted for well over a decade, and probably would have continued if not for the People Power revolution. The revolution was sparked largely in part by the assassination of Benigno Aquino. The assassination was rather blatant and it was obvious Marcos was behind it. However, it is doubtful Ferdie actualy gave the order. He was smart enough not to make a martyr out of the man, and besides, "Ferdie" was in extremely ill health at the time. It is rumored his wife, Imelda, was the one that ordered the hit.

I was too young to understand at the time, but I knew my parents had a hatred for this man. They were glued to CNN during the revolution, and it was an extremely joyous occassion. Like any good parent, they passed their hatred down to me. While visiting the Philippines shortly after the revolution, we visited a large statue of his face carved out of the side of a mountain (Think Mount Rushmore, on a slightly smaller scale). I promptly gave it the finger. The next day I caught a cold. My family joked that it was more than a coincidence.

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