You think only leaders of the big nations grapple with complex problems? Then consider the smaller nations and the challenges they face. Here is an inside look at one such nation in crisis - the Philippines. A political trend of deep significance is sweeping Southeast Asia. Nation after nation in this corner of the world is shedding the traditionally democratic legacies of former colonial masters. Their leaders have opted instead for various forms of authoritarianism – the same governmental style in vogue throughout Asia in the days before democracy first took hold. Thailand, South Korea, South Vietnam and Singapore are examples of nations which, under severe pressure both internally and externally, have retained democratic government in name but not necessarily in practice. The Philippines is another such nation. Once hailed as the "show window of democracy in Asia," this collection of more than 7,100 tropical islands in the South China Sea has confronted a series of mounting crises with a declaration of martial law and a new constitution significantly altered from the one implemented thirty-eight years ago under watchful Western eyes.
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