Don’t just teach your students to read. Teach them to question what they read, what they study. Teach them to doubt. Teach them to think. – Richard Feynman
Many of my relatives worked under the government offices of Martial Law (ML), and it provided food on our table.
One can say that the ML government-supplied even the milk I was fed with, so one can only imagine how grateful my family was towards the Marcoses.
I love my relatives, and this article is in no way to discredit how they feel towards ML; however, it is about time I write about how one is short of being brainwashed to believe lies and how more than often, this starts with one’s family.
So, I apologize if this article might sound irreverent or disrespectful.
Still, in the spirit of searching for truth, more often than not, everything about what truth ought to be, seems to be offensive, as Dr. Jordan Peterson pointed out.
May my relatives find it in their hearts to read this article with an open mind and focus on where the evidence rests.
Political discussions with kids weren’t the strongest suit of my family.
Whenever discussions arise, we were ordered to stay in another place.
I wasn’t sure if they were shielding us from the discussions, or they were afraid that we might unwittingly mention it elsewhere; nonetheless, we were ‘incommunicado’ at best whenever these things happen at home.
However, that didn’t stop me from inculcating the myths surrounding Ferdinand Marcos (FM) and Martial Law (ML).
And growing up in an environment where my relatives benefited from ML didn’t help promote critical thinking in the family. (Critical thinking in the sense that one is also able to take a stand to argue for an issue and afterward take up the opposite stand)
“It is a narrow mind which cannot look at a subject from various points of view.” – George Eliot, Middlemarch.
I was indoctrinated from a very young age that Ferdinand Marcos was the real hero of EDSA (I know, I know don’t roll your eyes just yet), that Martial Law was heaven for the Philippines and that Cory and Ninoy Aquino were EVIL people.
Whenever I ask why, my relatives would answer, Marcos said so, and because THEY too said so, and that’s the end of it.
You see, in our family, you never question authority; everything they said is the law (sort of like Martial Law daily, and that does not include the beatings, but that’s another story).
I think that was the way my relatives were also brought up back in the province.
I remember I would go to school shouting “Marcos, Marcos, Marcos Pa Rin!” complete with the V sign and the red shirt that I was so proud to wear.
I would hate the color yellow and would look condescendingly at it every chance I get.
Give that mindset and worldview ten years or more, and you will find yourself a full-fledged Marcos apologist.
Sort of what one would call in the U.S. a white supremacist, I guess…
I was also trained to look at Marcos’s “Golden Age”in an era where the grownups are the only source of information. Never mind that the school system never brought up the history of Martial Law for whatever reason they didn’t; I can only guess.
Most of my history teachers think that Philippine History ended after World War 2, the only ones who talked to me about Martial Law in a hush as if being careful not to have anyone hear them and, of course, outside of the school curriculum were both U.P. Alumni.
To note, there was no internet back then, and my mind was too young to understand the intricacies of a healthy debate. (and honestly, I was too pre-occupied with basketball and playing the guitar)
So, I stuck with what “I felt was right” by the authority of my relatives who raised me.
“The most dangerous thing you can do is to take any one impulse of your own nature and set it up as the thing you ought to follow at all costs. There’s not one of them which won’t make us into devils if we set it up as an absolute guide.” – C.S. Lewis
Therefore, for years I glorified Ferdinand Marcos and his New Society and would always defend his legacy, always using the same arguments of Marcos Loyalists like:
Marcos built this and built that.
It was Imelda’s fault and not Marcos’s on why there were problems at that time.
Marcos made the country rich.
Marcos made the country peaceful.
Marcos stopped the communists from overrunning the country.
Marcos cleaned everything, from trash to squatters.
Marcos was the most intelligent and the ablest President ever, and he was also a war hero.
The EDSA revolution happened, but it also made the country a total mess, compared to Marcos’ Philippine heaven.
EDSA Revolution has been just a ploy to replace Marcos and prop up Elite Rule.
All of our politicians steal from the country; at least Marcos made something out of it; see the buildings and bridges he built?
The country was the Tiger of Asia at the time of Marcos, but look at it now we are swimming in poverty.
(This list I would later see when Facebook (FB) came to light, being spread around and random people just sharing it)
You name it, I knew it. I can almost see myself joining this flash mob dance for Marcos’s birthday celebration.
The verbal arguments and demonizing of the Aquino’s to the victim-blaming the Marcoses towards communists and activists, I’ve used them.
I’ve used all of these arguments, most often successfully, influencing people around me and arguing them down, those people who had a minimal amount of information between their ears (technically like me but worse).
And to make it far worse, fate was on my side, as I can easily dismiss all that is negative in society at the time and point at the‘effectiveness of Martial Law’ in instilling ‘discipline.’
Because yes, the country is messed up no matter how one looks at it (only for me to find out it was primarily because of Marcos).
IT WAS THAT EASY; I GIVE PEOPLE A FALSE SENSE OF HISTORICAL GLORY AND ASSOCIATE IT WITH MARCOS.
Or perhaps because nobody bothered to correct me and challenge what I know.
So, I get it when Marcos apologists are the way they are, and it is because they weren’t born that way; it is because they were grown that way.
Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in. – Isaac Asimov
It became more evident that my fanaticism was based on the stories programmed within me by my family.
And because of this, it enabled me to deny any evidence unless I view history with an open mind minus the pre-suppositions.
It wasn’t easy; it entails thinking over a lot of things and swallowing my pride.
“Hold everything in your hands lightly, otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open.” – Corrie Ten Boom
And that is harder than most things to accept, especially for people to realize they made a mistake.
