It Boggles the Mind…

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This was the headline of the Boston Globe the day after the Marcoses fled to Hawaii in 1986. I was a senior at Boston College, lived down the road from the Aquino family, and came from a family who had a history in public service through several decades. Needless to say, the feeling of elation, relief, hope and optimism that the Marcoses had left was palpable. I kept that newspaper in a college trunk all this time. So now that it’s 30 years later, it completely and utterly boggles the mind that we would, as a nation, seriously consider putting another Marcos into an elected position just a heartbeat away from the Presidency. I understand that one shouldn’t put the sins of the father onto the shoulders of the son, but really, with 103+ million citizens on this archipelago, couldn’t we just look for someone else, surely there is someone else with the intelligence, education (not misrepresented), experience, integrity and capability to do the job? Don’t you think we should take a moment to educate some of the 50+% of the population born after 1986 that one needs to know a bit of sordid history to perhaps avoid similar mistakes in the future?

To me personally, this would be like having Papa Doc and Baby Doc Duvalier’s grandson/son running Haiti, or Idi Amin’s offspring back in power in Uganda or Pinochet’s kids running Chile… but what do I know? Surely the youth and bulk of the voters today know what they’re doing, right?

If you need a 5 minute recap of the Marcos dictatorship, read this article by my uncle Jose V. Abueva in the Inquirer Op-Ed pages yesterday…


37 Responses

  1. MM, I weep for our country. Is there such a bankruptcy of talent that we as a people have embraced the very ones who pillored and plundered us? I agree that there should be massive re-education not only for those born after 1986 but also for those before it. Hope our countrymen are still educable, because going by the preferences seen from credible surveys, what with Binay and Marcos quite possibly emerging as Pres/VP, am not quite sure where we are headed.

  2. Not to mention Tito Sotto seems to be the frontrunner for the Senate. The same Tito Sotto who was caught with plagiarized speeches and enraged the online community by pushing for the e-libel law where a simple Like in Facebook can get you thrown in jail.

  3. THANK YOU MM for this post.

    Yes, I am shouting because we Pinoys in general have very short memories or have little sense of history. While the sins of the dictatorship is not to the same magnitude as the Holocaust, the Marcos dictatorship years was a horrible period just the same and we must never forget. Look at example of the Jewish people who are very good at reminding the world of their Holocaust.

    At the Bantayog ng Mga Bayani last night in Quezon City, I attended a book launch of Mila de Guzman’s ” Women Against Marcos” , stories of Filipino and Filipino American women who fought a dictator. I was happy to be in the company of many activist friends, many I have not seen in over 25 years, and also glad that many are still continuing their work for social justice and genuine societal change. Some of them are helping rebuild homes in typhoon stricken Samar, Leyte and Cebu or working with the urban poor,farmers and fisherfolk. Among those present were relatives of those tortured, killed or disappeared.

    Having myself been in the thick of the struggle against the dictatorship, my story is not in the book, but to hear their stories once again made me cringe , teary eyed and angry again. A sister to Liliosa Hilao, the first martial law detainee brutally tortured and killed recounted some details of Liliosa’s torture, not mentioned in the article below, how she was halved and quartered, and internal organs soaked in muriatic acid that the sister could not even embrace the dead body as the sister was warned she could be poisoned as well. It was claimed Liliosa committed suicide, this young hero of 23. I see the sister nearly breaking down as she recounted Liliosa’s’s story.

    WE MUST NOT ONLY SAY, NEVER AGAIN AND NEVER FORGET but do everything we can to stop another dictatorship or martial law situation to happen to our country, ever again!

    The barbarians are waiting and they maybe just at the gates if not beyond already.

  4. on the other hand, i totally disagree! we were never freed, even after the edsa revolution! in fact, we are now in a much worst situation! (my opinion only!!!)

  5. Unfortunately, we are a so-called ‘democracy’ where the decision of the ignorant majority binds the whole nation.

    Pacman – a billionaire with an empty mind, who attended only 4 short congress sessions last year and did not pass a single bill – considers gays worse than animals. But surely he would win a senate seat. Along with Sotto, another Lapid, Nancy Binay, JV Ejercito, Jinggoy Estrada and other characters of disrepute, they form the so-called Senate; what can we expect from it? Congress is dominated by thieves, landlords, big businessmen who are only after power and more ill-gotten wealth.

    The catholic majority protests Kim’s TV feature on evolution, complaining that the biblical Adam and Eve as our true predecessors were left out. Next thing you know, they will ask their faithful to rejoice and accept mass extinction when a potential next world war occurs as the realization of Armageddon – when only they would meet and join their lord and saviour in an eternal life! Shades of Star Wars or idiocy?

