Saturday, September 21, 2013


Early this month, I asked my fourth year students to create artistic posters of post-war/contemporary Filipinos who they consider as their heroes. This is part of our observance of National History Month last August. Initially, I am pleased with their outputs because most of it are well made and depicts popular personalities today like CNN Hero Efren Penaflorida, former DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo, former Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. and former President Corazon Aquino. Some even fielded lesser known names in the field of social change like Gawad Kalinga’s Tony Meloto, child wonder Kesz Valdez, RockEd founder Gang Badoy, and even rapper Francis Magalona.

However, I was struck speechless by what one student chose as his hero: former President and Dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos.

This incident is but a mere testament to the gravity of unawareness prevailing in today’s generation regarding the horrors of Martial Law and the abuses of the Marcoses and their cronies. In social media, you can observe how appalling this gravity is; it has washed clean the consciousness of every post-People Power Revolution generation beginning from those born in the 80s up to the millenials.

I am a 90s kid, but growing up watching news on TV and reading tons of newspapers and history books has made me fully aware of transgressions committed by the Marcos regime. But for people unlike me, I have a chilling fear that my generation (and generations to come) might not know what these transgressions are and that they might even revive the personality cult of this evil strongman. What could be influencing them even as we celebrated People Power annually for the past 27 years through street demonstrations and countless TV specials and granite memorials?

I’d like to believe there is an ongoing pro-Marcos lobby going on since 2010. While it cannot be directly tied with evidence, it is worth noticing that pro-Marcos videos, blog posts, and other social media have surged dramatically in the run up to the 2010 Presidential Elections where the strongman’s son and heir-apparent Bongbong Marcos first ran as senator and won. Of course, it is common knowledge where Bongbong is setting his sights on after securing his Senate seat.

Facebook and Youtube are all afire with conversations about FM being “the best president of the Philippines”, “that FM and Ninoy weren’t enemies but best friends”, and that “Cory Aquino handed Ninoy divorce papers” prior to his assassination. Marcos loyalists dominate and control the discussion in these sites using various statements to laud Marcos’ achievements and dismiss credible primary sources about his corruption and human rights record as mere manipulation by the media.

Let’s explore some of their arguments and counter them with common sense and (of course) with primary historical sources:

1. “Marcos is the best president! He built a lot of infrastructure projects that still exist today such as the San Juanico Bridge, the Patapat Viaduct, and the Candaba Viaduct. During his term, the PNR (Philippine National Railways) extends up to Bicol and Pangasinan!"

Three of Manila’s bridges—the Quezon, Jones, and MacArthur Bridges—were all built during President Manuel L. Quezon’s term. Also, the Manila City Hall, the PhilPost Building, and the National Museum, which were built during Quezon’s term and destroyed or damaged in World War II, were rebuilt during the time of President Manuel Roxas. It was also during Roxas’ term that the Manila International Airport (NAIA Terminal 1 today) was built from its original location in Nielsen Field (now Ayala Avenue, Makati). The Manila Railway Company (now the PNR), whose railway lines were also damaged during the war began its rehabilitation during the Roxas’ term and continued in succeeding administrations.

It is also worth noting that most of FM’s infrastructure projects were funded by loans from foreign creditors such as the IMF and the World Bank. Hence, Philippine foreign debt surged from $360 million in 1962 to $28.3 billion in 1986. Morever, Marcos and his allies are known to overprice these infrastructure projects in order to siphon kickbacks amounting to billions of dollars for their own personal whims.

It stumps me how the loyalists could laud Marcos’ infrastructure projects when other presidents before and after him have also fielded great engineering feats. All these infrastructure projects still exist and are being used; yet, very few have lauded the Presidents who envisioned them. So why single out FM as if he is the progenitor of all infrastructure projects in the Philippines?

2. “The Philippines’ had the best performing economy during Marcos’ time. The prices of commodities were cheaper compared today and the peso-dollar exchange was at a dollar per peso!”

