Martial Law was declared 36 years ago to much pomp, circumstance and whereas-ing of things.
It took many deaths and fourteen years before the administration that brought us Martial Law was finally run out of the country. And we learned our lesson in those long, dark Marcos years. So much so that with our never-agains and our Ninoy shirts, any and all attempts to introduce discipline on Philippine society is immediately killed at the mere comparison to Martial Law. A proposed dress code triggered an uprising at the Ateneo de Manila University, for example. A No-ID,No-Entry policy at the University of the Philippines was likened to hamletting in the provinces, etcetera.)
Filipinos took the lessons of the Marcos years and focused on protecting their rights to free speech, free thought, and to do whatever the fuck they want because they have rights. Their right to a just and equitable society under a just and equitable government, however, was just too complex to turn into a slogan and fight for.
For their complicity in a corrupt and despotic regime,Â any other country would have tarred and feathered these politicians. But the Philippines is a lot like Soviet Russia in the sense that in the Philippines, justice has you.Â Also, the Philippines is poor.
Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco, Jr.
What He Did: Boss Danding was a key Marcos crony, and bought out the ownership of San Miguel Corporation with funds collected from coconut farmers to, you know, better their lives with things like irrigation, farm-to-market roads and fertilizer. Cojuangco, being a long-view kind of guy decided it would be better to invest in a food monopoly that would some day benefit farmers by not doing so at all.
Cojuangco was thought to be a suspect in the assasination of Beningo “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr., figurehead of the political opposition and his cousin’s husband. When the Filipino people decided that shit like that just wasn’t cool anymore, Cojuangco hopped the same plane as Marcos did, and declared himself an exile.
Where Is He Now? Like bad VD, Danding came back in 1989,and regained control of San Miguel Corporation, and with it, pretty much the entire Philippine food market. In recent years, San Miguel decided that they had done as much as they could in the food industry, and would diversify their interests into shipping, real estate and the Philippine Islands.
He ran for president in 1992 and lost, but his Nationalist People’s Coalition vice-presidential candidate Joseph Ejercito Estrada won, so that wasn’t so bad. As of today, the NPC, of which Cojuangco is chairman emeritus, has two seats on the Senate of the Philippines, Francis Escudero and Loren Legarda. Plus, he owns everything.
Juan Ponce Enrile
What He Did: Juan Ponce Enrile was Defense Minister during the Marcos years, and it was a failed ambush attempt on him that set the wheels of Martial Law in motion. Never mind that he staged the ambush himself, that’s just stuff for paranoiacs,Â conspiracy theorists and academic historians, he stood against the Godless Communists and defended our country from anarchy.
Under his leadership,Â Philippine troops blocked an arms shipment from China and sank the M/V Karagatan before the communists could offload the cargo. His guys also nipped communism in the bud by causing the villages of Escalante and Lubao to not exist.
When the political opposition was gaining public support, Enrile switched sides and broke with Marcos. He and General Fidel Valdez Ramos holed up in Camps Crame and Aguinaldo until thousands of protesters came to save their asses and declared them heroes of the revolution they tried to suppress over the past, oh, two decades.
Where Is He Now? Despite being one of the architects of Martial Law, Enrile became President Corazon Aquino’s defense minister, and was elected to the Senate shortly after that. He has been in Philippine politics since then, and is currently a sitting Senator.
That he has been in power for so long shows that Enrile is a smooth operator, much perhaps in the same way that Lucky Manzano is with chicks.Â That he’s pretty much won almost every election he has run in shows that maybe Filipinos shouldn’t be allowed to vote.
Fidel Valdez Ramos
What He Did: Under Marcos, Ramos was top cop of the Philippine Constabulary and was a member of Marcos’ inner circle, the Rolex 12.
Those midnight visits from the MetroCom your parents dreaded back in the day? Ramos was behind them, as he was probably behind the daily violent dispersals of activists with truncheons, water cannons and guns. Also, scores of deaths and disappearances.
In 1986, with the support of the Catholic Church and thousands of protesters, Ramos performed the historic Hands-Up Jump that brought the Marcos regime down and sent the Conjugal Dictators fleeing to Hawaii.
Where Is He Now? As a reward for this truly astonishing physical feat, he became Aquino’s military Chief-of-Staff, defense secretary, and later, her anointed successor.
While president, Ramos solved the energy crisis by throwing money at power producers and promising to buy their electricity whether we needed it or not. Ramos also gave our country the overpriced P9-billion Centennial Expo Pilipino in Clark, Pampanga, which, more than a decade later, someone has yet to find a use for.Â Ramos was also allegedly involved in the PEA-Amari deal that raised billions to build a new city on Manila Bay and then was never heard of again.
Nevertheless, he’s one of the country’s elder statesmen, and his opinion is often sought on national issues. Just not the ones that he was involved in.
Irked, the Marcoses pulled out police protection for the boys, had them roughed up all the way to airport, forced them to give back all their ticket sales, and forever put the country on the Beatles’ shit list. And that’s just one of the more amusing stories about the Steel Butterfly, Imelda Marcos.
If creating enough negative rock karma to turn us into the prime destination for washed-out musicians wasn’t enough, she also fast-tracked the completion of the Manila Film Center over the dead bodies of construction workers after the building collapsed on them.
As the country’s mother figure, Imelda showed her love for us with five-million-dollar shopping tours in New York, Rome and Copenhagen in 1983, and by sending a plane to pick up Australian white sand for a new beach resort. With her thousands of pairs of shoes, her ostentatious lifestyle and her lack of touch with reality, Imelda gave Filipinos a goal to aspire for. Mainly, a country without her, and a steady grip on sanity.
She fled the country with her husband in 1986Â leaving behind 15 mink coats, 508 gowns, 888 handbags, 1060 pairs of shoes and millions of angry citizens.
Where is She Now? She returned to the country in 1991 and has regained her position as the slightly-kooky queen of Philippine high society.
Featured in an eponymous 2003 documentary, Imelda has become sort of an ironic, tongue-in-cheek, hipster cultural icon, and was instrumental in creating a society that allowed the birth and rise of the Gucci Gang.
She has a coven of rabidly loyal old ladies who gather in Luneta weekly and pretend that indulging their senility is a legitimate political exercise.
She has since regained most of the property she left in 1986. Her son is a governor, her daughter and a nephew are members ofÂ Congress, and she is the singular most damning argument against the existence of a just and righteous God.