Ferdinand Marcos biography
A lawyer, a member of the Philippine House of Representatives (1949-1959) and a member of the Philippine Senate (1959-1965), Ferdinand Marcos became the president of the Philippines in 1966, a post he held until 1986, when his people rose against his dictatorial rule and he fled.
Ferdinand Marcos went to school in Manila and later attended law school at the University of the Philippines. His father, Mariano Marcos, was a Filipino politician, and on September 20, 1935, the day after Julio Nalundasan defeated Mariano Marcos for a seat in the National Assembly (for the second time), Nalundasan was shot and killed in his home. Ferdinand, Mariano and Ferdinand’s brother and brother-in-law were tried for the assassination, and Ferdinand and his brother-in-law were found guilty of the murder. Ferdinand argued their case on appeal to the Philippine Supreme Court and won acquittal a year later.
Remarkably, while Marcos was preparing his case, he was studying for the bar exam and became a trial lawyer in Manila subsequent to the acquittal.
During World War II, Ferdinand Marcos served as an officer with the Philippine armed forces, later claiming that he had been a leader in the Filipino guerrilla resistance movement. These claims were a principal element in his subsequent political success, but it was revealed in U.S. government archives that he actually played little or no part in anti-Japanese activities during World War II.
At the end of the war, when the American government granted the Philippines independence on July 4, 1946, the Philippine Congress was created. Marcos ran and was twice elected as representative to his district and served from 1949 to 1959. In 1959, Marcos took a seat in the Philippine Senate, a position he would hold until he ran for and won the presidency in 1965.
Ascension to the Presidency
After failing to attain the Liberal Party’s nomination for president, Ferdinand Marcos ran as the Nationalist Party candidate. At the end of the expensive and bitter campaign, Marcos prevailed and was inaugurated on December 30, 1965. His first presidential term is notable mostly for his decision to send troops into the fray of the Vietnam War, a move he had previously opposed as a Philippine senator.
Marcos was reelected in 1969, becoming the first Filipino president to serve a second term. Massive crowd violence, vote buying and fraud on Marcos’ part, however, were prominent traits of his second campaign, which was funded with $56 million from the Philippine treasury. What arose from the campaign unrest became known as the First Quarter Storm, during which leftists took to the streets to demonstrate against both American involvement in Philippine affairs and the increasingly apparent dictatorial style of Ferdinand Marcos.
State of the Regime and Downfall
Ferdinand Marcos' wife, Imelda, became a powerful figure after martial law was decreed in 1972, often appointing her relatives to lucrative governmental and industrial positions (while accumulating upward of 1,000 pairs of shoes and several Manhattan skyscrapers). These acts were akin to Marcos’ state-imposed "crony capitalism," by which private businesses were seized by the government and handed over to friends and relatives of regime members.
Indicative of the entire Marcos administration, these acts would eventually lead to economic troubles for the Philippines and further civil unrest.
Marcos' later years in power were marred by widespread government corruption (which turned out to be the central legacy of his regime), economic stagnation, a widening economic gap between the rich and poor and the growth of a communist guerrilla uprising. By the early 1980s, change was coming to the Philippines.
To this end, on August 21, 1983, Benigno Aquino Jr. returned from his long exile to offer the Philippine people a new face of hope. Unfortunately, he was shot dead by his military escort as he stepped off the plane in Manila. The assassination was seen as the work of the government and ignited massive countrywide protests. An independent commission appointed by Marcos concluded a year later that high military officers were responsible for Aquino's assassination, although it has since been suggested that Marcos or even his wife had ordered the killing.
Also contributing to Marcos' downfall was the resolution signed in 1985 by 56 assemblymen calling for his impeachment for allegedly diverting U.S. aid to his personal coffers. To quiet the opposition and reassert his position of power, Marcos called for presidential elections to be held in 1986. Corazon Aquino, the widow of Benigno Aquino, emerged as a formidable opponent and became the presidential candidate of the opposition.
Marcos, however, managed to defeat Aquino and retain the presidency, but it was quickly revealed that his victory was only ensured through massive voting fraud carried out by his supporters. As word spread of the rigged election, Marcos was discredited at home and abroad, and a tense standoff ensued between his supporters and those of Corazon Aquino.
With his health failing and support for his regime fading fast, on February 25, 1986, with the United States urging him on, Ferdinand Marcos went into exile in Hawaii. Evidence was later uncovered showing that Marcos, his family and his associates had embezzled billions of dollars from the Philippine economy through various corrupt practices. The U.S. government subsequently indicted Marcos and his wife on racketeering charges, but Ferdinand died in 1989, and Imelda was acquitted of all charges and was allowed to return to the Philippines the following year.