There are plenty of interesting high-profile people in Southeast Asia, including these 10 famous politicians in the Philippines. The country has a colorful political past and present. The top politicians that have shaped the Philippines' political climate are:
- Imelda Marcos. Her name is synonymous with having a huge shoe collection. The widow of former president of the Philippines Fernando Marcos amassed great wealth and was charged dozens of times for illegally earning it. An investigation of her property at the presidential palace after she was exiled to Hawaii found 900 handbags, 500 gowns and thousands of pairs of shoes.
- Ferdinand Marcos. The former president of the Philippines is probably the most hated politician in the country's history. Marcos ruled the Philippines for two decades and left a legacy of corruption, nepotism and human rights violations. His government was charged with the assassination of the well-loved senator Benigno Aquino. Along with his wife Imelda, he allegedly moved billions of US dollars to banks in Switzerland and other countries.
Corazon "Cory" Aquino. The first female president of the Philippines was much loved and named Time's Person of the Year in 2009 after her death. In the 1980s she accomplished plenty, including heading the peaceful revolution called "People Power" that toppled the corrupt politician Ferdinand Marcos from his presidency. Her country's peaceful protest against corruption and human rights violations was an inspiration to other peaceful political revolts around the world.
Benigno Aquino. Aquino was an unyielding public opposer of Ferdinand Marcos' corrupt regime. The husband of former president Cory Aquino was assassinated as he stepped off the plane that landed him back to his home country from exile. To this day nobody has been sentenced for the crime. His death became the catalyst for his wife's political career and the fall of the Marcos era.
- Joseph "Erap" Estrada. Loved and hated by two opposing camps in the Philippines, former president Estrada marketed himself as the champion of the masses. The elite and educated, however, looked at him with disdain. The second "People Power" revolt in the Philippines caused this politician to lose his hold on the presidency, and he was charged with plunder but later pardoned.
Panfilo "Ping" Lacson. Lacson was the former director of the Philippine National Police and a senator. What made this politician tabloid-worthy were his links to various murder cases in the Philippines, including the killings of political publicist Salvador Dacer and eleven members of a Filipino mafia gang called Kuratong Baleleng.
Miriam Defensor. Senator Defensor has always been somewhat of an overachiever. She graduated magna cum laude with a degree in political science from the University of the Philippines and completed her masters degree at the University of Michigan law school. "Australia Magazine" ranked her among "The 100 Most Powerful Women in the World" back in 1996, along with Imelda Marcos.
- Raul Roco. The former senator and director of the Department of Education in the Philippines was a very popular politician among the youth for his strong stand against corruption. The Department of Education was ranked the fourth most corrupt agency before Roco headed it. He demanded transparency from the purchasing activities of his department's employees. He made sure public school teachers were paid promptly and pushed for free education up until high school for the Filipino youth.
- Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The second female president of the Philippines came from a family of politicians. Her father was former president Diosdado Macapagal. Forbes ranked her as the 44th most powerful woman in the world in 2009.
- Manny Pacquiao. Manny Pacquiao is known by sports-lovers around the world as "Pacman," not as a politician but as one of the best boxers in history. He did try his luck in politics, however. He ran for congress in 2007 but lost. His countrymen apparently believed his place was inside the ring and not in politics.
The Philippines has less than a century free from foreign rule, after being colonized by Spain, the United States and, briefly, Japan. This is one political climate that is worth keeping an eye on.