To admit and recognize that there is a problem with what I believe is painful, one might call it cathartic, and it also entails a lot of humility.
It is never too late to give up your prejudices – Henry David Thoreau
I soon realize that to be convinced of the merits of ML would also mean I would have to deny the atrocities and injustices that happened back then.
Consequently, it would also mean accepting all of them as “necessary.”
And that makes it an ultimate moral dilemma, not to mention a horrible case of cognitive dissonance.
I have to ask myself:
Who was Ferdinand Marcos?
Was ML moral?
Did these things (incarceration, tortures, disappearances, murders) happen? If so, why?
Why was Martial Law proclaimed in the first place?
Who benefited from Martial Law?
Why was there an EDSA insurrection?
Was EDSA insurrection necessary?
Who were Ninoy Aquino and his wife?
Who were the people who suffered under Martial Law, and what were their stories?
Why did people hate Marcos at that time?
What was the state of the country at that time?
If Marcos was so great, why can’t he control Imelda?
If Marcos was so great, why did these things (incarceration, tortures, disappearances, salvaging, murders) happen under his watch?
What was Marcos‘ reason for declaring ML, and why?
Did Marcos steal money from the country? If yes, how much? How did it affect our country in the short term and the long run?
If I was one of the victims of the abuses of Martial Law, what would I feel?
If one of my loved ones was a victim of ML, what would I think and feel?
If a family of mine got tortured, disappeared, and murdered by ML, would I continue to support it?
“WHY SHOULD I BELIEVE WHAT I BELIEVE ABOUT ML?”
I realize that I have to ask these questions and go where the evidence leads me.
I would have to look at the facts and evidence from outside of the country, from people and organizations that are not influenced by the political forces of the government.
I realize that I cannot just justify Martial Law based ONLY on my opinion because even though I may have the right to do so, I cannot have the right to have my facts.
“If someone is able to show me that what I think or do is not right, I will happily change, for I seek the truth, by which no one was ever truly harmed. It is the person who continues in his self-deception and ignorance who is harmed.” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
I have to find the truth, and the truth is, most, if not all, of the justifications I heard about the implementation of ML, can never hold water under intense scrutiny and solid evidence.
It would crumble philosophically, scientifically, morally, and ethically if one plans on getting at the bottom of it.
Some people say that Martial Law also did something good for the country despite its shortcomings.
I’m afraid I have to disagree.
It condones the idea that a physically and emotionally abusive husband is still a moral person as long as he provides for the family.
Unfortunately, I believed this kind of statement back then. For the life of me, I will do anything today in my capacity to stop the future generations in accepting the same.
So, Was Ferdinand Marcos The Best President Of All Time?
I think you already know the answer to this question.
Whether you consider yourself a “Marcos loyalist,” or a “Yellow supporter,” or neither, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr.’s legacy to the Filipino nation cannot be denied. He was more than consequential; his life (and death) truly shaped the nation. He was a driving force in Philippine politics.
But his life was also filled with controversy. And, in the age of post-truth, it’s sometimes hard to separate fact from misinformation. Let’s take a deep dive into some of the things surrounding Ninoy’s life.
Did Ninoy co-found the CPP-NPA-NDF?
It’s impossible to talk about Ninoy without talking about his strange relationship with Prof. Jose Maria Sison, founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
A lot of stories abound regarding his involvement with the CPP, ranging from him being a founding member, to a supporter, to even letting NPA cadres use Hacienda Luisita as a safe haven.ADVERTISEMENT – CONTINUE READING BELOW
The truth is slightly more complicated than that. Joma and Ninoy knew each other in the ’60s; that was true. Ninoy was an ambitious up-and-coming senator and Joma was making waves as a labor leader and chairman of Kabataang Makabayan.
The rest is hearsay. Ninoy did not have a hand in introducing Bernabe Buscayno, alias Commander Dante to Joma. Nor did Ninoy have any knowledge that Joma was Amado Guerrero, CPP chairman.
If anything, Ninoy being supported by the CPP was almost impossible, since Ninoy represented the very thing the CPP fought against: the old, land-owning bourgeois elite. As far as they were concerned, Ninoy and Marcos weren’t too different.
It might seem hard to imagine Ninoy being with anybody else besides Cory Aquino, but there was indeed a time when Ninoy was the most eligible bachelor in Tarlac.
Back in the 1950s, when Ninoy was a student at the University of the Philippines, he used to court none other than the former beauty queen, Imelda Romualdez. Not too far-fetched; the rich tend to flock together. In various interviews, Ninoy would recall Imelda was “the most beautiful woman” and “looked like the Virgin Mary.”
Of course, things didn’t work out. Imelda didn’t fall for Ninoy’s charms, calling him a bit too chatty. She would later meet and marry Ninoy’s Lonsi brod, Ferdinand Marcos, on May 1, 1954. Ninoy, for his part, would meet the daughter of the owner of Hacienda Luisita, Corazon Cojuangco, and get married in October of that same year.
Aside from being a communist, Ninoy was often branded as a tool of the CIA or, at least, a collaborator in some capacity. Different theories suppose that Ninoy contacted the CIA during his stay in the U.S., or soon after his marriage to Cory during their honeymoon, or shortly after he convinced Huk Supremo Luis Taruc to surrender.
In any case, CIA collaboration with Ninoy seemed unlikely. In a declassified report from the CIA, the agency referred to Ninoy as an “opportunist” who was “consumed with ambition to run the Philippines as President.” Hardly a sterling recommendation for a supposed agent. Ninoy has also been described as “unable to keep quiet,” making him an unlikely candidate for keeping secrets.