Most people associated with this comment were born between 1940 and 1960. Give them a light tap in the shoulder and remind them that prices today are indeed higher today compared to the 70s because of changing inflation rates. Remind them too that back in their days, their grandparents used to say too that commodities were cheaper during the Commonwealth period.

Source: BSP
As for the economy being the best during Marcos’ term, no statistical record can substantiate this. Numbers don’t lie and even the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has released records of the peso-dollar exchange being at P3.50 to a dollar in 1966 after Marcos came to power. When he left in 1986, it was at P20.53 to a dollar!

Moreover, our gross domestic product (the total amount of products and services produced in the country) dropped from 3.4% in 1966 to 1.4% in 1986. We fared poorly compared to our Southeast Asian neighbors who fielded better GDPs such as Thailand (5.3%), Singapore (7.7%), Indonesia (5.7%), and Malaysia (5.1%). Thus, despite “revolutionary” programs such as the “Green Revolution” (which were funded by loans), many Filipinos (especially in the countryside) suffered great poverty because of their inability to adopt and adjust to new farming techniques introduced by the regime which were beneficial only to the landed elite. Between 1972 and 1980, agricultural output went down by 30%, unemployment exploded from 6.8% in 1972 to 27.65% in 1985, thus leading to a 40% hunger and malnutrition rate among the general population in 1978 (when Martial Law was at its peak).

3. “Society was better during Marcos’ time; people are disciplined and were afraid to break the law.”

If this was the case, then the succeeding generations of those who were “disciplined” during Martial Law should be well behaved and even more disciplined by now since their parents (and grandparents) had a much “disciplined” upbringing! But this isn’t the case, since we have more shameless lawbreakers today in every fabric of our society, from the grassroots up to the elite. Why is this so?

Marcos conditioned society to fear laws instead of respecting them. If people followed laws in their own accord, they would be following it even without the fear of death or any other penalty. But during Martial Law, our constitution—the 1973 Constitution—was almost penned by Marcos’ hand because the Interim Batasang Pambansa was but a mere rubber stamp of his punitive policies.

Of course, who would follow a rule that was not agreed upon by everyone? No one. Thus, Marcos had to use fear to enforce his laws, even to the point of committing grave human rights violations. He conditioned society that he was doing all these to correct a “corrupt and undisciplined society”, but all of it is a pretext to what he planned as a silent doing away of all groups and figures who were opposed to his political and economic schemes which served himself, his friends, and his foreign political handlers.

4. “Marcos is not as corrupt as politicians today!”

Actually, he’s just as worse as them. Maybe even worse.

Given that his administrations’ economic “growth” was funded by international loans, he and his cronies had a huge cash cow in their tow. All in all, he accumulated $30 billion from foreign loans, government funds, and private businesses seized during Martial Law. From this amount, $450 million would go to various escrow accounts in Switzerland, lavish real estate properties in the United States (under the name William Saunders, an alias he used in World War II), as well as a collection of shoes and jewelry to please his wife Imelda who was pining over his unfaithfulness by having a sexual affair with actress Dovie Beams. This is aside from the fact that he used bribery and coercion to buy votes and rig the results of the 1969, 1981, and 1986 elections.

It can be said that the crooks and thieves of today’s society like former President Joseph Estrada, former President Gloria Arroyo, Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, Bong Revilla, and Bongbong Marcos, as well as Janet Lim-Napoles, Gen. Carlos Garcia, Jocjoc Bolante, the Euro-Generals, to name a few, all took a page from Marcos’ book.

So why are many Filipinos still idolizing him now more than ever?

With every fabric of our society soaked in the bathwater of corruption, majority of Filipinos are left with very little choice. We have a president, whose agenda is to fight corruption, but can't fully get his hands on dismantling its gears and cables completely because he is afraid of losing popular support for his polices and his party in 2016. On the other side, we have extremist politicians who want to dismantle the very democratic foundations of this society and replace it with an undemocratic one. We already know what happened to these societies, right?

