Every president that moved into Malacañang Palace came with a First Lady except one. Gloria Arroyo came as President. At first people were unsure what to call her husband. Consort? First Man? A few years later they got a lot of names for him but not one he would put on his lapel.
Gloria Arroyo was not new to the Palace. She is former President Diosdado Macapagal’s daughter. Her father’s four year term is remembered by the Macapagal tenement buildings he provided for the poor. All still stand today.
The Filipino saying “a mango tree will not produce a banana” gave the nation high hopes on his daughter’s reign. Gloria Arroyo’s two terms lasting 9 years in the Palace left the nation’s hopes unfulfilled. She is right now under litigation for alleged corruption her family is accused of on her watch.
During Pres. Arroyo’s term Hong Kong and Singapore were crippled by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) a new epidemic that reached 37 countries and killed a total of 775 worldwide. Philippines, a stone’s throw from Hong Kong, has a huge Chinese population that traveled to the SARS infected countries. The Bird Flu spread from Asia to Europe, Middle East and Africa. The Philippines did not catch an epidemic. Pres. Arroyo must have done something right.
Corazon Aquino better known as Cory was a housewife who was catapulted into the Palace by tumultuous events that ended the 20 year Martial Law. Career politicians said she was not qualified. Cory did not aspire for a second term. The Family Code she instituted made marriage annulment, albeit outrageously expensive, possible. The judiciary found a new source of income and it worked around the impassable divorce law. She left the nation a gift of a second chance.
Imelda Marcos arrived at the Palace as a First Lady. The former beauty queen, 5’8 tall, sang her way into the hearts of the Filipinos. She developed the parks poor families could enjoy for free. She built the Cultural Center, the Kidney Center, the Heart Center, the Lung Center and the Light Rail Transit. She modernized the public hospitals where the poor can have a major operation for as little as the equivalent of $10. She diplomatically positioned the Filipinos in many countries as contract workers (OFW) which created a whole new sector of the population bridging the poor and the middle class. She was accused of so many crimes none of which the justice system could make stick. Ignoring her accomplishments, the world remembers her by the shoes in her closet.