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Ferdinand Marcos: The man who would be king

By PEPPER RODRIGUEZ

MANILA (UPI) -- -- Ferdinand Marcos believed he was destined to rule the Philippines and planned to establish a dynasty that would ensure his immortality. His plans nearly came to fruition.

Marcos's 20-year presidency ended by popular revolt in 1986. His body returned home in a casket Tuesday, four years after his death in exile. But his legacy of corruption and greed continues to hold the Philippines.

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A brilliant politician who took office in 1965 with charisma to turn the Philippines into an economic dragon, Marcos ended his political career as one of the world's biggest thieves with his country facing dire poverty.

He allegedly looted up to $5 billion from the country and left it with a $28 billion foreign debt.

A U.S. court last year held Marcos's estate liable for the torture, rape, and murder of an estimated 10,000 people from the time he declared martial law in 1972 until his ouster in 1986.

Former President Corazon Aquino, who was swept to office during the 1986 revolt, banned Marcos's body from the Philippines when he died in Hawaiian exile in 1986.

Her successor, President Fidel Ramos, allowed the body to return but stipulated it had to be flown directly to Marcos's northern home province and be buried there.

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Born Sept. 11, 1917 in the northern province of Ilocos Norte, Ferdinand was the son of Mariano Marcos, a school supervisor-turned-politician, and Josefa Edralin.

He became the most highly decorated Filipino of World War II for his actions as a guerrilla fighting Japanese occupying forces. But the validity of his 27 medals was thrown into doubt when official U.S. reports claimed he faked his record.

An ambitious politician and renowned speaker, Marcos's rise to power was swift. He was elected to Congress in 1949, promising to give his province mates a president in 20 years. He fulfilled his promise in 1965.

His wife, Imelda, a beauty queen he married after a whirlwind romance in 1954, became a powerful politician in her own right during Marcos's presidency.

She is best remembered for her extravagant spending sprees and the hundreds of pairs of shoes she left behind when the Marcoses fled in 1986.

During his first term, Marcos built roads and bridges in several areas of the country, especially in Ilocos Norte. Under his presidency the Philippines became a rice exporter for the first time.

He was elected to an unprecedented second term in 1969. But cracks had begun appearing in his administration.

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