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  As a young boy, Ramos watched his congressman-father chop wood and plant vegetables to feed his family. Once prominent in the northern province, the Ramos

  Ⅱ.Although he was too young for military service the war touched Ramos when he helped shield his second cousin, Ferdinad Marcos, then a lieutenant in the underground guerrilla army, from the Japanese.

  Despite such distractions, Ramos remained a serious student, becoming president of his secondary school class. In 1945, one year before his country gained independence from America, he decided on a career. Engineers would be needed to rebuild his devastated country, he concluded.

  He took a competitive exam for West Point, the U.S. military academy, and won the one space reserved in each class for a Filipino. Following graduation. He trained as a civil engineer in Illinois. He learned to lead by example and soon recognized his own country’s need for a professional, nonpolitical military. His time in America, he says, reinforced his strong belief in free enterprise his strong belief in free enterprise, in the rule of law and in the value of rewarding merit.

  Ramos served with Philippine forces during the Korean War and then returned home to fight against peasant rebels. As a captain he helped found and train the first battalion of elite Philippine forces during the Korean War and then returned home to fight against peasant rebels. As a captain he helped found and train the first battalion of elite Philippine special forces troops. As a major, he volunteered for Vietnam, where he realized for Vietnam, where he realized that the same conditions that fed revolution there also existed in his own impoverished country.

  As Ramos rose through the ranks of the Philippine military, he knew better than most the excesses of the Marcos regime. He had frequently thought of quitting, but had stayed out of loyalty to his men. “I have so many thousands of people to whom I am responsible,” Ramos told his friends. “I cannot just quit.” Besides, Marcos himself had promoted his savvy younger cousin to head the military-led national police force.

  Eventually, the break came. At 4 p.m. on February 21, 1986, Major-General Fidel Ramos was preparing to face a gathering of angry neighbors. Juan Ponce Enrile, the defense minister, was asking him to join an uprising against Marcos.

  Moments later, Amelita Ramos ushered the neighbors into their living room. The Philippines’s second-ranking military officer sat patiently as his friends pleaded. “Please, sir,” one of his neighbors implored, “for the good of the country, resign. Leave Marcos.” Like most Filipinos, they believed the recent elections had been arranged by Marcos, denying Cory Aquino her rightful place as the new president of the Philippines.

  As his neighbors left his house, Ramos was ready to join Enrile. Together they hoped to rally the philipine military to Aquino’s side, praying that enough popular support could be generated to keep themselves from being slaughtered by Marcos loyalists.

  Four days later, the massive demonstrations fueled by the defections of Ramos and Enrile had triumphed. Marcos and his notorious free-spending wife, Imelda, were forced to flee the country. Cory Aquino became the new president, and the People Power revolution quickly became a worldwide symbol of democracy.

  Ramos, Aquino’s first military chief of staff and later her defense secretary, was at one point urged by officers to join an attempted coup. But he held firm to his belief in the democratic process. In 1992, Aquino endorsed Ramos in the six-candidate race to succeed her.

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