That said, CIA involvement in the Philippines is no secret. Agents have been involved in Philippine affairs since its “independence” in 1946. There were CIA agents in the Philippines, but maybe it wasn’t Ninoy.
Did you ever stop to think why Sabah is included on most Philippine maps? It’s because, during the Marcos dictatorship, the Philippines was asserting its claim to Sabah through the Sultanate of Sulu.
These days, Sabah isn’t as sore a point of contention as before, ever since Marcos’ 1977 promise to drop the claim (officially, the Philippines has yet to drop the claim); Malaysia and the Philippines have enjoyed warm relations since 1989.
But during the Marcos era, the Sabah claim and the government’s attempt to assert this claim through Operation Merdeka and the subsequent Jabidah massacre led to the severance of diplomatic ties between the two countries, and even the creation of the Moro National Liberation Front. And the person who led this expose? None other than Ninoy Aquino.
This has naturally led to accusations of Ninoy collaborating with Malaysia to try and topple the Marcos dictatorship. This, along with with a statement he made of promising to drop the Sabah claim if he became President, and a rumor about him “dying a Malaysian citizen” or co-founding the MNLF all contribute to theories of Ninoy being a Malaysian turncoat.
While some are true, such as the Jabidah Senate hearings and Ninoy’s promise of dropping the Sabah claim, rumors of him being a founding member of the MNLF or having a Malaysian passport are both false.
A note about Ninoy being a “naturalized Malaysian citizen”: This is proven untrue. Ninoy’s fake passport, which he used to enter the Philippines (named Marcial Bonifacio), was given to him by Jose Ampeso, who was vice consul in the Philippine Consulate in New Orleans. They were Philippine passports.
So who was Ninoy?
Ninoy Aquino was a lot of things. To some, he was a hero. To others, he represented the worst of the Filipino. Whether he was the beacon of democratic statesmanship or an opportunistic politician, it’s undeniable that he was instrumental in toppling the Marcos dictatorship.
It becomes important to us, as the people who live in the post-Ninoy generation, to learn how to read his actions. We have to learn from our past and make sure it doesn’t come back to haunt our present.
Ampeso, J. (2014, August 22) How Ninoy Aquino got his 2 passports in New Orleans. Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Rappler.com (2018, August 21) HOAX: ‘Ninoy Aquino died a Malaysian citizen’. Rappler.
Lopez, M. (2012, February 25) She might’ve been ‘Imelda Aquino’. Philstar.
Munda, C. (2017, January 20) CIA Report says Ninoy was an “opportunist” and was “consumed with ambition” to be President. Mindanation.
Sison, J. (2010, October 1) On Ninoy Aquino’s Relations with CPP & NPA. Jose Maria Sison.
Last January 2018, I had been helping my father clean when I discovered that he had Marcos propaganda with him. I was inspired by the discovery to read everything that Marcos had written, and then collate my insights about them through a short book. Of course, I also had to properly situate myself, so I also sought books that were a more sober analysis of the Martial Law era.
My father had a copy of Today’sRevolution: Democracy, and it was the first book I read from his oeuvre. It was Marcos’s attempt to leaven the idea of Martial Law to Filipinos, and I thought it was decent.
The first book I purchased, however, if I remembered correctly, was one volume of Marcos’s Tadhana (It was Volume Two, Part Two). I thought that it was serviceable as a history book (and found out later that year that UP scholars wrote it). However, I also discovered that it was leading toward a sort of synthesis, presumably the inexorability of Marcos’s rule. It was sold to me by a history teacher, Sir Marlon Riobuya — and we’re still friends to this day. He sold it to me at an affordable price because I was upfront with him: I told him that I sought to write about the pervasiveness of Marcos’s fraud, because it seemed to me that people had already forgotten about what he had done. In my little way, it was how I planned to pay my dues to history.
I had started my readings with Mijares’s Conjugal Dictatorship: it seemed to be the most popular book that exposed Marcos’s shortcomings during Martial Law. However, Mijares also had reason to besmirch Marcos’s name: to the analytical reader, the work might have been him sour graping. After all, prior to the exposé, Mijares was Marcos’s press relations man. I buttressed this with Belinda Aquino’s Politics of Plunder, and noticed similarities.
These were similarities that arose from James K. Boyce’s Political Economy of Growth and Impoverishment in the Marcos Era, Mark R. Thompson’s Anti-Marcos Struggle, Raymond Bonner’s Waltzing with a Dictator, William Rempel’s Delusions of a Dictator, and Charles McDougald’s Marcos File. All these books confirmed through copious evidence that Marcos was a thief, although he was smart enough to use his cronies to steal.
Back in October 2018, however, I was still starting my research. Because I accompanied my younger sister to a K-pop concert, I took the extra time I had to go around Recto and purchase whatever Marcosiana I could find. I had been very fortunate with one seller, because she was clearing out her shop and sold Five Years of the New Society and Notes on the New Society II at cheap prices.
I planned a chronological analysis on Marcos’s bibliography, and started reading and annotating his books that I gradually obtained. I used my salary to fund my research, and gradually obtained most of his penned works (except the other Tadhana books). I used Jacques Ellul’s Propaganda as the launching point of my work: he had, after all, written that “He who intends to establish a dictatorship always insists that his adversaries are bent on dictatorship.”
This was definitely the case with Marcos.
Last 2019, I was able to complete collecting nearly all book-length works attributed to Ferdinand Marcos (with the sole exception of The UN: 40 Years After).
I was also able to write short exegesis on the books that I had. Had there been no COVID-19 pandemic, I would have been able to publish a short tract.
