The Martial Law of 1972 declared by the president that time Ferdinand Marcos is controversial in a lot of ways. The reported abuse and torture of the Filipinos, monopolies, company takeovers, and stolen wealth – the stories are quite shocking and sadly some people would rather see the improbability of it.

When people have difficulty believing the extent of the stories, numbers can help. However, we can never, ever put a price to the lives that was lost and the tortures the survivors endured. What they’ve undergone are priceless. No amount of money will ever equate to their sacrifices. You can never take back the lives, their dreams, their sacrifices.

But with the stolen wealth – we can indeed put a price on that. To visualize how much the Marcos Family acquired the Martial Law, let’s put a figure to their lifestyle.

How much did Ferdinand Marcos earn in the first place? It was reported that all those years in rule, Marcos never made more than USD 13,500 a year. And it follows that your family should live a lifestyle well within your means.

However, with the Marcoses it wasn’t the case. Let us begin with Ferdinand Marcos’ wife, Imelda. Imelda isn’t shy with her purchases. She would be known for her love for beautiful things. Her purchases show that she doesn’t just adore things of beauty she loves luxury as well.


Imelda Marcos shoe collection


In 1978 when she was in New York, she spent money on Bulgari jewelry and her total bill was at USD 1.43 million. Included in the purchases was a bracelet costing USD 1.15 million. The estimated value of her jewelry collection is at USD 8 million.

She is known for shopping all over the world and one of her infamous shopping sprees was when she spent USD 7 million within 90 days in New York, Rome, and Copenhagen.

How did Imelda afford all of this? Ferdinand Marcos controlled the nation’s biggest industries and placed them under monopoly and took over the largest companies – that gave him access to a very large coffer.

And what he had “earned” (a debatable term) he placed them in Swiss deposit banks and invested on shares. If he was doing things legally, why does he need to have offshore accounts? Or purchase shares under dummy firms?

PCGG or the Presidential Commission on Good Governance, an agency formed after the Martial law whose duty is to recover the stolen wealth were able to take back Php 35 billion from the Swiss deposit accounts of the Marcoses.

The PCGG also was able to recover Php 27.3 billion worth of shares from PLDT (Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co.).

And it didn’t end here. These are just a few samples of their big ticket purchases and what they have stolen. The total estimated amount they have stolen from the nation is at USD 10 billion and around USD 3.7 billion has been recovered by PCGG so far.

Needless to say, the figures mentioned were staggering. The anguish caused by Martial Law will be never have a price but the stolen wealth – it’s USD 10 billion.

The brazenness of stealing from your own country is still unimaginable – but it happened nonetheless. Every Filipino must know this and this amount should be returned to its rightful owner – our country.


Janvic Mateo, “P170-B ill-gotten wealth recovered from Marcoses, cronies,”, (February 25, 2016).

“VIRAL: Imelda’s multi-million dollar Bulgari jewelry bill,”, (May 13, 2016).

Roger Wolmuth, “The Imelda Marcos Shopping Guide: a Cache ‘n’ Carry Way to Spend the Fortunes of a Nation,”, (April 7, 1986)

Nick Davies, “The $10bn question: what happened to the Marcos millions?,”, (May 7, 2016).

Ana Roa, “Regime of Marcoses, cronies, kleptocracy,”, (September 29, 2014).