Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

1 minute read
By Charlie Campbell
Updated: | Originally published:

For Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to make history, he first needed to rewrite his nation’s. His dictator father plundered billions of dollars from state coffers and stood accused of grievous human-rights violations until his ouster in 1986. Bongbong’s rise to the Philippine presidency in 2022 was owed to whitewashing this family legacy through clever manipulation of social media.

Yet Bongbong’s desire to rehabilitate the Marcos name has resulted in other shifts. He brought technocrats back into government, steadied the post-­pandemic economy, and elevated the Philippines on the world stage.

Bongbong has stood steadfast against Chinese aggression in the disputed South China Sea and bolstered his nation’s alliance with the U.S. in the face of “rising tensions in our region and the world,” as he said last May. Many problems persist, including extra­judicial killings and journalists routinely attacked. But by trying to repair his family name, Bongbong may reshape his country too. 

Campbell is a TIME correspondent

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