    Bongbong was elected senator. Imelda continues wallowing in luxury and partying. Imee serves as governor of Ilocos Norte. And all these after all those crimes and atrocities perpetrated by their father-tyrant and dictator. A sizeable part of the population still considers Ferdinand Marcos as the best president we ever had. Another Marcos as president? With the kind of electorate we have, it’s not far-fetched.

  6. And since this is a food blog, I’d like to add this piece not just for remembering the evils of the dictatorship but also for some appreciation of what it takes to bring food, canned food no less to our tables:

    “The outrageous story known as the Cannery Murders is a true-crime tale of political intrigue and racial injustice with a cast of characters that includes President Marcos, the FBI and the CIA.”

  7. Keep ’em coming Connie. I have a funny feeling there is a young audience out there that has no idea how many atrocities, excesses, lack of personal freedoms, etc. were foisted on the population for over 20 years… As dictators like Marcos, Duvalier, Pinochet, Amin, etc. etc. have fallen over the years, there are still folks who think they would be better off with them.

    There’s no doubt that I long for a disclipined, hard-working, honest, principled leader and would even offer to give up some of my personal freedoms (Singapore style for example) in exchange for the massive overall gains in society there, but I would NEVER EVER tolerate an abusive, lazy, intellectually impaired, narrow-minded, dishonest, incapable and self-interested leader… But since this is a democracy, I suppose the fatalistic view is that we get who we deserve, or at least the majority deserves, since they voluntarily voted for them…

  8. I am really appalled by the false information churned in Facebook about the “achievements” of Marcos. A list of infrastructure is not an achievement but a requirement for government to build for its people, funded by the people, and is not a gift from a brilliant president who speaks eloquently without a codigo.

  9. Lee, I know right. Folks are too clueless to understand that much of that infrastructure and “loans” to their personal accounts came at the expense of the national coffers, and more pointedly, phenomenal foreign loans at the time that nearly sank the country into bankruptcy. In fact, we had to follow IMF programs for many years after to emerge from the horrible period. It’s amazing how shallow or non-existent analysis is these days. I’d hate to think what criteria people actually use to select potential candidates for top posts. Here’s an interesting take on Marcos debt, from a website I know nothing about…

  10. With your indulgence, Market Man, I post this idea of mine here. Knowing your audience is vast outside the Phils, it could generate something positive.

    (with a little help from our friends)

    I have thought of a strategy that has the powerful potential of stopping the Marcos effort to return to power and revise history. It is based on the following premises:

    1.The Marcoses have no more “communist” cards to play. Back in the 70-80s, when the Cold War was at its peak, Marcos effectively used the US military bases as a bargaining chip in exchange for US tolerance of his corruption and brutality. The US was too concerned with Marxist expansion in the region so it was willing to play along. Today, the Cold War is over and the US has a very warm relationship with the Philippines with its EDCA and VFA agreements.

    2.The US has nothing to gain with the return of the Marcoses; in fact the opposite is true: they have more to lose since their return will result in new instability, a lack of integrity in leadership, and a strong potential to send the economy downwards again.

    The strategy: through diplomatic and backdoor channels, concerned groups will get in touch with sympathetic elements in the US State Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Anti-Money Laundering units abroad plus other relevant agencies to do the following:

    a. Get fresh information on the recent movements of the Marcos wealth. For sure, they have been exerting all effort to hide them in safe havens, but in today’s world, virtually anything can be sniffed out, if you do it well. The same technologies to track drug cartel money can be used. Come out with an updated catalog on all the loot recovered and those still missing.

    b. Get this info out to the public in the broadest possible way.

    c. Initiate legal proceedings that will result from these findings.

    What’s in it for America? It enhances its status as a world power while simultaneously protecting its interests in the region.

    What’s in it for the Philippines? It will be a good chance to stop this deceitful attempt to return to power, erase and revise history and inflict new harm on the Filipino people.

    Even in the worst case scenario where Bongbong wins the vice-presidency, his political stock/future will be damaged so badly, he will not be able to rule at all.

    My proposal clearly pushes only for information to be provided, and for action to be taken only by Filipinos.

    First rate intelligence services collate information on a continuous basis, not just when there is a sudden need for it, because you never know when it will be useful and where it might lead you. So I am pretty certain there are files needing only to be freshened up and re-written to give it an update. That is all I ask.

  11. “The Marcoses have no more “communist” cards to play.”

    The new cards are, “tough on crime”, “iron hand rule”, and “incorruptible leader”.

  12. @Fleeb

    The cards I am referring to has to do with how the Marcoses can bargain for support from the US, not with the Filipino electorate.

