Ferdinand Emmanuel Edralin Marcos Sr. was the 10th President of the Republic of the Philippines, a native of Sarrat, Ilocos Norte, born on September 11, 1917. He earned a law degree at the University of the Philippines College of Law in 1939.
In 1933, the young Marcos was prosecuted for the murder assassination of Julio Nalundasan, a political rival of his father, Mariano Marcos. After appealing to the Supreme Court, Marcos was acquitted the following year.
Despite his time in prison, he was a top scorer during the 1939 Bar Examinations and eventually became a trial lawyer in Manila. He became a Philippine Armed Forces officer during Word War II with claims of being the recipient of several war medals and decorations. Researchers later proved the commendations to be false and inaccurate.
Marcos married Imelda Romualdez, a singer and beauty queen, in 1954. They had three children, Maria Imelda, Ferdinand “Bongbong,” and Irene. They later adopted a fourth child, Aimee.
Political Career and Regime
Marcos was a technical assistant to Manuel Roxas (1946 to 1947) and later served as Congressman of the 2nd District of Ilocos Norte for three consecutive terms (1949-1959). He later won a Senate seat under the Liberal Party and became a Senate minority floor leader in 1960. From 1963 to 1965, he went on to become Senate President.
Moving to the Nacionalista Party after failing to get the Liberal Party’s support for nomination as President, he ran against Diosdado Macapagal of the Liberal Party and won the election in 1965. He was re-elected in 1969, becoming the country’s first president to serve a second term.
The day of September 21, 1972, was a critical point in Marcos’ reign when he declared martial law in the country. Asserting that the acts of communist and seditious groups triggered the rising crisis, he began to detain opposition political leaders, one of which was Benigno Aquino, Jr.
The Armed Forces also became a powerful arm, and even his wife, Imelda, became a prevailing figure during this period. Appointments of her relatives to lucrative government positions caught the public’s eye, including government positions she held. In January 1981, Marcos announced the end of martial law, but his pressing authoritarian rule continued.
The assassination of Benigno Aquino Jr. on August 21, 1983, sparked countrywide protests. This increased national concerns of rampant corruption, social inequalities, and economic collapse.
Marcos began to lose the support of the wealthy and middle-class citizens who pushed to end his rule, which prompted him to declare special presidential elections in 1986, with Corazon Aquino as the opposition candidate. His victory was believed to be fabricated, and tensions escalated between the two sides. It eventually led thousands of citizens to march on the streets, historically known as EDSA Revolution.
With deteriorating health and diminishing public support, Marcos and his family fled to exile in Hawaii. Ferdinand Marcos later died of cardiac arrest and complications in 1989 in Honolulu.
Significant Contributions and Projects
Though Marcos was well remembered for the kind of regime he ran, he had several notable achievements and projects during his time.
Healthcare institutions built during his time were the Philippine Heart Center, the Lung Center of the Philippines, and the National Kidney and Transplant Institute which continues to serve the public.
There are also some cultural and heritage sites like the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the Folks Art Theater, the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), and the Makiling Center for the Arts (formerly The National Arts Center). The Nayong Pilipino and the People’s Park in the Sky (Tagaytay City) were also established by Marcos.
Infrastructure projects were the highlights of Marcos’ presidency. The construction of national roads and road networks helped transport local goods, which boosted regional commerce and trade.
Water systems like major and community irrigation systems and hydroelectric power plants enhanced the agricultural industry across the nation. Marcos’s important accomplishments are the Upper Pampanga River Project, Angat Multi-Purpose Power and Irrigation Project, and the Magat River Project.
Marcos also addressed the surge of people to urban areas by coming up with the BLISS Project or Bagong Lipunan Improvement of Sites and Services, providing urban housing to the poor. Improvements in public elementary school buildings were one of his earliest projects.