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Who is Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the supposed president of the Philippines?

The two decades in which Ferdinand Marcos Sr. ruled the Philippines unfolded in dramatic fashion, warned of his propaganda-fueled rise to power in the 1960s and the night-time escape from the country in the 1980s after a peaceful uprising toppled his power.

If Marcos’s name was once slandered among the many Filipinos who linked it to nepotism, rights abuses, excess wealth and shoes—Marcos’ wife, Imelda, owns a notorious shoe collection—the political dynasty appears to have regained the highest position in the Southeast Asian nation, an ancient ally of the states United.

Ferdinand “Bong Pong” Marcos Jr., the second child of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, is considered the presumptive winner of the Philippine presidential election, which US President Joe Biden called to congratulate him on Thursday. He defeated nine other opponents by a wide margin in an election that experts say was marred by misinformation spread on social media.

Unofficial results from Monday’s election showed Marcos Jr., 64, garnered more than 31 million votes, twice the votes of his closest challenger, current Vice President Leni Robredo, with other candidates behind, including retired boxing champ Manny Pacquiao.

“To the world: judge me not by my ancestors, but by my actions,” Marcus Jr. said upon declaring victory, according to a statement from his spokesman.

But historians say any analysis of the future of the Philippines with Marcos’ descendant at its head would seem hollow without looking back.

What is the legacy of Ferdinand Marcos?

Marcus Jr. was 8 years old when his father was elected president in 1965.

The senior attorney, Marcos, made use of his military service during World War II to rise to the political echelons of the country. While running for office, he enjoyed his stories as a self-proclaimed war hero, although US government files would later deny the account that he led a guerrilla force against the Japanese.

Nevertheless, Marcos gained popularity among Filipinos with his populist agenda. Ronald Reagan, as governor of California, forged an alliance with Marcos that extended into his presidency. He and First Lady Nancy Reagan considered Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos friends, considering the Philippines as a rare democracy in Southeast Asia.

But from 1972 to 1981, Marcos also controlled the Philippines through martial law, which he declared necessary in order to combat perceived threats to the country from communists and Muslim separatists. During that time, dissidents, political opponents and . were imprisoned They described being tortured and sexually assaulted by soldiers.

Then, in 1983, the assassination of Marcos’ main political rival, Benigno Aquino Jr., caused the United States to distance itself from the Marcos regime. (Military personnel loyal to Marcos would later be found guilty of Aquino’s death.)

Three years later, Aquino’s widow, Corazon Aquino, challenges Marcos for president in an election marred by fraud. When Marcos’ victory was announced, protesters filled the streets of the capital, Manila, for several days in what is known as the People’s Power Revolution. Army officers defected to support Aquino, who was sworn in on February 25, 1986. That night, at Reagan’s request, Marcos surrendered to Aquino and fled with his family to Hawaii.

What happened to Marcos’ family after he was deposed?

The end of Marcos’ reign was just the beginning of family troubles.

When the Marcos and their entourage fled the Philippines, it was with a staggering stock of wealth, The Los Angeles Times reported 1986: $7.7 million in cash and $4 million in precious stones and jewelry, including a gold tiara and three diamonds.

But that was only a fraction of what they collected, and in the following decades, Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos were subjected to criminal and civil fraud charges in the United States and accusations by the Philippine government that the couple stole billions of dollars from their motherland, stash millions in bank accounts in Switzerland and Hong Kong, and attempted to benefit from Secret investments in real estate in New York.

Imelda Marcos and Marcos Jr. still face $353 million in contempt in the United States in a class action lawsuit over Marcos’ greater rights violations, and Marcos family members are also defendants in at least 40 lawsuits related to their fortune, Reuters reported This month. They have long maintained their innocence.

Ferdinand Marcos died in Honolulu in 1989 at the age of 72. Two years later, Imelda Marcos was allowed to return to the Philippines, where she ran for president twice unsuccessfully before winning a seat in the country’s Congress four times, most recently in 2016.

This week, Marcus, 92, is wearing all red and holding a rosary cast a vote for her son in the presidential election.

How did Marcus Jr. become the first presidential candidate?

Marcus Jr. has followed in his father’s footsteps by holding a variety of public positions, including governor and congressman.

Lilly Ann Villaraza, head of Filipino Studies at City College in San Francisco, said his presidential hopes benefited from name recognition, family and regional loyalties, as well as a deep campaign that promoted a form of “revisionist history.”

Social media platforms such as Facebook and TikTok, where many Filipinos consume their information, have been flooded with content describing martial law and life under Marcos the Elder as a “golden age”.

“This directly benefited a lot of people’s understanding of martial law during his father’s reign – and presented that history in a positive light,” Villaraza said. More than half of the country’s population was born after 1986, and therefore has no personal memory of martial law or the factors that catalyzed Marcos’ downfall. The politician is personal in the Philippines and vice versa; There was no tangible connection to that time period, coupled with a lack of learning about martial law in the school curriculum, which created a gap waiting to be filled with the highest views.”

Marcos also got a boost from his alliance with Sarah Duterte Carpio, daughter of President Rodrigo Duterte, who won the vice presidential election by a landslide after she chose not to run for president.

What did Marcus Jr. do?

His image carried him as a champion of the poor – about a fifth of Filipinos live in abject poverty. Villaraza said his pledge to improve roads, greater internet access, lower utility and food costs, and a desire to unite the Philippines appear to be swaying voters.

Celebrity glamor also didn’t hurt. “If you mention ‘Marcos’ anywhere in the world, through thick and thin, there is at least some vague knowledge – perhaps about shoes,” Villaraza said. “And the desire to get close to this celebrity is real.”

There wasn’t much people could distinguish during the campaign, said Vicente Rafael, author of Sovereign Trickster: Death and Laughter in the Age of Duterte and Professor of Southeast Asian History at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Marcos Jr., along with Duterte Carpio, refused to give interviews to international media or participate in discussions.

“They locked themselves in this very strange bubble where only their supporters could hear what they were going to say, which was nothing,” Raphael said. “They were very empty signals to unite the country.”

What does this mean for US-Philippines relations?

The relationship between Washington and Manila has been strained by accusations of extrajudicial killings and human rights abuses as part of President Duterte’s anti-drug campaign, although former President Donald Trump has emphasized the relationship remains “great”.

After Marcus Jr studied internationally – he enrolled in programs at Oxford University in England and The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, but did not finish either, According to Reuters – Rafael said he is likely to take a softer stance with the United States and other Western allies.

But the main question remains whether Marcos Jr. will continue the many policies under Duterte, a close ally and potentially satisfying Chinese leader Xi Jinping amid territorial disputes between the two countries in the South China Sea.

Despite billions of dollars in Chinese investment in the Philippines, the country still relies on the United States as its main supporter, with the US military being a major source of arms and training.

“Marcos will have to tread very carefully with regard to links with the United States,” Rafael said.

Xi and Biden were among the first world leaders to congratulate Marcos Jr. on his apparent election victory, indicating that the two rivals view the Philippines as a pivotal hub in the strategically important Indo-Pacific region.

Whatever the future holds, said Rafael, this is crystal clear: Marcus Jr. has been able to apply his father’s “propaganda toolkit” to broaden the political highs and orchestrate a comeback for his family that would have seemed so unexpected 36 years ago.

“If you look at the way he made his campaign, they were very good at playing the long game,” Rafael said.

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