'They Didn't Only Hoard Shoes'

(This is a November 30, 2012 essay of Juan L. Mercado for the Philippine Daily Inquirer.)


“THEY DIDN’T only hoard shoes,” Daily Telegraph culture editor Martin Chilton wrote. “Former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos and wife Imelda amassed an art collection, paid for with stolen funds.” Today, 146 masterpieces—including works by Van Gogh, Renoir, Rembrandt, Cezanne, Magritte and Brueghel the Younger—are missing.

The Manhattan District Attorney has indicted Imelda Marcos’ former personal secretary and two nephews—Vilma Bautista, now 74, and nephews Chaiyot Jansen, 37, and Pongsak, 40, both surnamed Navalaksana—for selling Claude Monet’s “Le Bassin aux Nymphéas” for $32 million. The London buyer had reservations on who the real owners were, according to the indictment. The Monet sale went through on Sept. 14, 2010.

From the proceeds, Bautista funneled $28 million into her bank account. Two real estate brokers got a $4-million commission and a $5-million slab went to the two nephews. “Chaiyot … sent an e-mail, after the sale, to a coconspirator, saying his aunt wanted him to meet with his brother to give him a bundle of caaaaaaaaassshhhh,” the indictment added.

Bautista, who now walks with a cane, is also accused of peddling: Monet’s “L’Église et La Seine à Vétheuil” (1881), Alfred Sisley’s “Langland Bay” (1887), and Albert Marquet’s “Le Cyprès de Djenan Sidi Said” (1946), known as “Algerian View.”

Aunt and nephews face conspiracy raps. Lodged against Bautista and Chaiyot is a charge of failing to report income from the Monet sale. Released on a $175,000 bond, Bautista faces up to 25 years in prison. If convicted, her nephews could get four years in the slammer. Will authorities succeed in getting them to New York from Bangkok?

Newspapers from the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong, Honolulu Star Advertiser, to Brisbane Times reported the indictments. “Much of the bounty and privilege the Marcoses acquired in years of power … disappeared with the fog of revolution,” the Australian daily said.

From 1966 to 1986, Bautista held a $3,000-a-month first-secretary post at the Philippine Mission to the United Nations. In fact, she served as Imelda’s eyes and ears and factotum for Marcos functions at the 16-bedroom Lindenmere house on Long Island. She acted as bag lady for “shopping sprees.”

This Oct. 13, 1977, entry appears in “Chronology of the Marcos Plunder” compiled by Charlie Avila: “Today, after addressing the UN General Assembly, Imelda celebrated by going shopping and spending $384,000 including $50,000 for a platinum bracelet with rubies; $50,000 for a diamond bracelet; and $58,000 for a pin set with diamonds. The day before, Vilma Bautista, one of her private secretaries, paid $18,500 for a gold pendant with diamonds and emeralds; $9,450 for a gold ring with diamonds and emeralds; and $4,800 for a gold and diamond necklace.”

A US federal court (9th Circuit) earlier whacked Imelda and her son Ferdinand Jr. (Bongbong) with a daily fine of $100,000. They tried to secretly ship out of the United States paintings and other artworks, from court-contested holdings, for a 25-percent, tax-free share. When the contempt order expired, the tab totaled $353.6 million.

Where do Vilma Bautista and nephews come from? To understand, browse through “A Dynasty on Steroids” written by Jackie Dent, available on the Net.

“Dry, sleepy, tobacco-growing Ilocos Norte remains Marcos territory, as it has been since 1949”—although the Marcos regime killed more than 3,200 people, tortured 35,000, and incarcerated 70,000. That surpassed even the brutality of Chile’s Augusto Pinochet.

The Laurel clan runs Batangas, the Osmeñas (used to monopolize) Cebu, etc. Do the Marcoses merely perpetuate the oligarchic politics that plagues the country? “I always find ‘return to politics’ a misnomer,” Ferdinand Jr. snaps. “We never left.” Or, as Imelda’s daughter Imee remarks drolly: “It is nepotism plus plus, a dynasty on steroids.”

Does a Marcos have to run all the time? “It’s the whole Filipino system—they really count on you, they have all these expectations,” Imee says. “Your family is taking care of their family, which is taking care of your family, and it just goes on and on and on. It’s pretty feudal in the Philippines still, even though we like to fool ourselves.”

That includes Bongbong? “He seems to think that his family did nothing wrong and has nothing to apologize for. He says they have either won cases or they have been dismissed… We have a judgment against us in the billions. What more would people want? That we open our veins and die before them? Is that the solution? … History will be the best judge of the family.”

Benito Mussolini was executed outside an Italian villa; Gaddafi died in the desert, killed by rebels; Robert Mugabe and Castro will probably die in power. “Why are Filipinos so willing to embrace the Marcos family again?” Dent wonders.

Filipinos have a “soft, forgiving culture,” notes former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew in his book “From Third World to First”—“Only in the Philippines could a leader like Ferdinand Marcos, who pillaged his country for over 20 years, still be considered for a national burial. Insignificant amounts of the loot have been recovered, yet his wife and children were allowed to return and engage in politics.”

“Your brother [Bongbong] says that politics is the national sport here,” Dent tells Imee. She replies: “It’s not very sporting, though. No fair play, no rules, very movable goal posts. Not quite right as a sport. It is better as something else. Vaudeville, maybe?”

Spell that as caaaaaaaaassshhhh.

