1917 - 1988
Philippine President and Thiefby Rit Nosotro First Published:: 2003
Millions stashed in a frozen Swiss bank account. Dozens of crates of prized possessions shipped across oceans. A man dying in exile in Hawaii. These statements might bring to mind thoughts of James Bond or the latest action film, but in reality they pertain to the life of a real man: Ferdinand Marcos.
Born in 1917 to a Mariano Marcos, a politician, and Josefa Edralin, a teacher, Marcos entered the world in the south Asian islands of the Philippines. At the time, the islands had been controlled by the American government for only two decades since the Spanish-American War, and the political structure was still being established. Following after his father, Marcos enrolled at the University of the Philippines to study law after completing his foundational schooling, but his final year at the university was interrupted. The court called him to be tried for a murder which he had committed three years earlier. The victim was the political rival of his father, who had championed his father in a political race. A strong case stated that Marcos had shot the man the day after the race as the man celebrated in his home. Marcos was found guilty, yet he appealed the case to a higher court, the Philippine Supreme Court. He decided to put his knowledge of the law to a test by representing himself in court, and while being held for six months wrote his own 830 page appeal. After arguing his defense, the case was overturned, freeing him to return to court the next day in order to be certified as he had passed the bar exam. He became a trial lawyer in Manila, until beginning his service as an officer in the Philippine armed forces during World War II.
Marcos emerged from the war claiming to have led a guerrilla unit against the Japanese and to have been highly decorated by the American forces for his service, all of which proved to be falsehoods. In fact, he had spent much of the time during the war suffering in hospitals and causing disturbance which almost led to his execution at the conclusion of the war. The close of the war also acted as the end of America’s rule over the Philippines, establishing the country as independent. At this point Marcos redirected his career to politics, becoming the assistant to the first president of the new republic, Manuel Roxas. Several years later, in 1949, Marcos won a seat in the House of Representatives, becoming the youngest member. He quickly began establishing himself as a member of the Philippine elite, using his personal influence for great and practically instantaneous self gain. Marcos succeed in retaining his seat for two reelections, and withheld from entering the 1961 presidential candidacy under the understanding that the following election he would be given the spot. Backstabbed, Marcos was denied his guaranteed presidential nomination and instantaneously switched parties in the following election, surprisingly wining by a landslide. Promising improved living conditions and land reform under his leadership, Marcos’ true personal priority of self gain eventually became evident. As President, he fostered good relations with America, by encouraging the development of American military bases on the islands. These seemingly selfless acts actually allowed for billions of dollars to make their way into the Philippine economy, and for his wife, Imelda, to head up prestige projects which constructed elegant hotels and museums. The economy blossomed, and Marcos was reelected in 1969. His second term proved to be less smooth than his first, as the communist party began causing upset and citizens began to disapprove of American presence in the county and Marcos’ support of American’s stance towards Vietnam. According to law, Marcos reign was limited to two terms, yet at the end of his second term he declared marshal law to continue his rule, claiming that Communist rebel groups were causing upset on the islands. This act dissolved Congress and the constitution, establishing Marcos as the sole ultimate power.
Marcos became a dictator, preventing free speech and quelling any political opposition instantaneously. During the following years, Marcos and his wife amassed huge amounts of money, sucking them from the Philippine economy through controlled industry monopolies and banking. Marcos orders for military forces to be increased, tripling it in size between 1971 and 1983. Oppression increased as living standards collapsed and unrest among the people grew. In 1981, Marcos attempts to regain his people’s support by ending marshal law and conducting a rigged election in which he won by a landslide, but this only results in increased dissension. Attempting to gain favor again in 1986, Marcos holds another election, but this time the fraud sparks rebellion. The Marcoses are forced to run in exile to Hawaii, bringing with them countless precious personal belongings, jewels and gold, all stolen from his people. The Philippine government recovered millions from Marcos’ Swiss bank accounts, but only after significant investigation and aid from the Swiss government. Marcos remained in exile in Hawaii, despite rumors of planned attempts to regain control of the Philippines through invasion. In 1987 he was indicted by a American federal jury for fraud and obstruction of justice, but he died in Honolulu the following year before his trial was held.
Although Ferdinand Marcos’ life may seem like an exotic tale of adventure, his actions warranted hideous results. The country he claimed to rule was left in economic shambles, full of people who were denied their freedoms and adequate living standards. His life is a tale of destruction and selfish desires which wounded the history of a nation.
1. What war did Marcos serve in?
a) World War I b) World War II c) Vietnam War
2. What was Marcos imprisoned for?
a) Fraud b) Rape c) Murder
3. How many terms did Marcos serve as President before becoming dictator?
a) 2 b)1 c) 5
4. Marcos lived in exile in:
a) Sweden b) Hawaii c)Vietnam
Answers: 1. b 2. c 3. a 4. b
“Ferdinand Marcos,” Encyclopedia of World Biography. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. http://www.bookrags.com/biography/ferdinand-marcos/ All rights reserved. May 20, 2008.
“Ferdinand Marcos”. Moreorless: Heroes and Killers of the 20th century. November 24, 2007. <http://www.moreorless.au.com/killers/marcos.html> May 20, 2008.
"Ferdinand Marcos," Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia
http://encarta.msn.com © 1997-2008 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved. May 20, 2008.