Last week, however, I conversed with Ma’am Sibyl Jade Peña whose stepfather had worked with Adrian Cristobal in a think tank. It was from her that I was able to realize that Marcos didn’t even write his books! One of his last works, The Filipino Ideology, she stated, was written by Nilo Tayag.
Through her guidance, I was able to come across Miguel Paolo Reyes’s article Producing Marcos, The Scholarly Author. This article was published in Philippine Studies, and is an even more thorough exegesis of the books I had gradually collected over these past two years.
I had presumed that I would be able to attack Marcos’s words through a close exegesis of what he had written. My tragedy was that the books weren’t even written by Marcos in the first place!
Reyes’s article, backed by copious evidence, research, and interviews, pointed out that the author of both Today’s Revolution: Democracy and Notes on the New Society of the Philippines was Adrian Cristobal. In my unpublished work, I also noted of the repetitive nature of the works succeeding those two (i.e. everything after Notes on the New Society of the Philippines). Reyes further divided “Marcos’s” oeuvre into the Marcos Bibles (the two books mentioned in this paragraph), rehashed combinations, accomplishment briefers, The Filipino Ideology books, and books that were “bonus material.” While his categories were apropos and illuminating, he was unable to include Marcos Notes on the Cancun Summit, The New Philippine Republic, Dream of a Reformed Society and Other Speeches, and The UN: 40 Years After. (I’d say Cancun Summit and The UN belong to “bonus material,” while The New Philippine Republic belongs to the “accomplishment briefers” category.)
He made an excellent point regarding the publishing of these books: they often came as accompaniments to “major” occurrences within the regime (as The New Philippine Republic) was.
Anyway, the following are “Marcos” books written in chronological order (barring the few that I do not have).
New Filipinism: The Turning Point
This was simply Marcos’s SONA on January 27, 1969.
He was running for re-election on November that year. This was an earlier foray of Marcos in written media (with more obviously propagandistic works as Benjamin Gray’s Rendezvous with Destiny and Hartwell Spence’s Marcos of the Philippines). Like the rest of “his” works, this was written by his speechwriters and not by Marcos himself. At 118 pages, one knows that it was quite a prolix SONA. This could be categorized as the earliest example of Reyes’s “accomplishment bearers.”
It’s a rare book, which is why I am very grateful for Sir Christopher Bonoan for providing me his only copy. (He’d been kind in letting me purchase his Marcosiana, and he has been pivotal toward letting me have a more comprehensive understanding of Martial Law.)
2. Today’s Revolution: Democracy
This book is the most popular and well-circulated among all his propaganda. Reyes wrote of it as one of the Marcos bibles. It was Marcos (Adrian Cristobal, really) trying to float the idea of Martial Law as a recourse to “unbridled democracy.” Marcos had, after all, used his significant political and financial capital to buy many of the members of the 1971 Constitutional Convention to side with him. The massive bribery was exposed by Eduardo Quintero, who, due to his old age, really did not have much need for money. This book simply set the tone that would recur, not only through the later published books, but throughout Marcos’s reign: Marcos would say one thing, and often do another.
The First Quarter Storm of 1970 had already adumbrated Marcos’s lust for power: when Edgar Jopson and Portia Ilagan came to Malacañang, Marcos told them that he was uninterested in a third term. However, when he was dared by them to “put that down in writing,” Marcos called Jopson “a son of a grocer.”
3. Notes on the New Society of the Philippines
In Notes of the New Society, “Marcos” wrote: “The old society was, in the first place, the social and political elite manipulating what I called a precarious democracy of patronage, privilege, and personal aggrandizement.”
The novelty that Marcos had implemented in the “New Society” were Citizens’ Assemblies which were a “government of the people” through a show of hands. It didn’t matter that “Are you in favor with Marcos staying in power?” was replaced with the question “Are you hungry?” as long as the answer was yes. After all, all that was recorded were a show of hands, and people were hungry. These assemblies were prone to abuse, especially with Marcos having the backing of the military.
(I didn’t include Revolution from the Center since it was a rehash of this book, and I also no longer have a copy.)
4. Democratic Revolution of the Philippines
Aside from Sir Marlon Riobuya and Chris Bonoan, one of the people who supported me in my attempt to create an exegesis of Marcos’s texts was Sir Ruel Farol. He bequeathed me his first edition, hardbound copy of Democratic Revolution of the Philippines.
To my disappointment, however, the book was just a combination of what was written in Today’s Revolution and Notes of the New Society of the Philippines. This was still, clearly, Adrian Cristobal’s brainchild.
5. Notes on the New Society of the Philippines II: The Rebellion of the Poor
Reyes pointed out in his article one of the best examples regarding Marcos’s works being ghostwritten. After all, why would you erase your own work after it has already been typed? Further, these changes didn’t even end in the final work! If that’s not suspect, then it’s quite schizophrenic.
This book was another one of those “accomplishment bearers.” Reyes explained that it was just another one of Marcos’s re-written SONAs and attributes that Yen Makabenta was one of this book’s authors.
6. Five Years of the New Society
This was another one of his “accomplishment bearers” or apologias. In this book “he” wrote that: “What was promised and pledged by the presidency at the start of the crisis government — that our fundamental goal is the promotion of greater democracy and national unity — we now redeem.”
This was, of course, blatantly untrue. The Citizens’ Assemblies were a sham, and the judiciary was threatened by Marcos when he asked them to submit resignation letters. In essence, if Marcos disapproved of a judge’s decision, he could “accept” their resignation. He held the judiciary by their throats.