The Return of the Marcos Nightmare

(Here's a repost of Amando Doronila's Inquirer column last October 19, 2015 which was also published in StraitsTimes.)

(INQUIRER CAPTION) VP HOPEFUL Controversial politicians (from left), former first lady and now Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile (right), raise the hands of Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos. Bongbong declared his vice presidential bid during a proclamation rally in Intramuros, Manila, on Saturday. RAFFY LERMA/INQUIRER

(INQUIRER CAPTION) VP HOPEFUL Controversial politicians (from left), former first lady and now Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile (right), raise the hands of Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos. Bongbong declared his vice presidential bid during a proclamation rally in Intramuros, Manila, on Saturday. RAFFY LERMA/INQUIRER

ON SEPT. 23, the 43rd anniversary of the declaration of martial law in the Philippines by President Ferdinand Marcos, Filipinos were stunned to read on the front page of their newspapers, flaunting the picture of the leading functionaries of the martial law regime assembled on a stage, that Sen. Bongbong Marcos, the dictator’s son, was running for the vice presidency in the 2016 elections.

The picture showed former first lady Imelda Marcos and former Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile, the martial law administrator, gloating and unrepentant for their roles in that darkest hour of Philippine democracy.

It was a wrong time for the Marcos heirs to reappear in the spotlight, and for Bongbong Marcos to proclaim his vice presidential bid. Their return to the front page was a cynical display of their attempt to revise the history of martial law, rehabilitate their image and blot the stigma of martial rule on the Marcos regime.

To most Filipinos who suffered the rigors of the dictatorship for 14 years, the imposition of martial law was a day of infamy, not an event to remember with triumphalist commemoration by the Marcos family and their cohorts.


Outside of that stage, memories of the victims of atrocities and abuses of the military-backed regime flooded the press, speaking of the realities under martial law.

Nothing could match the contempt and insensitivity of the Marcos heirs to the democratic tradition than their own commemoration of the event in which they announced they were back on the center stage of Philippine politics, returning from disgrace and exile in Hawaii after they had been driven out by the Edsa People Power Revolution of 1986, with impunity and without being punished for the colossal corruption and pillage of the nation’s wealth and for the deaths of and atrocities committed against thousands of regime opponents, both from the left and the center.

In the presentation of Bongbong’s aspirations for no less than the second-highest office in the land, the Marcos family swept under the carpet all the sordid records of human rights abuses and violations and judicial investigations into the looting and “crony capitalism” of the martial law regime.

History falsified

The first fraud foisted by Marcos on the Filipino people when he imposed martial law to launch his New Society, against the background of military marches, was that he falsified history. He signed Proclamation No. 1081 on Sept. 21, l972, placing the Philippines under martial law. The proclamation was announced on national television on Sept. 23. By that time, troops had raided and shut down Congress and newspaper offices and arrested 200 targets, mostly opposition leaders and critical journalists.

Throughout the martial law period, Marcos perpetuated the myth that Sept. 21 was the date of the foundation of his New Society. The propaganda effort succeeded in deluding the Filipino people that martial law was proclaimed on Sept. 21, 1972. It was not.

In reality, a week before the actual declaration, a number of people, including journalists, had received information that Marcos had already drawn up a plan to completely take over the government and gain absolute power.

In fact, Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr., in a privilege speech on Sept. 13, exposed what he called Oplan Sagittarius. He disclosed that he had received a top secret plan by Marcos to place Metro Manila and outlying areas under control of the Philippine Constabulary as a prelude to martial law.

Marcos was going to use a series of bombings in Metro Manila, including the 1971 Plaza Miranda bombing, as justification for his takeover and subsequent authoritarian rule. In his diaries, Marcos wrote on Sept. 14, 1972, that he informed the military that he would proceed with the proclamation of martial law. The US Embassy knew as early as Sept. 17 about Marcos’ plans.

Martial law study

In his memoir, then Justice Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile recalled that on a late afternoon in December 1969, Marcos instructed him to study the presidential powers as Commander in Chief under the 1935 Constitution. Marcos made the instruction as he “foresaw” the “escalation of violence and disorder in the country.” He ordered that the “study must be done discreetly and confidentiality.”

At about the same time, Marcos also instructed Executive Secretary Alejandro Melchor and Brig. Gen. Jose Almonte to study how martial law was implemented in different parts of the world. Marcos wanted to know the consequences of declaring martial law. The result of their study stated that “while martial law may accelerate development, in the end, the Philippines would become a political archipelago, with debilitating, factionalized politics.”

Almonte recalled that the findings led to the conclusion that “the nation would be destroyed because, apart from the divisiveness it would cause, martial law would offer Marcos absolute power, which would corrupt absolutely.”

By the end of January 1970, Enrile, with the help of Efren Plana and Minerva Gonzaga Reyes, submitted the only copy of the confidential report on the legal aspects and extent of martial law to Marcos. A week later, Marcos summoned Enrile and instructed him to prepare the documents for the implementation of martial law.

On May 8, 1972, Marcos wrote that he had instructed the military to update its plans, including the list of personalities to be arrested, and had met with Enrile to finalize the paperwork.

On Aug. 1, 1972, Marcos met with a few of his most trusted military commanders to discuss tentative dates for the declaration of martial law—to fall within the next two months. The dates they considered either ended in 7 or were divisible by 7, which Marcos considered his lucky number.

Boying Pimentel: Filipinos Remembering Why We Need to Say #NeverAgain

(This is a repost of the Boying Pimentel's Inquirer column titled "Never Again is not just about Marcos". Photo from J. A. Ellao of Bulatlat.)


