Power Couples of Philippine Politics

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Cory and Ninoy Aquino
Young Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos

So who says politics can't be romantic?

We did some research on who in Philippine politics are married to each other, and found out that the list was longer than we expected. Some couples belong to established political dynasties, while some couples established political dynasties, and a few have become legends not only because they hold considerable political power but also because of their romantic marriage.

The late Basilan Governor turned Congressman Wahab Akbar was a unique case, as two of his four wives (as allowed by Muslim law) also held elective offices. His wife Jum Jainuddin-Akbar succeeded him as Governor of Basilan; his other wife Cherrylyn Santos-Akbar was elected Mayor of Isabela City, Basilan. Both women held office almost at the same time.

Among the known husband and wife teams in Philippine politics are:

  • Harry and Maria Zenaida Angping – He was the Representative of the 3rd District of Manila but later was disqualified for not being a natural-born citizen, enabling Miles Roces to run uncontested. She later ran against Roces and won back the post.
  • Wilhelmino and Ma. Victoria Sy-Alvarado – He was formerly Mayor of Hagonoy, Bulacan, then Representative of the 1st District of Bulacan. Later, he was elected Vice-Governor of Bulacan. She was Vice-Mayor of Hagonoy, then succeeded him as Representative.
  • Aurelio and Czarina Umali – He was Representative of the 3rd District of Nueva Ecija and later Governor of the same province; she succeeded him as Representative.
  • Abdullah and Imelda Dimaporo – He was Representative of Lanao del Norte in the Batasang Pambansa and was later elected as Representative of the 2nd District of Lanao del Norte for three terms; she was elected Governor of Lanao del Norte. Their son Khalid also became Governor of Lanao del Norte.
  • Democrito Sr. and Valentina Plaza – Dubbed the “father of the CARAGA Region”, he was Representative and Governor of the once-unified province of Agusan, then Representative and Governor of Agusan del Sur. She also became Governor of Agusan del Sur. Their daughter, also named Valentina, was also elected Governor of Agusan del Sur, while their son, also named Democrito, was elected Mayor of Butuan City. Other members of the clan held and still hold important positions in Agusan.
  • Manuel and Cynthia Villar – He was elected as Representative of Las Pinas and later became Senator. She was also elected Representative of Las Pinas.

The lives of the next two couples are diametrically opposed and inextricably linked in the annals of Philippine history. Both couples were married in the same year (1954) and had the same principal sponsor, then President Ramon Magsaysay; both marriages were considered very romantic, but at the same time forged alliances between powerful political clans. Yet they were political opponents, and the struggle between the two couples for more than ten years altered the fate of the nation.

  • Benigno Jr. (Ninoy) and Corazon (Cory) Aquino – Scion of the Aquino clan of Tarlac, he was an aide to President Ramon Magsaysay, and was later elected Mayor of Concepcion, Tarlac, the youngest Mayor in the country at that time. He went on to become Vice Governor, then Governor of Tarlac. Later, he became the youngest member of the Philippine Senate. He was poised to become the next President of the Philippines if Marcos had not declared Martial Law. His opposition to the Marcos regime, exile, and subsequent assassination made him a legend. From the Cojuangco clan, also of Tarlac, she was the quiet wife who stood by him and followed him into exile. After his death, she was catapulted to the forefront of the opposition, which culminated in the EDSA Revolution of 1986 that toppled the Marcos regime. She then became the first female President of the Philippines. Their son, Benigno III (Noynoy), was elected Representative of the 2nd District of Tarlac and later became a member of the Philippine Senate.
  • Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos – This couple was known for their "theme song", "Dahil Sa Iyo". From the Marcos clan of Ilocos Norte, he became a Representative of Ilocos Norte and the youngest congressman of his time. He then won a seat in the Philippine Senate, becoming the first minority party candidate to top a senatorial election. He then became Senate Minority Floor Leader and later Senate President. Later, he became President of the Philippines, was reelected twice, and finally declared Martial Law, which gave him free reign in the country for fourteen years. From the Romualdez clan of Leyte, she was a beauty queen who as First Lady of the Philippines wielded substantial power and influence in government. Her husband appointed her, at various times, to the offices of Governor of Manila, Minister of Human Settlements, and Ambassador Plenipotentiary and Extraordinary. She also became a member of the interim Batasang Pambansa. As First Lady of the Philippines, she became well-known worldwide for her extravagant lifestyle, even inspiring the word “imeldific”. After her family’s exile to Hawaii and her husband’s death, she returned to the Philippines with her children and was elected Representative of the 1st District of Leyte. Two of their children, Maria Imelda Josefa (Imee) and Ferdinand Jr. (Bongbong), were also elected Representatives of Ilocos Norte.

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