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Philippines Essay, Research Paper

The movement led by Cory against the dictatorial rule resulted in the “People Power Revolution” that overthrew the Marcos government in February 1986. Once in power, Cory ordered all political prisoners freed and built the machinery for democracy. Cory ordered the dismantling of monopolies controlled by the cronies of President Marcos. The economy showed signs of recovery but a series of political struggles and natural calamities that ensued threatened the gains made by her administration. Her presidency survived seven military revolts, typhoons, drought, energy crisis, a major earthquake and a volcanic eruption.

President Marcus was an excellent leader. He was the first president of the Philippines to be re-elected for a second term. Faced with increasing civil trouble from Communist and Muslim rebellions, he suspended the constitution in 1972, declared martial law, and ruled the country as a dictator. In 1986, as all the global village looked on, history turned into a clash of symbols in the Republic of the Philippines, a nation long relegated to its dustier corridors. Two veteran rulers, President Ferdinand Marcos and his wife Imelda, stumbled and fell in their ruthless campaign to extend, with an immodesty broader than a scriptwriter’s fancy, their stolen empire. During the final years of his dictatorship, Marcos had effectively moved his country backward, from democracy to autocracy, from prosperity to poverty, and from general peace to a widespread Communist insurgency. They treated the national treasury as if it were their own personal checking account, spending about 5 billion dollars of the countries money. Imelda Marcos, who is known for having the thousands of pairs of shoes, stated “We live in a paradise. There are no poor people as there are in other countries.” Even as she spoke, seven in every ten Filipinos were living below the poverty level. Marcos was a very confident man. He hoped to satisfy the Reagan Administration’s demands that he become more democratic.

President Marcos s plans for victory were upset by a housewife who entered politics only two months earlier. Her husband, Benigno Aquino, was Marcos s chief rival who was slain on his return from exile in 1983. On the campaign trail, it soon became clear that Aquino’s main asset was herself. Turning her appearances into what became improvised prayer rallies, the small figure in yellow stood before crowdsand delivered heartfelt parables about her life under Marcos. Wherever she spoke, tens of thousands of worshipers came together in a sea of yellow, flashing the L sign of LABAN, and striking up chants of “Co-ry! Co-ry! Co-ry!” By voting day, Aquino had become a powerful political presence.

During the presidential election, Marcos had his men rip up ballots and they intimidated voters at gunpoint. About three million names were just taken off the voter list. Suddenly thousands of volunteer poll watchers, singing hymns and burning candles, formed a human barricade against the armed goons and carried their ballot boxes through the streets to counting stations. Thirty of the government’s vote tabulators walked out in protest against the fraud. The country’s Catholic bishops publicly condemned the election, and the U.S. Senate echoed the protest. Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile, the architect of Marcos’ martial law, and Lieutenant General Fidel Ramos, the deputy chief of the armed forces, broke away from the government, claiming that Aquino was the true winner.

As the rebels barricaded themselves inside two military camps, tens of thousands of common citizens poured into the streets to offer food, support and protection to the maverick soldiers and Aquino backers. Civilians, bearing only flags and flowers, took up positions to defend the military men. The world then knew that it was watching more than just an electoral disturbance. Marcos’s tanks rolled toward the crowds, only to be stopped by nuns kneeling in their path, saying the rosary. Old women went up to gun-toting marines and disarmed them with motherly hugs. Little girls offered their flowers to hardened combat veterans. In the face of such quiet heroism, thousands of Marcos loyalists simply broke down in tears.

Enrile and Ramos staged their revolt in Manila, Cory, 350 miles away in Cebu, at first lay low in a Carmelite monastery. But as the revolution continued, she hurried back to Manila, ready to take charge. Only eight hours after the election, in the face of widespread cheating by Marcos forces, she seized the initiative by declaring herself the winner. She would accept nothing less than Marcos’ removal from office. She told the supporters of Marcos, “Do not threaten Cory Aquino, because I am not alone . The day after her victory, Aquino found herself in charge of one of the world’s most desperate countries, burdened with a foreign debt of $27 billion. Soon enough the new leader’s innocence and inexperience showed. She instantly dissolved parliament, ruled by decree, and had all the country’s governors and mayors, regardless of performance, replaced with sometimes unqualified people of her own. She then switched to the other extreme, often indecisive over critical decisions. As the year wore on, Cory the Chief Executive and the Commander in Chief, gradually began to prove as surprising as Cory the Symbol. She fired Enrile, the man who had helped put her in power. Four days later, she concluded the first cease-fire in the 17 years of the Communist insurgency.

At year’s end, as the Philippines prepared for a nation-wide plebiscite in February on a new constitution, Aquino remained decidedly stressed. To come to power, Aquino had only to be herself, a symbol of sincerity and honesty. To stay in power, she had to transcend herself. After ten months in office, it was not just her softness that impressed, but the unexpected toughness that underwrote it. Aquino moved people, in both senses of the word, by making serenity strong and strength serene.

In 1992, Cory finished her term and Fidel Ramos, her chosen successor, took over the reins of government. Back in private life, Cory kept herself busy by giving speeches and receiving awards in Hong Kong, Seville, Paris, London, Boston, New York and Washington. She became an active goodwill ambassador and a vocal advocate of human rights and women’s issues.

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