Bongbong Marcos’ bid to become vice president turned the spotlight on the slogan many Filipinos embraced after the fall of his late father’s dictatorship: “Never Again.”

Some views on this battle cry have been downbeat.

“We can’t really say #NeverAgain to something that never went away in the first place,” the novelist Clinton Palanca wrote in Spot.PH.

Inquirer columnist Oscar Franklin Tan in a column that he calls a parody of and homage to my essay, “To young Filipinos who never knew martial law and dictatorship” — Oscar’s title was “To old Filipinos who never knew martial law and dictatorship” — argued, “‘Never Again’ is merely rejection. It is incomplete because it builds nothing and leaves revisionism and disenchantment to fill the void. “

We’ll circle back to these viewpoints later. But first, a reminder: “Never Again” is not a Filipino original. We borrowed it from other nations.

In fact, two weeks after Bongbong’s announcement, news broke on two countries where “Never Again” is an even more powerful battle cry.

Reacting to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bizarre suggestion that Arab Muslims were, in fact, responsible for the Holocaust, German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared: “We know that responsibility for this crime against humanity is German and very much our own.”

“This is taught in German schools for good reason, it must never be forgotten and I see no reason to change our view of history in any way,” she added.

In Germany, the Philippines and other countries, “Never Again” is about painful histories that must never be forgotten.

At the former Dachau concentration camp in Germany, “Never Again,” written in five languages, is emblazoned on one wall of the former concentration camp, a reminder of six million people murdered by the Nazis.

In Argentina, the “Nunca Mas” or “Never Again” Report released in 1983 documented the reign of terror of military dictatorship in the 1970s and 1980s.

In Brazil, where military regimes tortured and abused thousands, including current President Dilma Rousseff, a human rights group working on behalf of victims and their families calls itself Grupo Tortura Nunca Mas — Torture Never Again.

“Never Again” became popular shortly after Marcos was overthrown in the popular uprising in 1986. The Marcos nightmare has been documented in books and documentaries.

In 1992, a memorial center honoring the victims of the Marcos dictatorship and those who led and joined the fight against the regime opened in Quezon City.

The Bantayog ng Mga Bayani — Monument to the Heroes — features a black granite, called the Wall of Remembrance, where the names of hundreds of heroes and martyrs are inscribed.

“We shall proclaim our firm resolve to keep faith with our martyrs and heroes and our deepest conviction that this land of the morning, the repository of our hopes and dreams, is worth living for and dying for,” Jovito Salonga, one of the prominent leader of the anti-dictatorship struggle and one of Bantayog’s founders, said.

On the Bantayog site, one of the links to the museum’s articles reads: “Never Forget.”

Bongbong Marcos wants Filipinos to forget.

In fact, he wants to go beyond forgetting: Marcos Jr. denies that the reign of terror ever happened.

Which is why his candidacy is both a threat and an opportunity.

I fully endorse the view that we should not blame children for their parent’s crimes. Bongbong has the right to say, “I’m not my father.”

But he’s gone beyond that many times. He has painted the Marcos years as a time of peace, prosperity and happiness, smugly rejects allegations of torture and plunder during the 21 years when his father was in power.

Bongbong Marcos is waging a campaign based on distortions and denial of a dark chapter when one ruler enjoyed absolute power.

If we forget that, it could happen again.

And I’m not talking about the return to power of anyone named Marcos. “Never Again” is not just about Marcos. It’s not just about one family.

It’s about keeping alive the most important lesson of the Marcos regime: That we should not readily believe individuals or political forces seeking absolute power, arguing that only they have the answers to the country’s problems.

Which brings us back to Palanca’s argument that #NeverAgain refers to a family, a problem, a curse that never went away.

That’s not really true. Yes, The roots of the problem, the system that made it possible for a Marcos to grab power and abuse it for two decades, are still there.

But something despicable did go away, something awful did end when Marcos fell: fascist rule.

This is a point we need to stress, especially to young Filipinos: Marcos enjoyed absolute power. He and his allies could do anything during the regime.

And we ended that. We defeated a fascist ruler. We ended a system in which one man and his cohort could get away with murder and plunder.

It’s true that corruption, political abuse and poverty did not end with the fall of Marcos.

But there’s one thing we’ve never had to endure since the dictator was ousted: We never had to deal with a leader who held on to power for more than 20 years and who assumed he could stay in power forever.

We’ve never had to deal with a president who rigged one election after another, who shut down newspapers and TV stations simply because he didn’t like what they were saying about him, who arbitrarily threw critics of his regime in prison and who was so full of himself he had a giant bust of himself built on a major highway.

We defeated a tyrant and a bully and we need to defend that the victory. We need to hold that line.

Otherwise it could happen again.

Oscar Franklin Tan called “Never Again” incomplete, saying, “it builds nothing and leaves revisionism and disenchantment to fill the void.” Hard to argue with that, despite the efforts of such organizations as Bantayog ng Mga Bayani, not enough has been done to explain what Marcos did to the country, especially to the youth.

“And it is our fault; we are to blame,” Palanca wrote. “The fault is ours for not telling the story of the nightmares of dictatorship as thoroughly as we should have.”

But as I said, Bongbong’s “my-father’s-murderous-reign-didn’t-really- happen” campaign is also an opportunity.

The phrase “Martial Law” trended on Twitter the week he announced his candidacy. Membership in the Never Again site on Facebook has risen sharply,

In social media and beyond, Marcos Jr.’s bid for power has turned the spotlight on the way Marcos Sr. abused his power.

