Interesting Glimpse at the Philippines Back in the ‘80s


I have always been fascinated by the Philippine history. Looking at the recent decades through a microscope, the powerful impact that the 1980s brought was undeniable. For starters, Martial Law lasted until 1981. The dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ reign ended with the “People Power Revolution” ignited. The aftermath of the tragic era was translated through the Filipino films.


These are just some of the highlights of the bygone decade. Educate yourself about other matters by reading this post.






Brace yourselves! I am starting with one of the pressing matters – the Philippine economy. “Difficult” is the one word that can encapsulate what the Philippine economy went through during this period. The Gross National Product (GNP) grew at a yearly average of merely 1.8%. This figure is significantly smaller than the ever so increasing population rate.


Furthermore, the national unemployment rate peaked at 11.4% as the 80s come to a close. The unemployment rate of the individuals who were elderly, poor, and less-educated, was about twice as high as the national unemployment rate. These factors urged approximately 470,000 Filipinos to leave the country for work. They either worked as contracted workers or as merchant seamen. Some of them opted to migrate to Australia.





If we took a gander at the Philippine culture back in the ’80s, we would realize that it focused on the consequences of the Martial Law. Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. remains one of the most unforgettable Presidents of the Philippines. He ruled the country from 1965 to 1986. Among these years, the most impactful period was 1972 to 1981 as he declared a dictatorship and called it “Martial Law”. Only his rules were respected then!


Several brave souls stood up to the dictator including Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr. In August 1983, he was assassinated. Filipinos, around the world, mourned due to his passing! The event made the nation stronger.


In 1986, Filipinos united in a peaceful and successful revolution to bring back the democracy in the country. It was a bloodless revolution they called as “People Power Revolution”. Due to this, the Philippines became the center of the world news. Nationalism and faith reigned the overall culture.






On a lighter note, let me put a spotlight on what was on trend in this decade. Big and bold was all the rage during the roaring ’80s. Visualize shoulder pads, parachute pants (or MC Hammer pants), and teased hairstyles! The ’80’s silhouettes evoked power and spunk.


Women dawned the broad shoulders trend by attaching shoulder pads to their ensemble. Topping this look are voluminous hairstyles that were high and tangled. Different cuts and hair dyes were welcomed too.


As for the legs, they were decorated with leg warmers and printed leggings. Leg warmers is an article of clothing used to protect the calves from the cold weather. However, people began wearing it over leggings, jeans, and just about anything. You either like or dislike printed leggings. Sorry darling ’80s as I personally dislike this trend!






Positive and negative changes were felt by the Philippine film industry in the 1980s. Alternative forms of art were displayed through the independent cinema. As you may have imagined, the thematic focus of many films dealt with heavy topics following the Martial Law era.


Betamax and VHS were introduced as well as Sony Walkman. Cool break dancers used to bring their boombox radios to the streets. I thought that it was only in the movies!


To be considered as a “rich” family’s home, it typically includes sets of radio components, televisions, and telephones. Were you one of these blessed families?


Looking back at the past decades will make you realize how much the Philippines has progressed over the years. The nation pushed through in unison to overcome the hardships of the past. What other events and fads do you remember during this vibrant decade?

Anna Agoncillo

Anna is a Registered Psychometrician and a graduate of Cardiff Metropolitan University, United Kingdom. Earning a bachelor's degree with honors in Psychological Studies, lead her to a career of writing and teaching. She is also the author of the new book entitled Psychology of Love, Money, & Life.


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