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Journey of the Barong Tagalog, 20th Century Philippines, Part 15: President Ferdinand Marcos

Ferdinand Emmanuel Edralin Marcos, Sr. was a Filipino lawyer, soldier, politician and kleptocrat. He is one of the most controversial leaders of the 20th century, and his career in public service was rife with dishonesty, corruption, extravagance and brutality.

After completing his juris doctor at the University of the Philippines College of Law and successfully sitting for the Philippine Bar Examinations in 1939, Marcos served in the US Armed Forces in the Philippines during World War II from 1941 to 1945. Numerous claims he made about his military service were the subject of debate and were ultimately proven to be false or inaccurate. After WWII, Marcos was a special prosecutor, with the office of the Solicitor General, that tried accused enemy collaborators.

From 1949 to 1959, Marcos was elected for and served three terms as congressional representative of the 2nd district of Ilocos Norte. From 1959 to 1965, he served as a senator, becoming the senate minority floor leader in 1960 and then senate president from 1963 to 1965. Marcos then ran for president in 1965 and won becoming the 10th president of the Philippines. He served two (2) four-year terms.

In 1972, Marcos declared martial law on the entire country which extended his presidency beyond term limits and began a fourteen year dictatorial rule until he was ousted by the People Power Revolution. Marcos was exiled from the Philippines on February 25, 1986. During his presidency, the country suffered from extreme poverty and a crushing debt crisis. Marcos managed to revise the constitution, silence the media, imprison, kill and torture his opponents, rig elections and steal about $5 to $10 billion from the Filipino people.

Marcos did wear the Barong Tagalog quite often during his political career. He wore them to inaugurations and to many official functions as president. In 1975, Marcos declared by decree that June 5 to 11 would be designated as Barong Tagalog Week, and the Barong Tagalog would be designated the “national attire” of the Philippines.

Marcos sits at the presidential desk at Malacañang Palace in his Barong Tagalog.

Marcos sits at the presidential desk at Malacañang Palace in his Barong Tagalog. This image is likely from the mid to late 1960’s.

Marcos addresses the audience in his jusi (silk) Barong Tagalog probably in the mid to late 1960’s.

Marcos addresses the audience in his jusi (silk) Barong Tagalog probably in the mid to late 1960’s.

Marcos is sworn in at his second presidential inauguration on December 30, 1969. He wears a piña Barong Tagalog with all over embroidery.

Marcos is sworn in at his second presidential inauguration on December 30, 1969. He wears a piña Barong Tagalog with all over embroidery.

Marcos at his second presidential inauguration on December 30, 1969. He wears a piña barong and stands with his wife, Imelda, and three of his children.

Marcos flashes the peace sign to the audience at his second presidential inauguration on December 30, 1969. He wears a piña barong and stands with his wife, Imelda, and three of his children.

Marcos in a barong stands on a limousine with US President Richard Nixon during his 1969 visit to the Philippines.

Marcos stands on a limousine, amongst crowds of Filipino citizens, with US President Richard Nixon during his 1969 visit to the Philippines. Marcos wears a Barong Tagalog.

Marcos in a barong with First Lady Imelda walk with US President Ronald Reagan just outside the Oval Office

Marcos and First Lady Imelda walk with US President Ronald Reagan just outside the Oval Office during a state visit on September 16, 1982. Marcos wears a full button down, slim cut Barong Tagalog with covered buttons and a mandarin collar.