This book’s claim, thus, that “one of the most telling manifestations of civilian supremacy under crisis government was the continuing and independent operation of the Judiciary,” was thus a joke.
7. The Philippine Experience: A Perspective on Human Rights and the Rule of Law
While this is the rarest “Marcos” book, it’s really nothing more than an extension of one chapter of Democratic Revolution in the Philippines. This was released when Jimmy Carter’s officials went to the Philippines to assess the human rights situation as there had been international complaints. Through statistics, Marcos claimed that there were little human rights violations occurring in the Philippines, and that deviant members of the police and the military were already being punished.
Reyes showed that these errant policemen rose in number through “Marcos’s” later books.
An Introduction to the Politics of Transition and The New Philippine Republic were herald works similar to this one. These works presented to the world the façade of Martial Law being progressive and productive.
8. An Introduction to the Politics of Transition
This book was released concurrently with Marcos’s attempt at legitimizing his regime. In 1978, he allowed the elections for representatives of the Interim Batasang Pambansa, which was mandated in the 1973 Constitution he passed through his Citizen’s Assemblies. The result was expectedly rigged in favor of the Marcos’s party, the KBL.
However, Region VII (where Cebu belonged) showed promise, as it was swept by the Pusyon Bisaya party. Reuben Canoy (author of the brilliant Counterfeit Revolution in the Philippines) won one seat in Region X while representing Mindanao Alliance, and Ernesto Roldan won one seat in Region XII.
Reyes noted that this book was, outside of an introduction to parliamentary systems written by an undergraduate, made up of appendices. Personally, I liked reading portions of this book, because effort was actually made by the writer to come up with excuses for Marcos’s regime.
9. Towards a Filipino Ideology / An Ideology for Filipinos
These two books are almost alike. In my unpublished work, I only wrote a short chapter for both books, since An Ideology for Filipinos was merely a repackaged Towards a Filipino Ideology.
Reyes believed that these books were also Adrian Cristobal’s works. Towards a Filipino Ideology contained “Marcos’s” comments that “the right of free speech is meaningful only for the literate and the well-informed, just as the right to travel is meaningful only to those who have the means to travel.”
This was funny to me because media and the written word were heavily censored during the Martial Law regime. Celso Al. Carunungan was imprisoned because of his satirical Satanas sa Lupa. Finally, why was even such an enlightened mind as Jose Diokno not allowed free speech? Diokno was one of the people who had a higher score at the bar examinations than Marcos: he was also recognized to be a highly intelligent person. Why was he incarcerated instead?
10. In Search of Alternatives: The Third World in an Age of Crisis
This was “Marcos’s” attempt to distance his “constitutional authoritarianism” from being recognized as a dictatorship. By the early 1980s, inflation had rapidly risen because of the institutionalized corruption led by Marcos himself. The “smiling martial law” was to be the alternative from capitalism and communism: it was to be the Philippine alternative.
“Marcos” wrote: “Ours is the only authoritarian state, the only regime under Martial Law that has allowed its policies and programs to be questioned in open court … The Supreme Court has not been suppressed or dissolved.”
I previously mentioned that the Supreme Court during the Marcos regime was a stamp-pad court. Whatever Marcos decided, his lackeys in the judiciary would follow.
11. The New Philippine Republic: The Third World Approach to Democracy
This was the penultimate Marcos book I obtained (I had only obtained The UN: 40 Years After one month ago). I bought this copy from Sir Danilo Meneses, who also happened to support my pursuit of Martial Law history. This was not mentioned in Reyes’s article, but I would classify both as a “herald work,” and as an “accomplishment bearer.”
In 1981, under the guise of a sham election, Ferdinand Marcos defeated a retired general, Alejo Santos. Most of the opposition boycotted the elections due to the fraudulent turnout of the 1978 Interim Batasang Pambansa elections (as mentioned in a previous paragraph, the KBL won nearly all of the seats).
Marcos actually “ended” Martial Law on January 17, 1981. He called the termination of Martial Law as the inauguration of the New Republic, but retained presidential decrees and legislative power. The writ of habeas corpus was still suspended. Like Imelda Marcos’s whitewashed walls, the termination of Martial Law was a mere charade.
Funnily, one former Marcos supporter, Simeon del Rosario (who wrote How Martial Law Saved Democracy in the Philippines) ran against Marcos in the 1981 elections. Perhaps he too was disillusioned.
12. Progress and Martial Law
This was, among all the Marcosiana I’ve read, the one with the most amusing text.
It fabricated a reality where Aquino won in 1973 but struggled with communists and the economy — as he was not Marcos.
Like a horrible film, this book had “so bad, it’s fun” vibes. According to Reyes, this was released during the 1981 elections as supplementary campaign material.
James K. Boyce’s Political Economy of Growth and Impoverishment in the Marcos Era described the economy during the Marcos regime as creating “immiserizing growth:” basically, all infrastructure created through debt financing didn’t alleviate the suffering of the poor. In contrast, the gap between the rich and the poor got even wider.
13. Towards a Filipino Partnership: The Filipino Ideology
This book surprisingly came in different sizes. When this book was published, Ninoy Aquino had already been assassinated, and the economy suffered from massive inflation. One of the reasons was Marcos’s insistence of being inflexible with the price of copra. As a result, the world market searched for alternatives, and left the Philippines in the lurch.
I think this was Marcos’s last-ditch attempt to create legitimacy. He asks for patience, as “positive changes have already started.” The Philippines has yet to have inflation as bad as Marcos’s final years of dictatorship.