Hence, out of the need for order, continuity, and survival, some Filipinos would chose to look up to Marcos and his offspring. He was a strongman after all—a strongman who stole, lied, and cheated—but still a strongman compared to weaklings, cheats, and crooks of today. These Filipinos chose to forget their principles and deny the very truth in our history books because the post-EDSA breed of leaders and politicians have left them with very little to look up to.

If only they realize that they shouldn’t be looking up at anyone.

When it comes to our country’s good, we don’t owe anyone a favor, whether it’s Marcos, Estrada, or Aquino. We are a nation who implored the aid of God to set up a government that reflects our ideals and aspirations—ideals that are pure and chaste. But with our little education and feeble minds we were deceived by these people to trust them with our hands, minds, and pockets. Now that we know better, are we still going to trust our country’s good to these kinds of people and their offspring?

We owe it to ourselves to setup a good government and bring about a better nation. Hence, we shouldn’t elect strongmen (or women) to save us from ourselves and each other. We MUST save ourselves by being respectful of the covenants we made with ourselves and others: by respecting our laws against cheating, lying, stepping on each other’s rights (among others) and by upholding our laws that promote peace, community, cooperation, wealth-sharing, and mutual growth.

More than ever, we are the heroes who can save this nation. If only we remember and never forget. TSS


Photo credits: GMA News Online and Ferdinand Marcos for President 2016 Facebook Page


  1. In addendum.

    for point 1.

    As early as the Spanish Occupation, there was the Manila-Dagupan railways; this railway would serve as the precursor of the PNR.

    Nawa'y may magsalin sa Filipino at magpakalat sa marami :)

  2. Thank you for your great post. I really appreciate the efforts you have put in your blog .It is interesting and helpful.

  3. AminullahAlontoLucmanFebruary 4, 2014 at 12:10 AM

    People at the helm especially being presidents, as head of government it is nominal duty to do projects, better up lives of constituencies especially relying on such a leadership. Criminal behavior like mobsters, Mafioso murderers when it become identical in character attributes like that which Marcos did as martial law iron ruler, is truly worth our guard and because not probing on them will have many more of our youth duped, I suggest we have for us war crime courts. This special courts will show us true state of our country's leaders, only by prosecuting war criminals can we find ourselves really past his infractions.

  4. Of all the usual argument, this is the argument that I laugh at the most, "if you aren't born then, you don't know the situation"

    First off. welcome to the 20th century, where books actually exists, the internet exists, past records exist?

    By your line of argument, you couldn't even answer who the first president of the Philippine was, or if World War 2 really happened, since you weren't there.

    Basically, you were star-strucked to Marcos, judgment are impaired,

    Reading an article favoring him? Oh you mean the lies-ridden articles, that Bobong Marcos has been sponsoring to circulate in the social medias?

    Actually, what is sadder than a Pro-Marcos, is you who claims to have lived during his time and still support him. It would seem, that you are a product of Marcos' goal, which is the dumbing down of Filipinos. Marcos was the one who really fucked up the education in this country by enforcing the no repeater rule. A rule which heavily penalized a teacher if he has a student that fails and repeats. Even if said student did not attend class for 90% of the school year. So Teachers manipulated grades in order to make sure everyone passes, and you are the result, dumb, moron and an idiot.

    So what if he signed laws that supposedly emphasizes the importance of democracy to the life of a child and youth, that didn't stop him nor his allies from killing the student who questioned Imee Marcos about the human rights violation going on.

    First hand knowledge? My Dad lived during his Martial Law and was actually a Marcos supporter until he saw the truth. How's that for first hand knowledge, everything I write, He reads and agrees with. That's as good as your idiotic belief of how first hand knowledge is important.

    And just to add, his son, Bobong Marcos, already is following in his father's foot step. Getting implicated on the PDAF scam, And feigning ignorance, and as usual, blaming it on politics.

  5. All of the infrastructure that the "visionary" supposedly built -- like the CCP, PICC, Bataan Nuclear Plant, etc. -- were constructed through loans which we are probably still paying until today. Marcos cozied up to the World Bank, IMF, and the US government and pocketed a lot of the money. Read the books "The Marcos Dynasty" and "Waltzing with the Dictator" and "Some are Smarter than Others".