Instead of forgetting, Filipinos are remembering why we still need to say, “Never Again.”

Return of the Undead

(This post is from Luis Teodoro's Vantage Point column at Business World and also posted in Bulatlat. This photo on the other hand is of a mural at the Hiraya Gallery.)

Mural Martial Law

Filipinos will mark the day of the dead — All Saints’ Day — this Sunday. Thanks to the power of the media, it’s a holiday whose eve is morphing into a mongrel version of Halloween, as that Western tradition has been portrayed in Hollywood movies and TV shows.

The children of middle class and wealthy families now go out on “trick-or-treat” sorties, though of course only in gated communities, where the houses are suitably decked out in jack-o-lanterns, zombie and vampire figures, and glow-in-the-dark plastic skeletons.

It’s mostly all in fun in the US and other Western countries, where Halloween or All Hallows eve has become less the night before visits to the tombs of one’s loved ones and more of a commercial event, but which nevertheless resonates with the futile attempt to exorcise the terrors of death.

Costumes are as much a part of the celebration of Halloween in these parts as in the US, the most popular nowadays, again because of the media, particularly TV, being gussied up as zombies and vampires. The zombie and vampire shows and movies know no season, however. They’re around throughout the year, and — for shows about the undead — have lives of their own.

In trying to account for the popularity of zombie and vampire TV shows and movies, some social psychologists have suggested that they’re manifestations of otherwise unexpressed underclass hopes for vengeance against their so-called betters, the zombies representing, says one observer of the culture industry, worker hopes for the collapse of an oppressive social order.

If that sounds like wishful thinking, it most probably is — and even more so in the Philippines, where the undead aren’t so much the representatives of the oppressed as the oppressors themselves who suck the blood out of their victims.

And then there are the politicians.

The undead of the Philippine political class are of two types: those who’ve been around for decades and decades, defying aging and death through stem cell treatments if not through the ingestion of blood, and those who are cloned and reincarnated in the political system from generation to generation in the persons of their children and grandchildren, or their wives, brothers and sisters, or other kin.

Which helps explain why the issues of Philippine politics and governance, like some political personalities, are reincarnations of themselves, “walkers” risen and rising from the dead like the zombies and vampires that populate some of the most currently popular shows in both cable and free TV as well as the movies (such as, for example, The Walking Dead, True Blood, and their local counterparts, among them that perennial movie horror, Shake, Rattle and Roll).

Corruption is one issue that refuses to die, despite the Aquino III administration’s grandiose claims about its having been finally slain. Apparently no stake has been hammered into its heart, since it’s constantly materializing in such forms as ghost flood control projects and those trillions in unprogrammed Franken-riches otherwise known as pork barrel funds.

But it’s the decision of Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago to team up with Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. that has recently revived speculations about a literally unburied issue: what to do with the corpse of Marcos, Sr., and beyond that, the undying Marcos issue that still haunts us all.

Should she become President, did Defensor-Santiago commit to a hero’s burial for the senior Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani in exchange for those lovely bloc votes from the so-called “solid North” over which the Marcoses supposedly still have command?

Apparently it still matters, although it shouldn’t. The country has after all gone through this before, not only once but several times. The first was when Marcos, Sr. died in Hawaii, and the Corazon Aquino administration denied him a heroes’ burial; the second, third fourth and fifth during the presidencies of Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada, and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, and the sixth during the current administration which similarly rejected his being buried in the Libingan.

But this is only one manifestation of how the Marcos issue itself refuses to die. At least twice each year — in February when the EDSA civilian-military mutiny of 1986 is commemorated, and again in September during the anniversary of the declaration of martial law — someone is sure to argue that EDSA was a failure and things were better during the senior Marcos’ 21-year reign (1965-1986).

No silver bullet has ended the decades-long debate provoked by these occasions over whether it was better or worse during the Marcos dictatorship, even as, this year among all years, the candidacy of Marcos, Jr. has driven the debate to greater heights and even more absurd claims.

Every thinking Filipino should by now realize that the reason why the country can’t lay that ghost to rest is the absence of a thorough inquiry into that dark period — an inquiry that could have told the people of this country what the dictatorship was all about, how it savaged the entire nation, and how it set the country’s development back by decades. Instead, new media posts in Facebook and Twitter demonstrate abysmal levels of ignorance about the period, with some even claiming that Marcos was a visionary as well as a historian and an authentic Filipino intellectual, whereas he was merely clever.

Without an authoritative inquiry — an authentic Truth Commission — what happened from 1972 to 1986, as well as the consequences of that period, will continue to be debated and issues related to it that should have been settled years ago perpetually argued. The lessons that should be drawn from that period have remained unlearned, and with the passage of time, what martial rule did to the country will either be forgotten, or subjected to historical revision and even prettified, like a corpse yielding to the embalmer’s art.

That indeed is what’s happening, as Marcos, Jr. campaigns for the Vice-Presidency and eventually runs for President in 2022 in the belief that most of the people especially the young have never understood what his father’s rule was all about, and in the hope that those who do will eventually forget.

The Marcos regime can yet rise again. Although in this country of corruption and human rights violations — of ghosts and goblins, of zombies, vampires and other blood suckers was it ever really dead?

The Lumad During Martial Law


The following are excerpts of a blog post by Al Raposas in the blog The Young Filipino Historian. The post is an attempt to trace the roots of the struggle of the Lumad people in Mindanao and what happened to them during the regime of Ferdinand Marcos.

