Ferdinand Marcos and the Philippines: The Political Economy of Authoritarianism

By Albert F. Celoza | Go to book overview

34% to 40% of the population of Manila are squatters.6 Poverty pervades the areas where houses are usually made of cardboard and scrap materials. Some dwellings are even constructed over stagnant water. According to a World Bank report, [The 1977 urban poverty income estimated for the Philippines was P1,877 ($250) per person per year. Thirty-nine percent of families in slums of major cities have per capita income below that sum. In metropolitan Manila, 35 percent of the population, or about 2.1 million people, live below the poverty level; they account for 30 percent of the urban poor in the Philippines.]7 No one can escape the contrast between the hovels by railroad tracks and muddy canals and the big houses secured by high walls and guarded by dogs and armed security guards.

Another important dichotomy among Filipinos is the shade of their skins: mestizo or non-mestizo. Mestizos are individuals of mixed parentage—Filipino mixed with either Chinese, Spanish, or American. Usually of fairer complexion, mestizos are prevalent among the wealthier classes.

There are at least eight (lowland) ethnolinguistic groups and an array of other dialect subgroups. Manila is the capital and the center of the Tagalog region, so speakers are perceived as culturally superior by others as well as by themselves. The speakers of Cebuanos are the most numerous native speakers, but most Filipinos are at least familiar with Tagalog, the language of the capital city.

Within ethnolinguistic groups, one finds variations that cause subtle if not obvious ethnocentric biases; for example, Tagalog is spoken by most inhabitants of central and southern Luzon, but one finds differences in accent, vocabulary, and some traditions in each town or municipality. One can see these differences even in towns separated by only a few miles. Stereotypes within and among ethnic groups develop. Members of the same ethnic groups tend to cluster in Manila's universities, in some urban settlements, and in neighborhoods and civic organizations.

Despite their ethnic diversity, most Filipinos conform to a single religion. The Philippines is a predominandy Roman Catholic country; most Filipinos are baptized Catholics. Some 85% profess Cadiolicism, 5% are Muslims, and the remaining 10% are composed of various religions, including other Christian denominations such as the Philippine Independent Church, Iglesia ni Kristo (Church of Christ), the Methodist church, and other Protestant groups.8 Though Christianity and Islam have been in the Philippines for more than 300 years, folk religions or animistic beliefs such as spiritism are still practiced. Filipinos [filipinized] Christianity and Islam and blended them with their indigenous rituals and practices.9 In towns where were founded [new] churches, such as the Philippine Independent Church, conflicts arose. Religious differences among inhabitants carried over into other facets of life, such as civic projects, fiestas, and other celebrations, and politics.

Comprising only 5% of the population, Muslim Filipinos are insignificant in number, but they exert a considerable force in Philippine society.10 Spanish colonizers were unable to subjugate them completely. The Muslims waged such fierce battles against the Americans that the garrand automatic rifle had to be invented to put down juramentados (those running amok). The relationship of the Muslims with the central government in Manila has not been uniformly cordial either. Concentrated mostly in Southern Mindanao and Sulu, Muslims live far from

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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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