  6. Let me share a story of a 15 year old kid...

    He is the president of a 3rd Yr class. An model student, and an honor as well. He is praised for maintaining peace in the class. He managed to make deals with the Ganged Group of the school who happened to be in his class, not to cause any trouble during class hours for the sake of the class (an evident proof of democratic power). He also led the class to win inter class competitions. An "A+" rating over-all.

    You might be wondering what is this all about? This is the prerogative of the next story...

    As a common high school student, he was inclined to electronic games, specifically desktop computer games. Once he had trouble producing a fund for this vain of his. And the last resort he had is to take the class fund raised from the penalties of violators of orderliness policies. As the president, he had the power to withdraw the said fund, as he did. This went to the adviser's attention and caused an investigation. In conclusion, he was caught and was penalized,worst publicly criticized.

    As you read this story from the start to finish, what was your image and assessment of the kid.
    From the good side, you read the bad side of the kid. What if the first part of the story was made latter...From bad side, you read the good side. What side of the coin will you choose.

    Well, actually it doesn't matter which side you choose. What i actually want to imply here is simple. A 15 YEAR OLD KID knows how to corrupt funds!! A sad fact that corruption is ingrained to most Filipinos who once in their life made their own "KUPIT".

    No matter how many statistics you show. No matter how many testimonies you show to which ever side you support. It doesn't actually matters now. We can't find the perfect president. They all did what they thought the best. What we need now is initiative. Start fighting corruption in your household. And guide your children to be just, because one of them might be the one we were waiting to start the change. Our generation is almost hopeless. But it still not too late as long as we prepare the next generation. Stop arguing who's the best president thus far, cause all of them were all crap. And the next ones will be the same as long as there were no evident result of change.


    1. Very good reconciling argument. Need to see both sides of the coin..

    2. I would greatly agree with this post. I am a pro-Marcos though I had not lived in that era but we need to see results too for the argument. See two sides of the coin. And see what faces down the ground.

      Anyways, stopping corruption starts from us then as nation. Then we will see progress

    3. While it is hard to find a perfect president (for even people will argue about what a perfect president should do), it's absurd to say that the statistics and testimonies don't matter, because they do. How can you start change yourself when you can't even recognize the mistakes in the system, when you can't hold them accountable for what they did? How can you stop corruption if you think identifying the culprits doesn't matter? Accountability matters, especially in a country like ours. It's also true that we've have crappy presidents, but that doesn't mean everything that they did was wrong. Some did pretty decent things, it's just that on a net basis, they did more bad things than good ones. Not recognizing that makes us unable to see "both sides of a coin."

  7. Bravo, bravo! Well written and a beautiful model for your generation that yes, is losing sight of the horrific reality under Marcos. I was on the front lines of the revolution and we prayed for success or swift death when confronted by soldiers armed to the teeth.

  8. Thank you. Twenty years is equivalent to more than three presidential terms (4 if you count by the old standard). What's happening is all twenty years are being lumped into a carefully selected few years just after the declaration of martial law. All the previous and remaining years are being forced out of the national consciousness.

  9. I have been arguing with a lot of people on Facebook mostly on comment section of photos comparing Marcos' regime and the Aquinos'. My social science teacher taught me well about what really happened during Marcos' term, thank you very much for providing the information, that I am very sure are well-researched and accurate. Again, thank you. :)

  10. Pakisalin sa tagalog o pilipino po. Para di lang marunong sa ingles ang makabasa

    1. I agree, para mas malawak ang reach at mabasa/matuto ang mga botante

  11. Well done. Appreciate your effort to shed light on this important topic. You got it right. I like how you concluded your article. Change takes place in the heart of every Filipinos and not from government and politicians. Reminded me of theologian GK Chesterton when asked "What's Wrong with the World?" His famous brief response... "I am."
    Your article is worth the bookmark and share.

