Beautiful Cebu

Cebu is not the same colonial province time has forgotten decades ago. It is not a periphery to the center but rather, a destination with its own unique charm. Discover for yourself. See new destinations in the Cebu mainland. Read on...

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Ferdinand Marcos and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo redux

If  Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos has his way, he will be the country's next president. If he wins his electoral protest, President Duterte would be willing to hand him the presidency by retiring early, not finishing his term. He said so himself. But the problem with this scheme is, not everyone in Pres. Duterte's circle seem okay to a Marcos Presidency. Much of Duterte's support also hinges on the machinery of Lakas and Former Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. This was nowhere more clear in the intramurals in congress during Pres. Duterte's SONA. The president's backers are split in the middle.

It's likely loyalty to Digong may not translate automatically into a support for Bongbong Marcos. Those supporting Gloria are not known to warm towards Bongbong.

But before any talks of an administration-led succession, there is the legitimate successor in the person of VP Leni Robredo. Sans a victory in Marcos' electoral protest, the administration has to live with a Leni succession in the event the president is unable to do his functions in office. It  is interesting to know what are they going to do in such a situation where the vice president who is first in line to  succession is with the opposition. It's precisely the kind of situation the American Constitution wanted to avoid.

With the economy down and people reeling from high prices of commodities, expect more social unrest. Next year's election is seeing an emboldened opposition, and the rise of Gloria Arroyo as the country's 3rd in line to succession in the event Duterte retires early. She is supported by no less than the president's daughter, Sara Duterte and other top women politician in the country today.

Letting Duterte stay in office is to the best interest of Gloria and her party. She and her supporters are taking a more active role in Duterte's administration, seeing to it he finishes his term. Her party mates and allies are more competent compared to other Duterte supporters,

Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on the other hand, is mainly interested in taking over as president.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Cebu in the Time of Marcos

Excerpts from The Economic History of Cebu City written by the author

BY JUN VELEZ | Blogger

In Cebu, Marcos' actions reverberated. Home to his last presidential foe and opposition leader Serging  Osmeña, Marcos went after the  Osmeña family.  He threw into prison Serging's son and namesake, Sergio “Serge”  Osmeña III and filed trumped up charges against him. His father Serging, symbol of opposition and defiance to Marcos who was injured in the bombing of an opposition meting de avance in Manila  had left for the United States to seek medical treatment. Like his father, Sergio  Osmeña in World War 2, Serging as a national figure was witness to violence and human frailty at the twilight of his political career.

Although  Osmeña allies, governor Osmundo Rama and Cebu City mayor Eulogio Borres retained their positions after expressing allegiance to Marcos.  He was replaced by Marcos-appointed mayors: Florentino Solon in 1978 and Ronald Duterte in 1983.

Marcos seized  Osmeña's braichild, the North Reclamation Project and left it undeveloped for years during his reign.

Loans to fund development

With the country under his total control and to justify his totalitarian rule, Marcos promised to improve the country's economy. In order to fund his development projects, Marcos borrowed heavily from foreign banks and lending institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Marcos' policies seemed to have worked at first. The Philippine Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew from P55 Billion ($7.7 billion) in 1972 to P193 Billion ($27 Billion) in 1980. The growth however was financed largely by economic aid from the United States and foreign loans made by the Marcos government. The country's foreign debt increased by $27 Billion during Marcos' stay in office. In 1983, the Philippines would default in the payment of these loans sending the peso into a free fall.
Cebu asserts independence

Just as in the past, Cebu businessmen didn't depend on the national government, on the fate or direction of their enterprises. With an economy tied with the world market for centuries, Cebuanos looked beyond the political turmoil of the country and looked for opportunities abroad. But unlike in colonial times, Cebu City's industries have diversified. Both local and foreign markets have been tapped in the creation of wealth by many Cebu City residents.

By the 1970s, the center of Cebu City's commercial activity had shifted from Magallanes St. to Colon St. After fire burned the iconic Dona Modesta Singson Gaisano's White Gold House, her children opened several Gaisano stores along Cebu's oldest street, Colon in the old Parian district. Other department stores followed Like Fairmart, Plaza Fair and Gaw.

There were also department stores in other parts of the city especially in the area close to the Fuente  Osmeña Circle, considered as the city's uptown district. In 1985, John Gokongwei opened Robinson's Department Store right in front of the Fuente  Osmeña Circle. Along the same street in Gen. Maxilom Ave. were Rustan's Department Store and  Gaw Fashion Square. In the North Reclamation Project was where the Gaisanos rebuilt White Gold Department Store. Named after the original White Gold in Juan Luna Street, it catered to the upscale market .

But it wasn't in retail  that Cebu made its mark  as a post-frontier economy. Cebu-made furnitures found their way to the world market. Pioneered by a scion of the Aboitiz clan, Maria Aboitiz of Mehitabel and an American, John McGuire in the 1950s, the furniture industry boomed in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It served as a silver lining in an era characterized by political turmoil  and bleak financial future for many. As in the 19th century when trade with foreign markets uplifted the lives of Mestizos, furniture export from the port of Cebu in the 1980s made Cebuanos engaged in the business wealthy. At a time when foreign aid and loans sustained Philippine economy, Cebuano furniture-makers were bringing into the country precious dollars that helped boost the country's foreign reserves.

While in the media, both foreign and national, a gloomy picture of the Philippines was often depicted, in Cebu, Cebuano furniture manufacturers raked in thousands of dollars from export of furniture, proving once again the dynamism and resilience of Cebu's economy and the innovativeness and initiative of Cebuaos. While the rest of the country was in dire economic and political strain, Cebu rattan furniture manufacturers helped Cebuanos cope with the crisis.

Serging's transfer of the airport, the expansion of the Cebu port facility with the Cebu International Port (CIP) and the construction of the Mandaue- Mactan Bridge led to the development of  metropolitan Cebu especially the cities of Mandaue and Lapulapu. As a matter of fact, Mandaue City today is home to 68% of funiture manufacturers. Cebu City is second with 28%.

End for Marcos

Questions of legitimacy hounded Marcos. Ruling without a mandate from the people, Marcos was forced to call for a snap election in 1986, almost three years after the  death of Ninoy Aquino. In an unprecedented development, Ninoy's widow, Corazon Aquino challenged Marcos and ran as president. The contrast was stunning but it was lost on Marcos, already isolated and out of touch with the course the nation had taken. Marcos, an aging and sickly dictator with a face bloated from complications of a failed kidney transplant,  was a shadow of his former self. Cory, a woman, grieving widow, loving wife and mother and a well-educated member of old elite class posed serious threat to Marcos' autocratic rule. Cory's presence alone was a refreshing breeze in the dreary, blood-tainted national politics.

The United States, however, supported Marcos until it was no longer tenable to do so. The mistake almost sidelined America in one of the defining events of the 20th century: the 1986 Edsa Revolution. In a scene  reminiscent of the American defeat in Vietnam, America was forced to airlift Marcos as thousands of people stormed Malacanang. Palace.

Marcos' Revolution from the Center

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