Philippines Table of Contents
Marcos claimed that martial law was the prelude to creating a "New Society" based on new social and political values. He argued that certain aspects of personal behavior, attributed to a colonial mentality, were obstacles to effective modernization. These included the primacy of personal connections, as reflected in the ethic of utang na loob, and the importance of maintaining in-group harmony and coherence, even at the cost to the national community. A new spirit of self-sacrifice for the national welfare was necessary if the country were to equal the accomplishments of its Asian neighbors, such as Taiwan and the Republic of Korea (South Korea). Despite Marcos's often perceptive criticisms of the old society, Marcos, his wife, and a small circle of close associates, the crony (see Glossary) group, now felt free to practice corruption on an awe-inspiring scale.
Political, economic, and social policies were designed to neutralize Marcos's rivals within the elite. The old political system, with its parties, rough-and-tumble election campaigns, and a press so uninhibited in its vituperative and libelous nature that it was called "the freest in the world," had been boss-ridden and dominated by the elite since early American colonial days, if not before. The elite, however, composed of local political dynasties, had never been a homogeneous group. Its feuds and tensions, fueled as often by assaults on amor proprio (self-esteem) as by disagreement on ideology or issues, made for a pluralistic system.
Marcos's self-proclaimed "revolution from the top" deprived significant portions of the old elite of power and patronage. For example, the powerful Lopez family, who had fallen out of Marcos's favor (Fernando Lopez had served as Marcos's first vice president), was stripped of most of its political and economic assets. Although always influential, during the martial law years, Imelda Marcos built her own power base, with her husband's support. Concurrently the governor of Metro Manila (see Glossary) and minister of human settlements (a post created for her), she exercised significant powers.
Data as of June 1991