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marcos political career
It was his job to set up civilian administration in the provinces
Volckmanns guerrillas controlled. His leadership was as excellent as always, and he
dealt out justice to outlaws and established unimpeachable personalities in positions of
command. His ambition, however was to enter Harvard and earn a doctorate in corporate law.
He declined President Manuel Roxas offer of a seat in Congress and went to practice
law in Manila in March 1946. He was preparing to go to the American university the
Marcos was later persuaded
to become a professional politician. He chose his fathers old domain and went into
his new career with spirit. He told the crowds in Ilocos Norte that if he were elected
Congressman, "I pledge you an Ilocano President in 20 years." (He made it into
presidency in 16 years.)
With a 70% vote, he was sent
off to Congress and thrice became Ilocos Nortes representative to the legislature.
Congressman Marcos was an activist presencebut he was a scholarly and introverted
activist, unlike the boisterous, gladhanding politician typical of that time. He was
unafraid to champion an unpopular cause if he thought it just. The Manila Times
wrote, "He played a large part in developing a new conscience in the lower
house," which was a comment in regards to his integrity during the time of
carpetbaggers. Economic policy, agricultural modernization, the protection and extension
of civil rights, the enhancement of professional ethics in politics and civil service were
Congressman Marcos interests. He was the one who wrote the original land-reform code
in 1952, as well as other seminal bills on government incentives to commerce and industry.
In 1954, he met Imelda
Romualdez in the Congress cafeteria. Despite the simplicity of her appearanceshe was
in casual houseclothes and slippersshe impressed him. He knew at that moment she
would have to be his wife.
Though they seemed an
unlikely match, Marcos being a Liberal and an Ilocano and Imelda being a Nacionalista by
family tradition and a Visayan, he pursued her. They married at a civil ceremony in Baguio
after 11 days of courtship. Two weeks later, on May 1, 1954, they were married at the Pro
Cathedral of San Miguel in Manila. President Ramon Magsaysay, the principal sponsor, held
the breakfast reception in Malacaņang Palace, where 3,000 of Manilas official and
social elite were invited.
They were celebrated by the
media, their wedding publicized as the "Wedding of the Year." The groom was
among the most outstanding young politicians in the country, whose public image as a
reputable trial lawyer and legislative figure was magnified by his dashing, charismatic
personality. The bride carried a name which was respected in both political circles and
social register, and whose beauty and fine voice could charm gatherings.
After the marriage, Marcos
had his house in San Juan renovated and added a wing for his law office so that he could
spend as much time as he could with his family.
The First Couple
decided on a small family and spaced the birth of their children accordingly. Their first
child, Imelda (Imee), was born in 1955, followed by Ferdinand Jr. (Bongbong, Marcos
war-name as a guerrilla leader) in 1958, then Irene in 1960, as Marcos was beginning his
first term in the Senate. (He was elected into the senate in 1959.)
All through this time, he was
moving inevitably up the political ladder. At this time his party was a tiny minority in
national politics, yet he came first in the winners column to the upper
houseand became what the Times called "the young elder statesman."
At this point, he was still
barely over 40. He was acknowledged leader of the North. His following in eight Luzon
provinces, especially among the Ilocanos, was unequaled. The laws he drew up resulted in
material prosperity for large parts of the country. He was a Congressional watchdog
against corruption, waste and ineptitude, and he had earned a reputation as an honest
It was on December 30, 1965,
that Marcos took up the leadership of a nation in crisis. Self-reliance and hard work to
uplift the economic and social condition of all the people, nationalism at home and
greater independence in foreign policy became the goals of Marcos life.
His first term was innovative
and inspirational. He invigorated both populace and bureaucracy. Marcos embarked on a huge
infrastructure program, unifying the scattered islands through a network of roads,
bridges, rails and ports, committing all the available resources to development. He
carefully steered the Republics diplomacy during a period of transition in
international relations, which saw the confrontation of the Cold War give way to peaceful
negotiations. He was host to the Vietnam allies at the Manila Summit of 1966, and embarked
on intense personal diplomacy throughout the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian
Marcos and Imeldas
partnership had an almost similar charm as that of Juan Peron and Eva Duarte. Imelda
proved her worth in their marriage by working side by side with her husband. As First
Lady, she busied herself with social welfare and cultural projects that complemented
Marcos work in economics and foreign affairs.
Imelda began restoring
Intramuros as a tourist attraction, and started filling in waterfront on Manila Bay on
which to build a sprawling Cultural Center. This was followed by a film center where she
could stage film festivals, Miss Universe contests and professional boxing matches between
such reigning champions as Joe Frazier and Mohammed Ali. She sponsored tree planting and
beautification and cleanliness drives at Luneta Park and around historic cemeteries.
Her social welfare program
included Christmas bags, home gardens, disaster relief and a project called
Save-a-Life-in-Every-Barrio. Funding came from various sources, both local and foreign.
Marcos four years of
presidency earned him a record that surpassed that of any of the five presidents before
him. In 1969, he was returned to a second termthe first Filipino President to be so
re-electedand with the highest majority ever recorded in Philippine electoral
The national problems,
however, were much graver than could be solved in any single term of office. Combining
into an explosive force were poverty, social inequity and rural stagnation, the burden of
centuries coupled with rising expectations, a bounding birthrate and mass-education.
Marcos was trapped between the entrenched oligarchy, which controlled the Congress and the
firebrands from the Manila student movement in the peasant regions of Luzon.
As a result of this, Marcos
sent out the Army to face the resurgence of armed Communist activity and the emergence of
Maoist urban guerrillas. In August 1971, the write of habeas corpus was suspended.
This worked in the short
term, but as soon as it was lifted, radical agitation started again. By the middle of
1972, nearly the entire media turned dead set against the Administration and government
was beginning to be slowed down by the intense rivalry between the political parties.
The economic effects of this
paralysis of government were made worse by great floods which in the Luzon plain ruined
much of agriculture, infrastructure and industry. The people wallowed deeper in cynicism
and despair. In Manila, crime, pornography and violence drove citizens from the streets.
Invoking the last constitutional defense of the state, President Ferdinand E. Marcos
declared martial law on September 21, 1972.