The photos of the Lumad people from the recent #Manilakbayan are by Loi Manalansan and Bryan Gonzales. The painting above on the other hand is by Federico "BoyD" Dominguez and titled Talabok.

From Al Raposas, The Young Filipino Historian Blog:

Lumad is a Visayan (in particular, Cebuano) term which means “native” or “indigenous.” Lumad is a loose category referring to 18 Mindanao ethnic groups including Manobo, B’laan (Bilaan), Higaunon (Higaonon), Subanun (Subanen), Mamanwa (Mamaw), Bagobo, Mandaya (Mangwanga), and T’boli (Tagabili).

Although, only 15 of the 18 ethnic groups recognize their category as Lumad to distinguish themselves from the Muslim or Christian Mindanao peoples. The Lumad population had accounted for 7% of the total Mindanao population in 1975.

Lumad opposition mainly grew from two elements: the land and the water.

It was not only the Muslims who were affected by the mass migrations from Luzon and Visayas, which were even sponsored by the Philippine government. The Lumads, who had been traditionally occupying the land, had to confront land claims of both Christian migrants and the Moros. During the Marcos administration, most of the land had been concentrated on the few rich, and Christian, families of Mindanao favored by the government.

To mention a few, the Zamboanga-based Lorenzo-Lobregat family, with Eduardo Cojuangco and Juan Ponce Enrile, established control of the Mindanao coconut industry. They are also into the banana business, owning some 7,000 hectares of banana plantations. Another was the Floirendo family. They built the Tagum Agricultural Development Corporation (TADECO) in Davao, which would soon become the largest producer and exporter of bananas in the Philippines. The total area of plantations owned by the Floirendos was around 8,500 hectares.

Logging concessions were also given by the administration to favored corporations. By 1979, 5 million hectares (50,000 square kilometers) of land in Mindanao were covered by these concessions. That is, at a time when the available commercial forest area stood only at 3.92 million hectares. The area covered by logging concessions formed half of the entire Mindanao Island.


NAPOCOR pushed for the construction of seven dams that would form the Agus Power Plant Complex along the Agus River in Lanao. This began with the expansion of the Maria Cristina Hydroelectric Power Plant from 1967 to 1973. This would later be known as Agus VI. In 1975, construction of Agus II began. It was finished by 1979. Soon, Agus I, IV, and VII began to be constructed in that same year. Construction of Agus V began in 1980.


Conflict in the two aforementioned categories had threatened the Lumad ancestral domain. Lands that were heavily concentrated to affluent Christian families (cronies) had covered many, if not most, of these ancestral domains. The tendency of the dams to flood the surrounding lands also threatened the Lumad ancestral domain. Indeed, the Lumad regard ancestral land as vital to their identity and heritage. Also, the Lumad had expressed their economic dependence to the land.


Pugad Baboy on Marcos and Martial Law

Pol Medina Jr talks about Bongbong, Imelda, and Ferdinand in the following politically inspired Pugad Baboy comic strips which he made for Rappler. They are titled Pamanang Utang, Puto Bongbong, and Marcos Hater. You can browse the originals (and the alternate punchlines) at the Rappler website.

Pamanang utang 01

Pamanang utang 01

Puto Bongbong 01

Puto Bongbong 01

Sabi 01

Sabi 01

Oblation Run: a Tradition Vs Authoritarian Rule

One of the most anticipated activities held by the Alpha Phi Omega (APO) Fraternity in the University of the Philippines during December is the Oblation Run. A run of naked fraternity men, carrying political statements against burning issues of the day.

Ever wondered how it all started?

Here's what Filomeno S. Sta. Ana III wrote in his Business World column in 2013:
In previous runs, the issues included human rights, social justice and agrarian reform, clean elections, right to education, and fraternity violence. In one episode, the run called for the ouster of Gloria Arroyo. On another occasion, the message was Erap’s resignation.

Whether the message gets through is another story. UP Diliman nevertheless gets delirious once the naked runners appear. The coeds, open and closet gays, barbarians (those who don’t belong to a fraternity), and other fratmen jockey for position to see, not hear, the message.

Will there come a time that the sight of naked men will no longer attract attention? If that happens, APO would have to think of a jarring novelty like having erect men run. But that thing is hard to sustain. Or perhaps, the fraternity can ask alumnus brod Jejomar Binay to run naked. But a Binayrun is going to be awful.

The tradition is close to 40 years old. It all began in 1977 -- an event to publicize the staging of a play sponsored by APO titled Hubad na Bayani (Naked Hero). The play itself was political, exposing the human rights violations committed by the Marcos dictatorship. The regime subsequently banned the play.

However, it remains unknown to the public who founded the Oblation Run.

Nicky Morales headed the APO chapter in UP Diliman when the Oblation Run was born. The Oblation is to Guillermo Tolentino as the Oblation Run is to Nicky Morales.

After the senseless violence arising from fraternity rumbles, claiming the life of his brod Rolly Abad, Nicky nudged the fraternity to undertake productive and politically relevant activities.

oblation run

(Photos from Rouelle Umali/Xinhua Press/Corbis)

Marcos Revisionism

This is a repost of a two-part article (Marcos Revisionism Part I: Time to Sound the Alarm and Part II: Half Truths and Fallacies of Marcos) written by Chempo that can be found at the Society of Honor website. According to a note by JoeAm, the article is "rich with historical facts and perspectives on a matter of considerable argument; where deductions are made, they are solely the opinion of the writer. Readers are advised to apply their own judgment or seek further information on contentious issues."

