Metro Manila · Ferdinand Marcos (* 11 September 1917, † 28 September 1989)
Hated by many but still admired by some, former president and dictator Ferdinand Marcos is the person who shaped the Philippines in the second half of the 20th century -more than anybody ever did. Traces of his two-decade-long reign can still be found everywhere: in infrastructure and pompous architecture, in the economic power structure, in still pending legal cases, and in social problems that originated from or worsened in the Marcos era.
Ferdinand Marcos was born in Sarrat, Ilocos Norte in 1917. He studied law like his father and received a near-perfect score in the 1939 Philippine Bar exam. A year earlier, the then 22-year-old Marcos was prosecuted for murdering a political rival of his father Mariano Marcos. The young Ferdinand spent some time in jail where he reviewed for the bar exam. Marcos, on appeal, later defended himself in a court of law where the decision was reversed. Marcos was acquitted.
After World War II Ferdinand Marcos started his steep political career. He became a member of the House of Representatives, president of the Liberal Party and of the Senate and finally became the democratically elected 10th President of the Philippines in 1965.
He married Imelda Romualdez in 1954. Romualdez, a former beauty queen whose glamorous lifestyle would later be admired and despised at the same time, is now a Congresswoman, years after Ferdinand Marcos's death.
In Marcos' first years of presidency, the economy grew, the country's financial situation improved, and Marcos cemented its relations with the the United States. But by the late 1960s and early '70s, the economic suffered a downturn and there was civil unrest. The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) campaigned for an independent Muslim state, the New People's Army (NPA) fought for revolution, and students protested heavily against the government.
Marcos used all of the above to justify the declaration of Martial Law in 1972 but his biggest reason was the communism scare that was happening in the country. His declaratio of Martial Law brought Philippine democracy to a halt for nearly 14 years. Ferdinand Marcos and his men, including Fidel V. Ramos and Juan Ponce Enrile, curtailed civil liberties, imprisoned tens of thousands of people, and closed down congress and media establishments. The economy improved in the beginning of this dark period of the country's history, but corruption soared and the friends and family of Marcos established a regime of Kleptocrats.
In 1981, the opposition strengthened their forces and by 1983, their battlecry gained more traction upon the assassination of one of Marcos' staunchest critics, Benigno Aquino, Jr. Mass protests arose after Marcos was once again declared President after the election of 1985 against Corazon Aquino, the widow of Benigno Aquino, Jr. The so-called EDSA Revolution or People Power Revolution of 1986 took place. It was heavily supported by some members of the country's elite finally driving Marcos into exile. He and his family went to Hawaii. Riddled with illness, Marcos reportedly pleaded with the Aquino administration to return home. His request fell on deaf ears and the dictator died in Hawaii in 1989. He finally made it home later on, his embalmed body can be visited in the Ferdinand Marcos Museum and Mausoleum in in Batac City, Ilocos Norte - his hometown.
In 2016, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, a former mayor from Davao City in the southern part of the country, said that he is allowing the burial of Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Hero's Cemetery). This was opposed by the left and by many anti-Marcos groups. The groups added that Marcos is no hero. Contrary to popular belief however, Libingan ng mga Bayani is not a hero's cemetery but a burial ground for soldiers, generals, and former heads of state. The Libingan ng mga Bayani issue is among the most controversial news bits coming from the Philippines in recent times and has brought to life the unending debate between the pro-Marcos and the anti-Marcos.
Although Mr. Duterte's decision of finally putting Marcos to rest at the Libingan ng mga Bayani is based on his desire to heal the nation, many groups went against it. The planned burial for September 18th 2016 did not happen but many are still fervently fighting for it. The remains of Mr. Marcos are still in his hometown in Batac, Ilocos Norte.