He was born on September 11, 1917 in Sarrat, Ilocos Norte. His father was Mariano Marcos, a teacher district supervisor, lawyer and politician; and his mother was Josefa Quetulio Edralin Marcos, a public school teacher librarian.
Ferdinand descended from families of means. His paternal grandfather, Fabian Marcos, was a gobernadorcillo of Batac. His maternal grandmother, Fructuoso Edralin was considered “the most important man of his time” in Sarrat, according to some biographers. He had fought during the Philippine Revolution under General Antonio Luna.
Ferdinand learned his alphabet from his parents. As a boy, he always wanted to excel. He never settled for being second to anyone in any activity. He topped his class and did very well in sports. From his first grades up to his higher learning he obtained excellent ratings. At the University of the Philippines where he earned his law degree, he graduated cum laude after being awarded scholarship.
In athletics, he distinguished himself by winning medals in boxing, wrestling and swimming. He won a championship in forensics. He also won the Quezon medal for oratory, an Avancena cup for scholarship in law, and the President’s medal for the best thesis.
Ferdinand topped the 1939 bar examinations, getting one of the highest grades in bar history. He accomplished his feat even while undergoing his own murder trial of the Nalundasan case. He reviewed or the bar in a detention cell and look the examinations under guard. He personally defended himself at the trial and won an acquittal.
Career in Government
In 1948, Ferdinand was determined on practicing his law profession but he was prevailed upon by President Manuel Roxas to try his hand at politics. He ran for the congressional seat of Ilocos Norte and won consecutively for three years. He became senator in 1960He held vital positions in both the House and the Senate.
In the Senate, he was first Minority Floor Leader and then President. He was also a member of the National Economic Council, the Council Leaders and the Council of States. As a lawmaker, he introduced the greatest number of important bills.
He took part in the treaty-ratifying functions of the Senate and participated in many foreign policy debates. He headed the Philippine delegation to the Colombo Plan Conference in Ottawa, Canada in 1954 and was a member of the annual Philippine delegation to the UN General Assembly in 1954, 1961 and 1962.
With the battlecry “This nation can be great again”, Ferdinand Marcos won the presidential election of November 5, 1965. He took his oath of office on December 30, 1965 as the sixth president of the Philippine Republic.
He assumed his office beset by many problems. The national treasury was almost empty. The government was short of funds for essential services including national defense, health, social welfare, education and infrastructure. It seemed that his battlecry would be a hard task.
President Marcos was set on achieving two important goals: self-sufficiency and self-improvement. He concentrated on the distribution of natural resources for the social and economic benefits of all the people, rather than a privileged few.
Martial Law – the Dark years
President Ferdinand Marcos imposed martial law in order to extend his term. Other aims that he gave are to save the Republic and to reform society. He prolonged his stay in power but the other aims that he gave did not materialize. The Philippine conditions became worse than ever and the country suffered the greatest political, economic and moral decline in postwar history.
Thousands of anti-Marcos people and activists were arrested and confined in military stockades, some temporarily and many others for long periods of time. Many political prisoners are still not free and many disappeared.
Newspapers, television and radio stations, printing presses and other means of communication were either closed or placed under military control. Also placed under government control vital public utilities and industries. The Congress was abolished. Local governments were also placed under the president’s control.
President Marcos said his aim was to form a New Society – a society that would be disciplined, self-sufficient, peaceful and self-reliant. According to him, martial law would have a lasting effect if there were great reforms in the spheres of national life. He said that the conquest of mass poverty and the democratic distribution of wealth were the prime aims for the New Society. He therefore promised to strengthen the national economy, expand and improve government services, institute land reform and redistribute incomes and opportunities.
Later, he claimed that “more had been achieved in the three years of martial law than in the previous thirty years of the New Republic”. True, there had been land reforms, buildings of infrastructure, tapping of new resources of energy, rising of international reserves up to 1977, increase of local and foreign investments, increase of number of tourists between 1972-1980; decrease of unemployment.
Thus it was said that Marcos and Martial Law had really brought prosperity to the nation. However, behind this vitality and prosperity were problems which later became the roots of the most terrible political and economic crises.
Despite the seeming growth, there was mass powerty - high prices due to inflation, low salaries and wages. Corruption of the worst kind happened. The rich became richer and poor poorer.
President Marcos and the wife, Imelda Romualdez Marcos became the leders of a conjugal dictatorship. “What Marcos wanted, Marcos got. What Imelda wanted, Imelda got”. There were no more political parties, no free press, no academic freedom, no respect for human rights, no justice, no accountability for the people. The lifting of Martial law on January 17, 1981, was considered just a "face-lifting" to show foreign powers and creditors that ths Philippine was still a democracy.
Because of the worsening state of the nation, the refusal of the president to step down in spite of the people’s clamor, the opposition members of the Batasan took the historic step in filing a case for the impeachment of the President.
The impeachment did not materialized because there were Marcos loyalists who rejected the resolution. And so President Marcos remained in power in spite of the oppression felt by the people.
The Snap Election of 1986 and People Power
President Marcos was forced to call for a special presidential election to prove that he was still the people’s choice. Assemblyman Arturo Tolentino was his running mate for vice-president.
The UNIDO and PDP-Laban party jointly fielded their official candidates: Corazon Aquino for president and Salvador Laurel for vice-president.
The KBL battlecry was “Marcos pa rin” and the Cory-Doy slogan were: “Tama na, Sobra na, palitan na”. In the honest counting of the votes at the snap election, Corazon Aquino and Salvador Laurel had won. After the huge rally and people power that protested against the socalled official tallies of the COMELEC proclaiming Marcos-Tolentino win, President Marcos ended his reign. The people won after a peaceful revolution of four days.
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