We hope this would encourage Bantayog website's readers to read more and learn more about that dark period of our country's history.

The photos are from various sources: Aquilino Pimentel Jr, and the book Martial Law in the Philippines from Xiao Time's posts, from the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant archives, from the Bong Bong Marcos Facebook page, from Inquirer (the mural Salvaged Memories of Randalf Dilla / Hiraya Art Gallery) and from Wikipedia.


Time to Sound the Alarm

Herminio Disini was a Marcos crony and golfing pal back in the 1970’s. He was the guy Westinghouse used to whisper some magic words into Marcos’ ears to snatch the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant deal out from under the nose of General Electric. From  two GE power plants worth US$650mm, the Philippines ended up with a single Westinghouse plant worth US$2.2 billion. Disini sure was a great negotiator. On top of that, he formed a company that got the deal from Westinghouse to construct the plant. A greenhorn contractor building a nuclear plant – Marcos sure had great faith. From BNPP dirtied money and other largesse from Marcos, Disini fled to Austria where he ended up owning a castle, a title of baron, and citizenship. Envision him sitting on a Queen Antoinette chair, legs raised resting on a Napoleon III table, holding in his hand a crystal glass of Chateau Margaux 2009 as he gazed through the stained glass castle window defined by gold-gilded frames, and dream of his beloved Philippines . . .

In Greek “historia”, it means “knowledge acquired by investigation”. History relates to past events, not necessarily culled solely from facts but from interpretation by historians. It is a profession that makes judgement of evidence before them. Therein is the frailty of history. Firstly, the evidence itself. Over-time, evidence may be re-examined in a new light, new evidence may surface, or new technology may provide new insights. Secondly, human fallibility. Historians write under a prevailing political and social climate, tainted by personal opinions, biases and cultural influences. Objectivity with regards to evidence selection and methodology dictate the historians’ interpretation of events past.

There are those who say history is written by the victors. We are in the age of information, and truth has a way of finding the light eventually, much easier now than hundreds of years ago. The Bush administration’s fabrication that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction is now a known fact. History is fluid and, from time to time, revisions are made. Lest we deride history and cast it down to the level of legends, grand-mothers’ tales, folklore, or mythology, let’s accord it the respectability it deserves because much of written history is based on undeniable facts. The holocaust did take place, Mr Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Comfort women did exist in Japanese camps in WW2, Mr Shinzo Abe. Marcos did loot the Philippines and martial law did do irreparable damage to the country, my dear Filipinos.

Attempts to re-write history have been continual affairs . . . for whatever personal, institutional, governmental, religious, political, benign or evil agendas. An innocuous book here, a seminar there, web-sites, a few YouTube postings, fund some organizations, one or two infomercials, etc. The con is all out there if you pause to read in between the lines and pay a bit more attention.

bnpp small

The con of men knows no bounds . . .

Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln wrote the best seller documentary Holy Blood Holly Grail, a book that covered hundreds of years of medieval history and at its core, the theory that Christ had a bloodline which exists to this day. In their investigative writing they pursued many clues to questions they raised. It led them finally to the‘Dossiers Secrets’ at the Bibliotheque Nationale de Francais. What they didn’t realize was that Pierre Plantard, a draughtsman, was deliberately planting fictitious documents. This is the length that people go to re-write history.

Baron Disini commissioned New York-based author Judy Corcoran to pen his autogiography, promising to tell all, meaning his version, meaning there were no crooks in the Philippines at all. Disini passed away in 2014. I don’t know if his book was ever published.

There are many who try to re-paint Hitler in a different light, his evil deeds down-played or defrayed over various fancy un-supported explanations, and his achievements over-hyped and misplaced. Nazi groups are coming into existence in many countries – Germany, USA and some Latin American countries.

911 is touted as a great American conspiracy. If you believe them, it’s the CIA who planned the attack.

The Church is under attack from every conceivable angle.

Marcos’ family, loyalists, and beneficiaries are challenging irrefutable facts and expounding half-truths and outright lies. What’s worse, lots of uninformed Filipinos cut and paste these lies to their Facebook or blog to perpetuate a train of lies.

The (international) Church of Satan, San Francisco, California, estb 1966 . . .

We are astounded, befuddled, yeah angry, at why ordinary Filipinos refuse to look at the piles of evidence against the misdeeds of Marcos. We are rendered impotent when more Filipinos say forget the past, in so suggesting the crimes are condoned – meaning, the misdeeds are accepted. We are driven out of our senses when a preeminent judicial personality sings the same tune as long as it can help her win the 2016 Presidency. We go crazy when we hear many who say of Bongbong that the crimes of the father should not be his burden without addressing the issue of billions of stolen dollars they refuse to return to the people.

When mortal logic provides no solace, sanity can only be retained by consigning the rationale for this strange behavior to the Great Deceiver.

For the believers of the good Book, there is one explanation for all this. The fallen one is here. God has warned that Satan lies concealed, and he deceives easily as he is a master at his craft. He manipulates those who plant the lies, he makes the path easy for those doing his work.

“I am the luckiest person that I know and being a Marcos is part of that and I am very happy that I was born into the Marcos family,” said Bongbong Marcos (Illusory mode).

In God we trust, and in the CBCP we hope they help to open the eyes of the laity to the great deception that has gained more traction in the last few years. The Marcoses may go to church, but for their words and deeds, it is so difficult to see the God in their hearts.