14. The Filipino Ideology
When I started writing my unpublished work, I planned to write individual chapters on each of the books I’ve read. It turned out that I had a short tract instead, because most of what “Marcos” published was recycled material. For instance, instead of writing a different chapter for Toward a New Partnership: The Filipino Ideology, I realized that there were few changes with this book to merit individual chapters.
In essence, this was just an edition of Adrian Cristobal’s work. As mentioned above, Sibyl Peña says that Nilo Tayag was an author of this edition, because her stepfather worked with Cristobal’s think tank.
15. The UN: 40 Years After
This book is more or less a straightforward explanation of UN’s evolution. This was not mentioned by Reyes in his article, but like most of his other works, this was definitely not written by Marcos himself. At the time this book was published (1985), Marcos was dying from lupus.
He would try to cheat one last time in the 1986 Snap Elections.
I have other books that were edited by Gregorio Cendaña or Kit Tatad (The Marcos Wit), but these are more obvious examples of ghost writing.
I sought to write an exegesis of all works that I believed were penned by Ferdinand Marcos, and was able to complete it. (In case you’re wondering, yes, I’m quite masochistic. While I haven’t finished The UN: 40 Years After yet, and don’t think New Filipinism should be included in Martial Law literature, I did read and finish the thirteen other books).
Reyes’s article, however, was so illuminating that I realized I had given Marcos too much credit!
The works pictured here were not even written by him. It was another one of his pretensions: Marcos wanted to be seen as superhuman. He wanted people to see that he was an extremely busy yet extremely capable man: over the span of his dictatorship he’d churn out one book a year on average.
To many people, this productivity was nothing sort of prodigious. After all, he had to balance governing the Philippines with his scholarly work!
I admit, I was also fooled. In my myopia, I sought to debunk the words that “he” had written by comparing what he wrote with sources that disagreed with the rosy picture he had painted. To do this, I consulted works from many authors, both local and foreign, to congeal a picture that I felt was closer to the truth. The consistency of the reportage of these other authors made me realize that the Marcos regime was thoroughly corrupt.
“Ferdinand Marcos the scholar” was merely a fraud perpetuated by a person who wanted to be seen as a demigod. Perhaps this is the reason why it is also so easy for his offspring to lie as well. After all, parents set examples for their children to emulate.
I spent tens of thousands of pesos looking for each book in his oeuvre, and hundreds of hours reading all his works. I was, indeed, able to complete an exegesis of his books only to realize much later that he never even wrote any of them in the first place!
My premise was inherently wrong. Nevertheless, I wanted to channel the time I spent to show people that Martial Law during the Marcos era wasn’t a pleasant time to live in. Although there was indeed lesser crime during its first few months, there was also a corresponding rise in human rights abuses and a severe curtailment of freedom. The law was biased towards those who had close ties with the Marcoses, because Marcos was the law.
We have been taught in school that plagiarism should never be done, and that we should always mention our preferences. Why should a corrupt dictator be excused?
Not only was Marcos one of the world’s biggest thieves — he was also actually one of the world’s worst plagiarists!
(Thanks go to Tinky Cruz, Prof. Danton Remoto, Janice Chiongson, Katherine Soledad, Mon Castigador, Kenneth Idio, Ernest Nufuar, Eleazar Galanto, and Rechelyn Abenoja for their support. Thanks also go to my siblings and parents.
Every September, the Philippines remembers one of the darkest chapters in its history when the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos declared Martial Law in 1972.
Remembering Martial Law in the Philippines has always been a challenge. There are many reasons for this, with the late Jesuit sociologist Fr. John Carroll, S.J noting the Philippine’s lack of collective conscience and the solidarity of the elite, to which Marcos and his cronies belonged. On my part though, I will focus on a couple of factors that are closer to my area of work and experience: the failure of the educational system, and battle for memory in social media.
For the longest time, basic education has been the battleground for institutional memory for Martial Law, both in its representation in textbooks and how it was taught in class discussions. Historians and educators have long called for improvement in textbook writing in basic education, especially when it comes to the contentious topic of Martial Law. Some textbooks, for example, overly highlight the perceived achievements of the Marcos regime when it comes to infrastructure development.
Several Marcos “myths” and other historically inaccurate assertions sometimes still find their way in books. In one textbook I reviewed, I noted how the writers copied an erroneous assertion from a heavily criticized post from the Official Gazette in September 11, 2016, which claimed that Marcos “stepped down” from the presidency, instead of being ousted by the 1986 People Power Revolution. The government’s communications department eventually edited that post.
More than the treatment in textbooks and discussions, there is also a prevailing problem when it comes to access to history education in the Philippines. In the educational reforms in 2013, Philippine History was removed from the high school curriculum.
This left Filipino students with only two opportunities to learn Philippine history: in grade six when they are just eleven years old, or in their first year in college, should they wish to pursue learning in higher education institutions (HEI).
However, the participation rate of Filipinos in HEI is only at 33%, meaning that two out of three Filipinos will not get a mature discussion of Philippine history. Seeing the need for greater access to learning Philippine history, several groups lobbied for Philippine History to be included again in the high school curriculum.
The battle for memory has also transcended the classroom in this age of social media. While Marcos apologists and historical revisionist have yet to engage social scientists in scholarly publications, pro-Marcos revisionist videos abound in social media. This is particularly potent and dangerous for a nation that has suffered from fake news proliferation in Facebook and related sites in the last five years.
The importance of properly remembering this period is becoming more urgent given the political climate in the country, with President Rodrigo Duterte being a close ally of the Marcoses, and even making possible the dictator’s burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery). Just as alarming are the President’s Marcosian measures which have also been noted by human rights organizations and heavily criticized and opposed by civil society groups.
