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.