Is there really anything to apologize for . . .

The Japanese have to this day never formally apologized for their atrocities during WW2. Japanese kids grew up generally unaware of what their previous generation did. In schools they were taught watered-down accounts of Japan’s role in WW2. Many Japanese tourists were shocked by the reality they discovered as they traveled outside their country. There is no closure for Japan and the many countries that suffered under them.

After WW2, the Germans reflected and searched their souls. There was remorse, regrets, apologies and acceptance. There was closure for them and for the world. New generations of Germans grew up well aware of their dreadful past. Almost all Germans today have nothing to do with what happened in WW2, yet they feel apologetic.

“Our family have nothing to apologize for . . . ” Bongbong Marcos. (Classic denial mode).

“I don’t think that on a family basis, the Marcoses as a family owe us an apology. In the first place, it was not the case that President Marcos the father pooled all the Marcoses in one table and they all decided jointly to do certain activities,” Miriam Santiago. (Classic insanity mode).

Both Bongbong and Santiago, and all those who share the duo’s sentiments, miss the point. They are absolutely right in a court of law. But where is the moral responsibility to own up and return the loot? If our child steals something from a kid next door, don’t we apologize and get our child to return the stolen goods? The “no apologies necessary” logic shows that critical humanity traits are missing. Where is the sense of shame? Shame is something that separates humans from animals . . . well actually dogs do feel shame too. Notice how dogs lower their heads and droop their tails when chided for doing something bad? An apology signifies acceptance, the real apologists feel shame and remorse, the sincere apologists make restitution. Acceptance, remorse, and restitution are the basis for forgiveness and moving on. We should forgive, but never forget the lessons learned.


a. The Criminal Code of the Philippines is silent on the culpability of those in possession of stolen goods when they are privy to that knowledge. In most other jurisdictions, this is a criminal act.

b. I learned from Raissa Robles’s blog that there is a Presidential Decree No. 1612 or the “Anti-Fencing Law of 1979” signed by Marcos himself. He shot himself in the foot that time. Santiago conveniently forgot about this decree.


Does history matter? The past is past, let’s move on . . .

However good, however bad, we must never turn our back on history. It teaches us the wherewither we came from and how and wherewither we want to move to. The lessons of history ground us to what we are.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. . .  George Santayana

WW2 was a continuation of WW1. Basically the same set of players, in different roles – Hitler, de Gaulle, Churchill, Patton and many others. Hitler had a minor role as a corporal in WW1. He experienced the shame of a defeated Germany and yearned for a return of a mighty motherland. Critical lessons of WW1 were not learned and issues were left unsettled. Empires rise and empires fall all over the world in human history. In China, there was one dynasty after another for thousands of years. Each succeeding humanity never learned from their previous fall.

That is why the recent decision by Japan to scrap their pacifist policy and allow overseas military deployment is a dangerous development. Because lessons of WW2 have not been learned in Japan.

To water down the history of the Marcos’ martial law years and whitewash the plunder, human rights abuses and total mismanagement of the country, is not just horrendously distasteful, but utterly dangerous.

Sir Winston Churchill said in the House of Commons :

“When the situation was manageable it was neglected, and now that it is thoroughly out of hand we apply too late the remedies which then might have effected a cure. There is nothing new in the story. It is as old as the sibylline books. It falls into that long, dismal catalogue of the fruitlessness of experience and the confirmed unteachability of mankind. Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong–these are the features which constitute the endless repetition of history.”

Half-Truths and Fallacies of Marcos

Most of those who subscribe to the transgressions of the Marcos family come from personalities or organizations of high esteem, with irrefutable evidence, and have no hidden agendas. Those that refute the evidence fall into one of these categories – connected by relation, die-hard loyalists, fellow cronies, people who had benefited off Marcos, people blinded by their hatred of the Aquino administration, and mindless supporters. A name that comes to mind is Kit Tatad – what manner of man is this who has nothing but praise for Marcos’ misdeeds and scorn for Pnoy’s good deeds?

1. Indigenious spoliation:

The term “plunder” cannot adequately invoke the sense of magnitude of what Marcos stole from the nation. Such a pillage it was that surely shocks and outrages the conscience of not just clear thinking Filipinos, but people everywhere. The decent world has a new term for this — “indigenous spoliation”. It is the organized and systematic plundering of national treasuries by political and military elites of such a magnitude that it ravages the country, exacerbating poverty and undermining economic and social development.

Transparency International 2004 ranking of corrupt leaders:

1 – Mohamed Suharto, President of Indonesia (1967-1998) – looted US$15-35 billion.
2 – Ferdinand Marcos, President of Philippines (1965-1986) – looted US5-10 billion
3 – Mobutu Sese Seko, President of Zaire (1965-1997) – looted US$5 billion
4 – Sani Abacha, President of Nigeria (1993-1998) – looted2-5 billion
5 – Slobodan Milosevic, President of Serbia (1989-2000) – looted US$1 billion
6 – Jean Claude Duvalier, President of Haiti (1971-1986) – looted 300-800 million
7 – Alberto Fujimori, President of Peru (1971-1986) – looted 600 million
8 – Pavlo Lazarenko, President of Ukraine (1996-1997) – looted 114-200 million
9 – Armoldo Aleman, President of Nicaragua (1997-2002) – looted US$100 million
10- President Joseph Estrada (1998-2001) – looted US$78-80 million