  13. andrew lim, just recently in the news, the government is still grappling with what to do with some of the jewelry seized from Imelda in Hawaii or Malacañan Palace or Greek friends that today is valued at PHP1 bilion or so, see this article. That alone is inexplicable on his salary and income as a President for 24 years even if they appreciated dramatically, which a lot of jewelry does not. And what about paintings recently exposed/seized? from Imelda’s home, here, including Picasso’s, Gauguin’s, Michelangelo’s where did those come from, just tidbits from some 100+ paintings believed to be purchased with questionable funds? Or the fact that we have paid billions and billions for a defective never finished or commissioned nuclear plant in Bataan — the single largest loan incurred during the Marcos reign and which costs an estimated $155,000 in interest a DAY? And what about this episode in New York where a Marcos aide was found guilty of selling paintings for more than $30 million, but the total cache of paintings worth perhaps in excess of $50-70 million, just PHP3.0 billion pesos or so for 6 canvases?!!

  14. Since many of the readers here were of age during the EDSA revolution, I want to ask if anybody here can confirm that Bongbong Marcos and General Ver were adamant that the crowds be bombed?

    What I remember was Bongbong wearing fatigues as if to show he was ready to fight, and General Ver kept on reminding Marcos on TV that the planes and tanks and choppers were ready, awaiting his orders to attack. But Marcos brushed him off.

  15. Nothing to add to this meaningful discussion: all the atrocities of the Marcos era… just feel deep sadness. for our country.

  16. We were personally affected by ‘the Marcoses”, physically, emotionally, and our livelihood too.
    This coming election, I can’t believe some of my young relatives are going to vote for Bongbong, same with my (same age) highschool classmates too.
    I am just baffled. Are they really dumb? Grrrrrr…

  17. Further to Connie’s, here are some more atrocities: So sad… esp. when you hear people defend and campaign for Marcos (who are mostly the poor; the most gullible and susceptible ones who were fed lies and surely given financial incentive), forget about the other half who are surely expecting to gain financial payback if he wins!

  18. Dr. Walden Bello, ( an independent senatorial candidate , and an Ilocano who has broken off from the regionalistic and provincialism of his many kabsats writes:

    “The politics of memory, Feb 25-26, 2016

    The past is never past. It is contested terrain, a battleground that is constantly fought over by present and future generations.
    There is a reason why Hitler remains the epitome of evil in Germany while the current generation of Japanese remains ignorant of the atrocities committed by their World War II generation. Post-war Germany made it a point to systematically teach the young the horrors of Nazism, while post-war Japanese governments chose the road of amnesia.

    The nostalgia for the Marcos era that has emerged in some quarters is the product of two failures: the failure of the anti-dictatorship generation to institutionalize instruction of the youth on the horrors of the Marcos regime and the failure of the EDSA Republic to deliver on its promise of bringing about a democracy responsive to people’s needs.

    Marcos, we now realize, is a vampire that will periodically rise from the dead in periods of national crisis, tempting us with the authoritarian solution. The only guarantee we will not go down that dismal road again is if we push beyond the limits of the EDSA regime of elite democracy towards a truly just, truly egalitarian, truly caring democracy.

    Celebrating the EDSA revolution is a hollow exercise unless it is accompanied by the call to go beyond the EDSA Republic to which it gave birth.”

  19. I have to share this in my FB account. I have so many 40-and-below friends who need intensive input..

  20. Knowing that I’m Ilokano, one of the security guards in our office asked me who I will vote for. I told him my candidate. He said, “dapat Marcos”. I just shook my head. I also learned that many of my cousins coming from Pangasinan are voting for BBM. These are 40 to 50 year olds.

    Here in our office, I don’t know any person voting for Binay or Marcos. These are 20 to 50 year olds. So you see, it’s not only in the age profile. Pardon my profiling but I think BBM is popular in the C, D and the Ilokanos and not necessarily the younger crowd. I’m 41 btw.

    Since yesterday, I’m bombarding my FB feed with Tagalog posts about the Marcos years. It’s time my relatives from Ilocos and Pangasinan gets educated or re-educated about the sins of Martial Law. Hope everyone can do the same thing.

  21. Makes you wonder how the Marcos era is depicted in history school books and what schools teach about those years.

  22. “Despicable amnesia” is the right term for what we collectively have as a people. Just the fact that the Marcoses have been able to come back to the country, return to politics and society without being made to account for a single wrongdoing, is appalling enough. My country disappoints me so.

