Ferdinand Marcos and the Philippines: The Political Economy of Authoritarianism

By Albert F. Celoza | Go to book overview

Chapter 2

A Nation Divided

Divide et impera: Divide and conquer. The Philippines stands as [a nation divided
against itself: divided between urban and rural, rich and poor, majorities and
minorities, privileged and underprivileged.]

—Ferdinand E. Marcos

Divided by natural barriers, mountains and bodies of water, diverse languages and dialects, and ethnic cultures, the group of islands located on the Pacific rim of Asia were easily conquered by the colonial powers. The strategic location of the Philippines, as well as the area's rich natural resources, has attracted world powers since the sixteenth century. General Arthur MacArthur, father of Douglas MacArthur and military governor-general of the Philippines, described the unique strategic potential of the Philippines as [the finest group of islands in the world,] whose [strategic location is unexcelled by that of any position in the globe.]1

The Philippine archipelago is composed of some 7,100 islands spread over approximately 496,400 square nautical miles. It has a total land area of 300,000 square kilometers with one of the world's longest coastlines.2 Most settlements are found in coastal areas, the rest in the mountains, creating a dichotomy between lowlanders and uplanders (taga-bundok). Sociocultural changes took place more rapidly in coastal areas than in the mountains. Those changes set the lowland Filipinos apart from their mountain-dweller kin and produced another dichotomy: the majority and the minority.3 The majority was more exposed to Western and Christian influences, whereas the minority [maintained the greatest links with their indigenous cultural heritage and … least accepted the colonial structures imposed by the Spanish. [4 Other factors contributed to the differences between the city and the countryside. The countryside (probinsya) depended on farming and fishing, whereas the cities controlled the industries and business. Manila, the principal city and capital of the Philippines, is the political, economic, and cultural center of the country. Each year hordes of migrants from the provinces flock to the city. The city's glittering lights, its apparent promise of opportunity, and the harsh conditions of the provinces encouraged migration.

Enclaves for the rich and the poor are strewn throughout the crowded and polluted city, In one study an estimated 1.8 million people, or 30% of Manila's residents, live in slums.5 According to a study by the West German government,

-7-

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Ferdinand Marcos and the Philippines: The Political Economy of Authoritarianism
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents iii
  • Acknowledgments v
  • Chapter 1 - Introduction 1
  • Chapter 2 - A Nation Divided 7
  • Chapter 3 - Martial Law and Regime Legitimation 39
  • Chapter 4 - A Complete Government Takeover 73
  • Chapter 5 - The Authoritarian Regime's Network of Support 95
  • Chapter 6 - Decline and Fall of the Dictatorship 125
  • Epilogue - The Philippines, 1986–1996 133
  • Selected Bibliography 135
  • Index 139
  • About the Author 145
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