  12. Eloquently written. That's the true history. I will share this with everyone I know. Maraming salamat.

  13. I will most certainly share this on my facebook wall and let the truth be told..over and over..because people who tend to forget need to reminded..Madamo nga Salamat! I speak in behalf of my fellow Negrense who were once a victim of martial law and are still victims of his oligarch cronies...

  14. Thank you so much for writing this! I have been looking for a good rebuttal to all the BS I see online. Now let's start pushing the debate back on the right track.

  15. Hey, I am a victim of the Marcos greed, too.I have grown and spent my teenage life during is autocratic rule and could still remember the scarcity that prevailed in the country. There were no jobs for new graduates, no opportunities to change the deplorable life that we had and no access to medical attendance.
    We should not forget that in order to establish his Martial Law he created disorder and chaos
    in the country. He flattened Jolo by bombing the entire city from the seas. How about he Miranda bombing? And the countless student leaders who disappeared on the face of the earth? How about the assassination of Sen Benigno Aquino?
    Don't forget my dear countrymen. Don't forget that you suffered,too. Don't ever forget that until the present we are still all paying for his greed. How? would ask. All you have to do is look around you and compare your life with Koreans, Indonesians, Vietnamese and all the people in Asian who have overtaken us. Perhaps one or two of you have parents who are still working abroad as household helpers. It's a big insult because I'm pretty sure that most of them are college graduates.
    Think and don't forget.

  16. This article is informative and unbiased. Thanks for sharing !!!

  17. Very well written! I am a living witness myself to the atrocities committed and unconstitutional and illegal means employed by dictator Marcos (and his shameless cohorts) just to stay in power (e.g. rigging and making a mockery of the elections, referendum and plebiscite).

  18. Being half-Ilocano, I was once a die-hard Marcos follower, and I regretted every minute of it.

  19. Thank you! :-) your the best..

  20. Thank you for this post! I must say, it was enlightening though I wasn't really a Marcos fan to begin with. Stories about his great intellect were suspicious to me, to the point that I think he must be really smart, but not as smart as what fanatics seem to think of him.

    I came across a case where Marcos penned a letter of instruction (batas 'yun back then) where sugar farmers are supposed to pay a portion of their earnings to a certain bank (?) or institution. As it turned out, that institution is engaged in proprietary functions, meaning, it is a private entity and that it is having financial troubles. It turned out that the money paid by the farmers were being used to benefit a private entity to save its business. The owner of that company is a Marcos loyalist.

    In short, ginamit niya ang kaban ng bayan to further the agenda of his cronies. The farmers were abused. Naging malinaw sa akin why most people who lived in the Martial law era abhor him and I did too, after reading that case.

  21. Thank you so much for your post! I saw the comments made about Marcos having done good and that we should see two sides to a coin. I don't quite get that. as a president, Marcos was expected to have done gone for Filipinos - that's the job. I don't see why he should be given credit for that. To give credit where it is due, eto : I give him credit for corruption, for human rights violations, for abuse of power. I hope we mature enough to vote in place people who truly have our interest at heart; people who would lead us to truly thrive as a nation, helping us to enjoy not just what is basic and due us. Kelan kaya yun?

  22. You've put it in one of the most perfect ways!
    Ang dami kasi sa'ting uneducated tungkol sa Marcos regime kaya bira na lang ng bira. At tulad nga ng binaggit mo, good sir, wala ng choice and iilan sa'ting mga Pinoy kundi tumingin na lang dun sa tinatawag nilang "magandang pamamalakad" ni Marcos.

  23. Excellent piece. And only those who really do not wish to see ... well ... will not see.

  24. Just what I've been looking for! Thank you

  25. ..too sad for the country..they keep on idolizing an evil man.. Pro-marcoses believed that marcoses never used any cents from the govt..They are already rich before they enter to politics..hayzzt

  26. ..too sad for the country..they keep on idolizing an evil man.. Pro-marcoses believed that marcoses never used any cents from the govt..They are already rich before they enter to politics..hayzzt

  27. Marcoses will not accept this..same with their supporters. They are blinded.

  28. Too many words. We all know they can only understand videos and memes


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