The pandemic has given new opportunities for learning, though. Given the six-month quarantine, many opportunities for learning have become available online. Educators, activists, historians and other social scientists have worked together this month to provide free webinars that make historical discussions more accessible to other educators and students.
Many of the webinars for example, tackled different aspects of Martial Law, with some zeroing in on historical revisionism. It was also announced this week that the Philippines will finally be having its first state-sponsored museum dedicated to remembering Martial Law.
The challenge of remembering this critical period in Philippine history has never been greater, especially in this age of social media and pandemic. But the challenge must be faced, both for historical accuracy and justice.
It is also important for the Philippine’s integrity as a nation since its Constitution highlights the values of human rights, democracy and social justice; values taken away from the Filipino people during the dark days of Martial Law.
TWENTY YEARS since fleeing the country in disgrace, Imelda Marcos — the glittering, partying, mesmerizing half of what has been called a conjugal dictatorship — still loves to go shopping. But alas, no longer at Tiffany’s.
With dozens of pending court cases, her foreign trips have been severely curtailed. Park Avenue will have to wait, as Imelda now goes where the Pinoy hoi polloi congregate, roughing it up in all her finery (pouf hairdo, outsized jewelry, and of course the shoes, the fabulous shoes) in such down-market places as 168 Mall in Binondo and Market!Market! in Fort Bonifacio.
“One of my big joys of going to 168, Market! Market!, the sari-sari store, or the flea market is because it makes me happy to see people, it enriches me,” she says giddily, like a little girl. “I feel so good being so accepted by them and hugged by them and kissed by them. And everybody wants to have a picture. I’m so complimented…When I go shopping I’m not really shopping for things, I’m really shopping for love.”
Even today no one says it like Imelda. No one does it like Imelda. Whatever we may think of her, she is an original. No one like her had appeared on our stage before, and no one has upstaged her since.
Although the signs of age and wear are there — she is, after all, 76 years old — she is still quotable, still fabulous, still so out of this world.
Until now, no one can propel us to the heights of hyper-reality as Imelda can. No one else can be so reviled as a symbol of extravagance and excess, while also remaining so appealing. For deep in the Pinoy soul is a sensibility as baroque as Imelda’s (just look at the jeepney), a flair for drama as flamboyant, and a craving for acceptance as desperate as hers.
This is why, even though we know all about her and she is more caricature than real, she remains an irresistible spectacle, a natural crowd drawer. She is still a star. Take it from her: “I try to be a star only because I want to be a light in the dark of the night, to give people hope and to give them the faith that if you can think it, you can make it, if you can dream it, it can be real. That’s my life.”
Indeed it is. One reason for Imelda’s enduring appeal is that she is Cinderella. We are suckers for rags-to-riches stories, for escapist fairy tales that help us deal with harsh reality.
The orphan Imelda grew up in a garage and became the stunningly beautiful young woman who landed in Manila with only P5 in her wallet. Snubbed by the Manila elite, she bagged the country’s most eligible bachelor, rising to become, before the fall of the House of Marcos, the most powerful woman in the country and one of the richest in the world.
In her prime, she rubbed elbows with Mao Zedong, Andrei Gromyko, and Muammar Khaddafy. The Reagans were close friends, as were assorted monarchs, movie stars, and millionaires. She shopped, she partied, she built.
Her edifice complex was as legendary as her buying sprees. She also dazzled. She organized beauty contests, film festivals, and cultural pageants. She may have kept us poor, but also vastly entertained.
She knew, long before the likes of Joseph Estrada and Ramon Revilla ended up in high public office, that politics is as much about entertainment and illusion as it is about money and power.
In 2004, Transparency International gave the Marcoses the distinction of being the second most corrupt leaders in the world in the past 20 years, next only to the Soehartos of Indonesia.
The Marcos personal fortune was estimated to be between $5 billion to $10 billion. Critics say the Marcos kleptocracy robbed Filipinos blind and kept them in the dark by muzzling the press and clamping down on dissenters.
Yet despite the ignominy of their fall, the Marcoses today are not pariahs. She may have lost her half-serious bids for the presidency in 1992 and 1998, but Imelda was elected Leyte representative in 1995. Her daughter Imee is on her third term in Congress and son Ferdinand Jr. or Bong-bong is Ilocos Norte governor.
They are also hardly paupers, even if they lost a $600-million account in a Swiss bank in a lawsuit in the United States, and the government has confiscated some of their properties, including buildings in New York.
Imelda herself continues to live in style, ensconced in an Ayala Avenue penthouse packed with mementoes of her past life and overflowing with the opulence and tackiness she loves. She still parties, attends concerts, and turns heads when she walks regally, guiltlessly, into a hotel lobby.
Much more than fairy tale, the life and times of Imelda Marcos is as much a fable on the capriciousness of human destiny as it is the sad story of how Filipinos have failed so dismally to bring to justice those who had so wronged them.
OF COURSE Imelda doesn’t see it that way. She believes it is she who has been wronged. “Edsa,” she says, “was really the .ght against Marcos of the feudal lords, the oligarchs, the clerico-fascists, and the neocolonialists.” Washington, she says, was not pleased with Marcos, who reduced the tenure of its bases in the Philippines to 25 years.
The rich wanted him out, too, because he implemented land reform and limited their privileges. “It was not the poor” who wanted Marcos out, insists Imelda, but more privileged Filipinos who were taken in by unfair media reports.
“They hired 16 top PR firms of the world f5rst to promote Cory and destroy the Marcoses,” she says. “They did a good job of it because the media is more powerful than the gun. The gun can kill you only up to your grave but the media can kill you beyond the grave unto in.nity.”
