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Obituaries

Raul Manglapus; Marcos Foe, Philippine Official

July 27, 1999|ELAINE WOO | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Raul S. Manglapus, a Philippine nationalist who organized Filipinos in the United States against Ferdinand Marcos and later became his country's foreign minister under President Corazon Aquino, died Sunday at his home near Manila. He was 80 and had suffered from cancer.

Manglapus was on a speaking engagement in California in 1972 when Marcos declared martial law in the island nation. During his 13-year exile, he founded the Movement for a Free Philippines and was, with Benigno S. Aquino Jr., one of Marcos' most prominent foes in the United States.

After his return to the Philippines in 1986, Manglapus was elected to the senate and later invited to join the Aquino Cabinet. As foreign minister, he negotiated the closing of what were then America's two largest military bases on foreign soil.

He often angered American officials with his sharp anti-U.S. rhetoric. The Philippines needed to "slay the American father-figure image," he said in 1988, explaining the importance of ending the treaty that had allowed the United States to maintain Subic Bay Naval Base in Olongapo and Clark Air Base at Angeles City for nearly a century.

"The powerful shadow of America remains cast over our land," he said in a speech on the eve of U.S.-Philippine talks over the future of the bases. "The Americans solved their problem by crawling away from the British shadow, thus speeding their growth. But the long, fixed shadow of Subic and Clark stretches over the land and mind of the Filipino."

Manglapus was born in Manila on Oct. 20, 1918. In Manila, he attended Ateneo de Manila and the University of Santo Tomas; he also attended Georgetown University in Washington. During World War II, as part of the Philippine resistance, he was captured and tortured by the Japanese, escaping in 1944 to join a guerrilla group attached to the U.S. 11th Airborne Division.

After the war, he taught constitutional law in Manila. In 1954, he was secretary general of the founding conference of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization and a visiting professor of law at several U.S. universities, including Harvard.

In 1957, he was appointed foreign affairs secretary by President Ramon Magsaysay. He served in the Philippine senate from 1961 to 1967, and was defeated by Marcos in a bid for the presidency in 1965.

He was in California for a speaking engagement when Marcos declared martial law Sept. 21, 1972, and ordered his arrest as leader of a progressive faction. Manglapus was granted political asylum by the United States and spent the next 13 years lobbying Congress and the State Department to end American support for the authoritarian government of Marcos.

When Marcos was deposed in 1986 after a 20-year reign, Manglapus returned to a hero's welcome in Manila. He said he was grateful to the United States for helping the Philippine people topple Marcos--"it was the final Reagan touch that pushed him over," he said. But he also called it "lamentable that it took such a long time" for the United States to act.

After succeeding Salvador Laurel as foreign minister in 1987, Manglapus gave voice to his country's surging nationalism. A longtime critic of the American military presence, he pressed for a considerable increase in U.S. military aid and general economic assistance--$1 billion a year for the final three years of the agreement ending in 1991, compared with the $900 million the United States had committed in all of the previous five years.

Clark was finally ordered closed after suffering massive damage in the devastating eruption of neighboring Mt. Pinatubo in 1991, and Subic Bay was closed in 1992. Several years after control of the bases was turned over to the Philippine government, Manglapus said he believed the transition had been successful. But his view of the historic changeover that ended America's paternalistic presence in his country had not lost its bite: "I think the slaying has happened," he said, "nonviolently, diplomatically and to the satisfaction of the slayer and the slain."

Manglapus was, in addition to being an advocate of Philippines nationalism, a playwright, composer and musician. In 1988, with the talks underway over the future of the American military bases, he staged a lighthearted musical assault on the United States: an off-Broadway satire on American involvement in the Philippines, written on a Ford Foundation grant while the exiled Manglapus was at Cornell University. It was titled "Manifest Destiny: An Evening of Yankee Panky."

Manglapus is survived by his wife, Pacita; four sons; a daughter; and 12 grandchildren.

Scott J. Wilson of the Times editorial library contributed to this story.

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