The rise and fall -- and rise again -- of the Philippines' Marcos family

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos and first lady Imelda Marcos attend a ceremony in 1979 at Clark Air Force Base in Luzon, Philippines. File Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army
1 of 5 | Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos and first lady Imelda Marcos attend a ceremony in 1979 at Clark Air Force Base in Luzon, Philippines. File Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army

May 6 (UPI) -- For decades, the name "Ferdinand Marcos" would have struck anger and fear in most Filipinos, and any association with the late dictator might have been the kiss of death for a political campaign.

But on Monday, voters in the Philippines are poised to elect the son and namesake of the onetime dictator into power more than three decades after his father was deposed.


Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. of the Federal Party of the Philippines heads into Monday's election with 56% of Filipinos saying they'd vote for him, according to a Pulse Asia Research Inc. poll released Monday. He has more than double the support of his next-nearest opponent, Vice President Leni Robredo (23%). Seven percent of respondents said they'd vote for former boxing champion Manny Pacquiao.

The support for the younger Marcos is remarkable given how far his family -- including his mother, Imelda Marcos -- fell during the People Power Revolution.


Ferdinand Marcos rose to power in 1965 after nearly two decades in politics -- first working for the first president after independence from the United States, Manuel Roxas, then as a member of the House of Representatives and Senate. He broke with Roxas' Liberal Party after failing to receive its nomination for president in 1965, and was ultimately elected as a member of the Nationalist Party.

Early in his presidency, Ferdinand Marcos won the hearts of Filipinos, building up the country's infrastructure and giving his beauty-queen wife powers beyond those of a typical first lady. A UPI article on his legacy published in the days after his 1989 death said his administration "originally was likened to the Camelot of the John F. Kennedy years in the White House."

Ferdinand Marcos was the first leader of the Philippines to serve a second term, but despite his re-election general favorability in his first term, he faced growing discontent, particularly among students.

Ferdinand Marcos implemented martial law in 1972, jailing opposition members -- including Benigno Aquino Jr. -- and using the armed forces to carry out his will. He used violence to suppress opposition to his rule, silenced media outlets, confiscated some half-million firearms, and oversaw a fraudulent referendum to ratify his martial law in 1973.


The Marcos administration faced fierce threats even within its own ranks, with the politicized military stamping out at least five attempted coups.

He gradually amassed more power and wealth for himself, to the tune of $28 billion, much of which he stole from the Central Bank of the Philippines. The U.S. government estimates he made off with up to $10 billion of that in exile.

The first couple came to be associated with excess and a decadent lifestyle. Imelda Marcos was famous for her collection of thousands of pairs of shoes, racks of gowns and Gucci handbags.

Ferdinand Marcos ended martial law in 1981, the same year he was elected to a third term. Growing discontent with his rule spurred a non-violent revolution in 1986. Over the course of four days in February, some 2 million people protested the regime's violence -- including the assassination of popular opposition leader Aquino -- election fraud and financial corruption.

Multiple political, military and religious groups joined in support of the effort, also known as the Yellow Revolution, and the first family ultimately fled, seeking refuge in Hawaii.

Aquino's widow, Corazon Aquina, was sworn in as president, a role she served for six years.


Ferdinand Marcos died at the age of 72 in 1989, still in exile in Hawaii. He initially was interred in a mausoleum on the island of Oahu, but his body was moved to a crypt in the Philippines in 1993.

In 2016, he was quietly given a hero's burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, the national cemetery, to the outcry of those who remembered his brutal and dictatorial reign.

Filipino priests hold placards during a protest against the burial of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the People Power Monument in Quezon City on November 18, 2016. File Photo by Mark R. Cristino/European Press Agency

Despite protests against his burial at the revered cemetery, opposition to Imelda Marcos and his son, Bongbong Marcos waned in recent years.

The former first lady, now 92, returned to the Philippines in the 1990s and served as a member of the House of Representatives from 1995 to 1998 and again for nine years beginning in 2010. Bongbong Marcos was governor and vice governor of Ilocos Norte for a combined 15 years, before serving in the House. He most recently served six years in the Senate.

Bongbong Marcos is running for the presidency as a member of the Federal Party of the Philippines, which was formed by supporters of outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte. The party seeks to navigate the Philippines' unitary system of government to a federal one consisting of provinces or states.


His running mate is Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, the daughter of the current president.

Though the younger Marcos has plenty of detractors from those who remember the atrocities of his father's regime, observers blame a lack of education about the dictatorship and misinformation by the Marcoses for the new support and BongBong Marcos' likely win.

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