  23. Based on our population data, by 2016, at least 16.67% of the voters will have no living memory of the Cory Administration, 31.74% will have no living memory of EDSA I, 44.68% will have no living memory of Martial Law. Moreover, 65.78% of the voters will have no living memory of the declaration of Martial Law, and a stunning 74.47% of the voting population will have no living memory of what life was like before Marcos assumed the Presidency in 1965!

  24. Thank you so much for this, MM!

    I was not born yet during martial law and a toddler during the People Power Revolution so I never bore witness to these atrocities but when I listened recently to millennials’ insights that we were probably better off then and we ought to bring back the “glory days of the Marcos era” (some well-educated Ateneo and UP college/law students were interviewed by Boy Abunda on ANC), I cringe and writhe in pain (and I could only imagine that those who actually suffered through the dictatorship would rather slash their wrists and squeeze calamansi juice on their wounds in disbelief).

    Indeed one should not let the children suffer for the sins of their father. But esmyuskeee, BONGBONG WAS NO CHILD DURING THE REGIME. He was a fullfledged adult in his late 20s (even much older than the student activists who were tortured and jailed), and became a public official during his father’s reign, Governor of Ilocos no less.

    And while he has masterfully tried to remain elusive on the systematic human rights abuses, and has somewhat distanced himself subtly from his dark past through his ads and PR (“hindi tayo ang ating nakaraan”– ok dude, props to your ad agency–masterful slogan and this scares the shit out of me), neither he nor his family has shown any repentance. He benefitted from that ill-gotten wealth that his father pilfered from our coffers. And continues to hold on to it to date.

    I don’t know if Napoles is more “relatable” to the millenials since she’s a more recent crook in our history, but her spendthrift kid (who is barely out of college or I’m not even sure if she attended) is persecuted relentlessly by her peers on social media. And not to come to the girl’s defense, (since she should definitely rot in jail like her mother), but judging superficially just from the looks of it, she does seem pretty clueless with how corrupt her mother was and I wouldn’t be surprised if her feigned ignorance was somewhat genuine (Her mother was not in public office and by sheer circumstance she could’ve been a thriving businesswoman with oodles of money). Nevertheless, Napoles’ kid is being held liable for tax evasion, and even all the more, is most deservedly bashed in social media.

    I just don’t understand how it’s not the same banana with Bongbong. There’s absolutely no way he could feign the same ignorance (with a father as President and his bejewelled mother in public service, and his entire family basking in wealth), and if he were to be so pretentious and were to make outrageous claims “I had no idea,” (that really ought to trump Leo’s Academy Award)— then millenials should nonetheless see through this glaring BS (ok fine, so there’s the DepEd to blame; the forgotten stortyelling or complacency that such a tragedy must’ve been etched in the collective memory for generations; the past and current admins that haven’t really been that admirable for the youth to begin with etc. But enough of the blame game– how do we fix it (and fix it quick) to prevent history from repeating itself, and from allowing ourselves to become the laughingstock of the world come May 2016?)

    Please MM start an effective campaign to make the kids remember that the Marcoses were, and still are very evil, before it’s too late. I’ll sign up. And thousands more will. I know you can get the ball rolling.

  25. @Maki: There is not only a dictator in the Marcos family but a traitor as well. The dictator’s father Mariano died in the hands of guerillas in the closing days of WW II , a collaborator to the Japanese , each of his hands tied to a carabao who were whipped to run in different or opposite directions. Lapham, R., and Norling, B., 1996, Lapham’s Raiders, Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, ISBN 0813119499

    ”It is widely believed in the Philippines that Marcos’s father was killed by Filipino guerrillas during the war because he was helping the Japanese,” said Dr. Salvador R. Gonzalez, a Filipino professor of philosophy who taught at the University of the Philippines and is now a fellow at Princeton.”

  26. For more on the “golden age” of the Marcos Years:

    “Add the civic virtue of Al Capone, the greed of Ivan Boesky, the gentility of a China Seas pirate. Wed this paragon to a bimbo on the make with the vanity of a Marie Antoinette and a shopping lust that would turn a Beverly Hills divorcee envy-green. Multiply by ten and you have, approximately, the portraits of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos that Sterling Seagrave paints in this merciless account of the Filipino dictator’s rise and fall.”

    “What drove them to accumulate billions they could never have spent in three lifetimes? What possessed her to buy those infamous closetsful of unworn shoes?”

    ” Lyndon Johnson, no mean connoisseur of cads, may serve as final witness. After one encounter with the self- glorifying Marcos, L.B.J. called in Assistant Secretary of State William Bundy and warned, “If you ever bring that son of a bitch within 50 miles of me again, I’ll have your job.””

    Mercenary Monsters From Manila THE MARCOS DYNASTY,9171,148047,00.html



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