Yet for Imelda, eternally the positive thinker, Marcos’s fall was also his greatest triumph. “For me, the greatest moment of Marcos was Edsa,” she says. “This powerful man with all his power, he did not use that power to kill…The fault of Marcos was he loved his country so much.”
For sure there has been more than some editing of history here — as indeed in much of what Imelda remembers. Marcos didn’t kill only because the soldiers manning the tanks and the pilots flying the helicopter gunships over the military camps refused to fire at the Edsa crowd.
Despite her selective memory, the events of February 1986 and the painful period that followed remain deeply etched in Imelda’s mind. “My most vivid memories of those days and the days and the years after,” she says, “I never could imagine that our own government, even our allies, friends, and foes, could be so cruel and inhuman.”
“I asked Marcos,” she continues, delivering this practiced monologue with great feeling, even if the lines seem to have been snitched from a bad play. “I said, ‘Ferdinand you are a brilliant man, you are a man of vision and foresight, did you not foresee this?’ He said, ‘Imelda, man can only foresee so far and prepare so far. Beyond that is divine will and destiny. Never argue with destiny. Just be on top of it.’
“But then I said, ‘Ferdinand, we are facing the mightiest sword of justice of the most powerful country in the world. We were in Hawaii, in exile, what chance do we have? We were penniless, countryless. What chance do we have?’ He said, ‘Imelda, fear not. All our lives we’re committed to the side of the right. Like the sun will rise tomorrow, the truth will set us free. And if you are on the side of right, God is on the side of the right, and if God is on your side, who can be against you?
“‘But Ferdinand we have so many cases against us.’ And he said, “Fear not, Imelda, exaggeration is a form of falsification.’ ‘But Ferdinand,’ I said, ‘one case alone has 350,000 documents, 100 witnesses, and America spent $60 million against me.’ He said, ‘Fear not, Imelda. Truth is like a diamond. The more you chop it, the more brilliant it will become.’ How true, how true. Truth is like a diamond. The more you chop it, the more brilliant it will become.”
TWENTY YEARS after Edsa, Imelda is still the country’s foremost drama queen. Her voice breaks and tears well up in her eyes when she remembers her husband, whose corpse remains unburied in a mausoleum in his hometown of Batac, Ilocos Norte since his death in Honolulu in 1989.
Imelda has refused to inter him until he is given a hero’s burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. So he lies in state still, waxed and preserved like one of the figures at Madame Tussaud’s.
“He is so visited,” gushes Imelda. “When he was alive, he was not as visited as now that he is dead. There are thousands there visiting him. And he is so nicely placed there, like sleeping only. In fact no less than a friend of his, (sugar baron Roberto) Benedicto, said to me, ‘Mrs. Marcos, you have so many projects, but this is the best of all.’”
Ferdinand Marcos’s passing saved him the indignity of undergoing trial in New York for mail fraud, fraudulent misappropriation of property, and obstruction of justice.
Instead, the newly widowed Imelda had to face the bar of justice alone in March 1990. With an expensive and colorful American lawyer arguing her defense and the support of high-society friends like tobacco heiress Doris Duke, Imelda stood trial with as much histrionics as she could muster.
She was acquitted in July 1990, largely because there was no evidence linking her directly to the charges (there was evidence against Ferdinand, but he was dead and he took the brunt of the blame).
The following year, a triumphant Imelda returned to the Philippines and in 1992 made an audacious try for the presidency. Only six years after their fall, the rehabilitation of the Marcoses was well underway.
They were not alone. The cases filed against Marcos cronies have either been dismissed or snowed under by years of half-hearted litigation. The governments that came after Marcos showed a lack of will and resolve to prosecute the ousted president and his associates; some of those tasked with chasing after ill-gotten wealth have themselves even been accused of corruption.
Over the years, most of the cronies who had followed the Marcoses in exile also returned to the Philippines. Some, like Benedicto and Davao banana magnate Antonio Floirendo, entered into compromise agreements with the Aquino government.
Others like coconut and beer tycoon Eduardo ‘Danding’ Cojuangco Jr. are still contesting their ownership of shares in companies. Cojuangco himself is back at the helm of the prized San Miguel Corp. despite pending lawsuits.
And as if to further demonstrate that history runs in circles, the $600 million from the Marcos account in a Swiss bank that had been turned over to the government in 2003 appears to have again been stolen.
Last year, farmers’ groups accused the Arroyo government of using funds recovered from the Swiss account to bankroll the current president’s 2004 campaign.
In 1994, a Hawaii court did find Marcos responsible for the executions, disappearances, and torture during his regime, and awarded $2 billion in damages to surviving victims of such human-rights abuses.
The victims later agreed to a $150-million settlement but the case remains tied up in litigation, this time with the Philippine government, which is asserting its primary right to the Marcos wealth. Meanwhile, despite the barrage of lawsuits, Imelda has not had a conviction affirmed by the Philippine Supreme Court.
There is therefore reason for her to feel vindicated and to think she can still do something grand for Filipinos, like opening a deuterium mine to solve all our energy problems or building a tunnel that will link the Pacific Ocean to the China Sea.
She knows she still holds powerful sway not only on the imagination of Filipinos, but of others as well. Later this year, British DJ Fatboy Slim and Talking Heads singer David Byrne will open a new musical (yet another) on Imelda.
“I don’t know if (Filipinos) love me,” she says, “but they surely do not hate me.”
And her husband? “Marcos,” she says with certainty, “is now being more and more missed.” — Sheila S. Coronel