The Tragedy of Marcos and Richard III

The anniversary of Martial Law has come and gone. Many people actually believed that it was declared September 21 … It was actually September 23 – Marcos’ belief in the power of numbers; his powers; and resources he used made it September 21. And even up to 2013 Marcos casts a long shadow on the Philippines. His family is still in power, holding political power in Ilocos and Leyte; and his son a Ferdinand Jr or Bong Bong a Senator of the Republic – post Marcos the Elder occupied before becoming the President defeating Diosdado Macapagal, the father of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. And to a certain extent the country is still divided on Marcos.

In several essays he has often been compared to his fellow leaders – like Lee Kwan Yue, Suharto and Mahathir. Fine as this comparisons maybe for me it is not as interesting a comparison as comparing Marcos with an English King, who up to this day is surrounded by controversy – England’s Richard III, the last Plantagenet King and last English King killed in a battLe – the Battle of Bosworth Field.

Richard III survives through the centuries as dramatis personae: a dramatized version of the original Richard III. Thanks to William Shakespeare’s play Eichard Iii, what comes out is physically and psychologically misshapen person who did foul deeds im order to become King after his brother”s death. His crimes on stage pales im comparison with that of Macbeth who committed regicide prodded on by a prophecy and ambition of his wife. Richard had several people killed enemies, allies and family in order to gain and remain in power. It was Richard who first said “Of with his head” and not the Queen in Wonderland, He wed the wife of his vanquished enemy. It is said that Richard III was the greatest villain of all time, although I believe that title would or ahould probablu go to another of Shakespeare’s creations – Iago from Othello.

This is not surprising since Shakespeare created Richard III during the reign of the Tudors, the Royals who defeated and supplanted the Plantagenetsat Bosworth Field.

The play has been staged several times through the centuries and adapted into film. A favorite of mine is Ian Mckellan’s film adaption of Richard III, set not in Medieval times but an alternative England set sometime during the end of the Great War and the 1930s with Richard donning a near Nazi flavor.

Of course this is Shakespeare’s Richard III. How accurate is it? Well it is a dramatised portrayal done during the height of power of Richard’s enemies. It is not surprising that he is portrayed as a devil who killed his own nephews to gain the throne.

There are those who deplore the portrayal and popular belief of Richard III for one the Richard III society – who came in the news recently when the bones of Richard III were found in a parking lot in Leicester. By the way analysis of the bones shows Richard III died of two fatal wounds; and evidence further shows that the body was subjected. to post death hacking and stabbing, save for the face – it was postulated that there was a need to show that Richard was dead and squelch any rumors that he survived, hence the face was spared.

Would Marcos have met the same fate if the people that rushed into Malacanang caught him? Would that happen if his allies did not desert him.

Like Richard, Marcos has been accused of being power hungry. He married someone from the rival political faction. He jailed his enemies and allies he did not trust. He is also accused of torturing and murdering people against his regime; and it is still believed his side was responsible for the assassination of his top political enemy Ninoy Aquino.

Marcos’ Bothsworth Field was the Snap Election and Edsa One. He fought an unlikely candidate from theOpposition. He seemed to have the advantage of number Power and allies. In the end though his numbers dwindled – the Armed Forces was defecting to the Opposition; his political power was diminished to the point he only controlled the streets of Malacanang; and his allies – Ramos, Enrile and ultimately the United States – deserted him, they ask him to cut clean. So the Aquinos and the Opposition became triumphant and Marcos and his court was taken by the Americans into exile – where he died.

Richard lost Bosworth Field despite his superior numbers because he was outmaneuvered and his allies deserted him and some attacked him.

There are those who believe that Richard III was demonized. History is often written from the point of view of the victors. What cannot be doubted though is that Richard also did good, his administration of the kingdom and the his laws shine through the shroud of time undiminished by any propaganda. What cannot ne argued however is that Richard was not a perfect king and his errors and sins became his undoing – he lost hos crown.

And perhaps it is the same way with Marcos. One cannot argue against what he achieved the roads built; food, population and other similar programs during his regime. But one cannot separate this from the imposition of Martial Law; Crony Capitalism; the Human Rights Abuses; and the Assassination of Benigno Aquino. These things along; his failing health; and the desertion of his allies led to his downfall.

Perhaps future historians will provide a more balanced assessment of Marcos. Although Richard III centuries after his death is still a figure of controversy.

So what are we left with? Surely not a rose colored and nostalgic view of the past nor a demonized verism of the past. Rather look upon it as an aid and think critically, using both the good and bad events, as a guide to the present and the future.

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