Today in Philippine History, April 21, 1897, Mariano Marcos was born in Batac, Ilocos Norte

Thursday March 21, 2013 ()

On April 21, 1897, Mariano Marcos, a lawyer, educator, and legislator, was born in Batac, Ilocos Norte to Fabian Marcos and Cresencia Rubio. Fabian was a farmer who had served as gobernadorcillo and justice of the peace of Batac after the Philippine Revolution, championed the Ilocano language but at the same time cultivated a scholarship in the Spanish language. A militant follower of Gregorio Aglipay and member of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, he raised Mariano under the Aglipayan faith.

Mariano Marcos and Family
(The Marcoses. From left to right front row: Pacifico, Elizabeth and Ferdinand. Back row: Josefa and Mariano. The youngest, Fortuna, is not in the photo)

Marcos had his primary and intermediate education in his hometown. Then he went to Manila to study at the Philippine Normal School, where he graduated valedictorian, with honors in oratory and debating, in 1916. One of his co-graduates was Josefa Edralin whom he married that same year. They had four children; Ferdinand, who became President of the Philippines (1965-1986); Pacifico, a physician; Elizabeth, former Ilocos Norte Governor, and Fortuna.

Right after he received his diploma, the Bureau of Education named him maestro insular in Laoag, a position he held until 1917, when he was promoted to maestro pricipal. A year later, he was enlisted in the National Guard and given the rank of lieutenant. On September 16, 1919, after passing a rigid examination, he was named supervising teacher, a position that required traveling and doing the rounds of the public schools in the whole province. He held this position until January 4, 1921, when he resigned to accept the position of high school teacher at the National University. While teaching in this institution, he studied law at the University of the Philippines. Among his professors were Justices Malcolm and Laurel. He graduated valedictorian with a bachelor of laws degree on March 27, 1925, passing the bar not long after. He and his lawyer-brother Pio opened a law office in Batac, with a branch in Manila.

Meanwhile, with the encouragement of his friends and admirers, he had entered politics. Running under the banner of the Nacionalista Party, and backed by the majority of his fellow Bataqueños, he was elected representative of the second district of Ilocos Norte. Marcos was considered one of the most effective speakers in the entire province during his time. His powerful voice gave him an edge over other politicians during political rallies. He successfully ran for the same position in 1928.

In the legislature, he obtained the chairmanship of the powerful committee on ways and means, and likewise served as member of other committees including those on public instruction, public works, public estate, and mines and natural resources.

He bid for the same seat in 1932, but lost to his rival from Laoag, Emilio Medina, a consequence of the Batac vote being divided between him and his town mate and fellow candidate, Julio Nalundasan.

In 1935, Marcos cast another bid at the legislature, this time for a seat at the National Assembly under the Commonwealth government, but lost to Nalundasan. Not long after the elections, the latter was mysteriously killed. Somehow, Marcos, his son Ferdinand, his brother Pio, and his brother-in-law Quirino Lizardo, were accused of the crime and eventually arrested and tried for the crime in 1938. However, he and his brother were acquitted. Although his son and brother-in-law, were convicted, they were ultimately acquitted when the case was raised to the Supreme Court. The Marcos name was thus vindicated.

His wife, while she was still alive, recalled that Marcos was strict about the training of their children but at the same time very understanding. A product of the old school, he adhered to a strict code of discipline that he passed onto his children, inculcating in them primarily the values of responsibility and obedience. Mrs. Marcos acknowledged him as the fount of their children’s intellectual endowments, including a fluency in the three languages of Ilocano, Spanish and English for, Mariano was a true trilingual who insisted on preserving the purity of each language.

But it was not all academics for Marcos for he knew too well the value of physical fitness. Not only did he have a passion for boxing, wrestling and shooting, he also had the expertise, teaching his two sons the "scientific" method of boxing and insisting on them to always settle sibling rivalries through wrestling. He taught them boxing and shooting so well that his sons used to out-box opponents in local children’s boxing derbies; his second son Pacifico eventually became an expert pistol shooter like himself, while his eldest son Ferdinand became national rifle champion at the age of sixteen.

In March 1945, during the closing days of the war, Marcos died in La Union at the hands of the enemy.

In his memory, a number of streets and schools, both in Manila and in Ilocos Norte, including the Mariano Marcos State University in Batac, and MMSU College of Education in Laoag City, were named after him. Moreover, Marcos town, formerly a part of Dingras, Ilocos Norte, and created a town in 1963 by Republic Act No. 3753, was named in his honor.

On October 24, 1982, the National Historical Institute paid him tribute by installing a marker at the Don Mariano Marcos State University in Batac, Ilocos Norte.

(All via the National Historical Commission of the Philippines)

  1. (Cadiz, Ernesto Ma., Bella C. Currameng, and Dy, Mary Ebitha. Ilocos Norte Gem of the North.
  2. Batac, Ilocos Norte: Iloko Research and Information Center, Mariano Marcos State University, 1988.
  3. Spence, Hartzell. Marcos of the Philippines. New York and Cleveland: The World Publishing Company. 1969
  4. Tatad, Francisco. Marcos of the Philippines. Department of Public Information. Manila, 1974.
  5. Photo credit: Barkadahang Pinay (


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