Times 2

No easy love for Philippine Presidents

In the Philippines, a tropical nation that often seems to be in love with the idea of being in love, people have long been fascinated with their leaders' love lives. Now the country's 51-year-old bachelor leader, Benigno Aquino III, is pleading for the media to back off and provide him with privacy to woo another potential mate, warning reporters recently that it will 'be on your conscience' if they scare off any more girlfriends.

Ferdinand Marcos and Imelda

Ferdinand Marcos came to power in 1965, two years after the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy, and his wife, Imelda, wasted little time repackaging the Marcos marriage as a counterpoint to Camelot on the Potomac.

The Marcoses, especially Mrs. Marcos, traveled the world, and for many years were adored in the U.S. At home, with martial law in effect, Mrs. Marcos adopted an old Philippines creation myth, the story of Malakas and Maganda, or Strength and Beauty, to strengthen the couple's hold on the country.

Roughly equivalent to a Philippines Adam and Eve story, Malakas and Maganda were both born from a single stem of bamboo, and Mrs. Marcos had murals hung up in theaters and the presidential palace depicting her husband and her in this primeval pose.

It wasn't enough to save Mr. Marcos's presidency, however, and the couple fled the Philippines in 1986, with Mr. Marcos dying a few years later. Mrs. Marcos is now back in the Philippines' Congress at the age of 81.

Here, Mrs. Marcos kissed the glass coffin of her husband before she started her motorcade campaign in northern Philippines on March 26, 2010.

Corazon Aquino and Benigno Aquino

Corazon Aquino was a self-described housewife until her husband, Marcos critic Senator Benigno Aquino Jr., was shot dead on arrival at Manila's international airport in 1983. She was then thrust to the head of the Philippines' People Power movement, leading marches and demonstrations for the restoration of democracy until the Philippine military turned and the Marcoses fled the country.
In 1986, Mrs. Aquino was sworn in as president and served in the position until 1992, when she left the presidential palace in Manila in an old Toyota sedan.

Here, Mrs. Aquino talked with her son, then-Senator Benigno Aquino III, during a memorial service on Aug. 21, 2007, marking the 24th anniversary of the assassination of her husband.

Joseph Estrada and "Friends'

Having a series of mistresses in addition to his wife didn't hamper movie star Joseph Estrada's foray into politics, and he was elected president in 1998.

Once in office, though, a number of factions surrounding some of Mr. Estrada's partners, including Guia Gomez and Laarni Enriquez, complicated his efforts at running the country and he was eventually hounded out of office in 2001 in a popular revolt surrounding his alleged corruption. Critics said he illegally massed a small fortune to help support his various families-a charge he denies despite being convicted of plunder in 2007. He was later pardoned by his successor, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Here, Mr. Estrada and his wife, former Senator Loi Estrada, during a thanksgiving mass in Manila on Jan. 21, 2010.

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Jose

As soon as Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, then vice president, came to power following the downfall of President Joseph Estrada in a corruption scandal in 2001, the role of her husband, lawyer Jose Miguel Arroyo, quickly became a subject of intense speculation in Manila. Later, when asked at a press forum whether she still had time in her busy schedule for sex, Mrs. Arroyo famously replied that she was getting 'plenty' before blushing.

Here, Mr. Arroyo waved next to his wife in Manila on April 7, 2010.

Benigno Aquino III

Since being elected president last year following the death of his mother, Benigno Aquino III has struggled to juggle his love life with the demands of office and the Philippines' insatiable media, which can give Britain's ferocious tabloids a run for their money. Now Mr. Aquino is pleading for the media to back off and provide him with privacy to woo another potential mate, warning reporters recently that it will 'be on your conscience' if they scare off any more girlfriends.

Here, Mr. Aquino raised hands with City Councilor Shalani Soledad, his girlfriend then, following his speech before thousands of supporters at his last presidential campaign rally in Manila on May 7, 2010.

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