Not bad, Philippines, we have 2 in the top 10 world rankings. VPJejomar Binay will most likely be up there soon, probably in 5th or 6th position.
THE TRUTH : Marcos is one of the greatest thieves in the world

2. P500 billion or more blue chip stocks:

“We practically own everything in the Philippines, from electricity, telecommunications, airlines, banking, beer and tobacco, newspaper publishing, television stations, shipping, oil and mining, hotels and beach resorts, down to coconut milling, small farms, real estate and insurance”. Imelda Marcos (admissive or boastful mode)

“They were paid well, supported and allowed to live the lives of the rich and famous and look what we’ve got? A betrayal. They were tapped by Ferdinand, supposedly to guard his interests in those companies. But look what happened, they wanted everything” (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 9/12/98) . . . Imelda Marcos (I’m-a-victim mode)

There you are, right from the horse’s mouth. Eye-popping. The Marcoses practically owned the whole Philippines! Towards the end of 1998, Imelda Marcos gave an exclusive interview to Christine Herrera of the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI). A lurid Imelda personally confirmed the open secret that Marcos arm-twisted many share-holders of blue chip conglomerates to sell out to him cheap. Cronies were used to front the ownership. She denied the arm-twisting part, and insisted the acquisitions were all paid for out of their own family funds. She never explained how a lowly-paid president was able to amass that wealth. The PDI was supposed to run a 9 part series, all front-page explosives. Part 1 was out on 5 Dec 1998 but the series stopped at Part 5 as Imelda claimed she received death threats to her family.

Was she mad? Not at all, on the contrary, it was a wise strategic move. She had just won the racketeering case in New York and the Philippines had a new Marcos-friendly president in Joseph Estrada. It was the perfect time to put things in the open and go after cronies like Danding Cojuanco, Lucio Tan, and Disini, who claimed rightful ownership of those companies. There are some who estimated the values could be in trillions – we’re talking about PLDT, San Miguel and others.

For trillions, it’s worthwhile to tip-toe back to the country.

Too late, Imelda learnt there was no honor among thieves after all. I wonder if Binay has better luck with Gerry Limlingan et al.
THE TRUTH: Marcos stole more than anyone can ever imagine.


3. Bongbong and the POA:

“I cannot confirm (the Swiss bank accounts) because I haven’t seen or read them. We – I don’t know. I cannot – I cannot say that I know. Definitely the Swiss money were there. Or are there now. It’s for us – again this constant – that people are saying – more and more participating in that — “ Bongbong, speaking to blogger Raissa in 2012 (Squirming mode)

On 21 Mar 1986, Bongbong handed over Marcos’ power of attorney (POA) to Mike de Guzman at a hotel in Honolulu. This POA was to enable US$213 mm to be moved out of a Marcos account with Credit Swisse, Zurich to a Philippine Govt’s designated account in Exportfinanzierungsbank, Vienna. The transfer was eventually frustrated due to Filipino infighting (Mike de Guzman, a Filipino banker free-lancing agent to retrieve stolen money for Cory, and PCGG.)

The intrigue is worthy of a Grisham novel, complete with code name “Operation Big Bird”. (You can read about it at Wikipedia’s  “Operation  Big Bird” , bearing in mind that’s only de Guzman’s version).

Intrigue aside, this clearly demonstrates Bongbong’s active participation and knowledge of stolen wealth.

So as not to leave readers hanging in the air, here’s a bit more follow through. This episode exposed Filipinos’ penchant for palace intrigue and bumbling teamwork. Had it been properly executed, the funds would have been retrieved in 1986 and it could have led on to uncover other Swiss bank accounts of billions of dollars. Legal complexities came into play and it was not until 1998 that the Swiss remitted the funds (US$540mm with interest) to Sandibangan’s account at PNB, but in escrow, meaning it cannot be touched due to some unclear legal issues. There it rested until 2004 (by now it’s US$683mm) when it was finally free and transferred to the Bureau of Treasury’s account to be utilized as dictated under the Agrarian Reform Act – partly for agrarian reform and partly for compensation to human rights victims under martial law. It was from this fund that President Gloria Arroyo diverted money illegally in what became known as the Fertilizer scam. The balance is still there.
THE TRUTH : Bongbong confirmed that the Marcoses have lots of stolen money stashed away.

4. Imee Marcos and a trust fund:

She is tied to Sintra Trust which was set up in 2002 in the Virgin Islands. Legally, there is nothing wrong with trust funds. But such offshore trust funds are almost always the way the crooked stash away their loot. Since its discovery, by now that trust would have been closed and replaced by others. This pinned her down to active participation and knowledge of stolen loot.

Investigative journalists unearthed some documents that link Sintra Trust to some accounts with Overseas Union Bank, Singapore and HSBC. That stands to reason because during those years of exile, Imee apparently spent some years in Singapore. I owned a small company that did some interior work at her condominium apartment. Despite having billions, she tried to dishonor a debt of S$2,500. The Marcoses run roughshod over little people.

When the Marcoses fled Malacanang, they left behind expensive art treasures and banking documents . . . and of course Imelda’s 3,000 pairs of shoes. That was how Cory’s people got hold of the fictitious names of William Saunders and Jane Ryan in the Swiss banks. During Marcos’ time they were probably untidy in the way they concealed their loot. In more recent times, concealing ill-gotten wealth has become very sophisticated, making it much more difficult for aggrieved governments to locate the funds. There are even companies that specialize in this field and the selling tool of their trade is impeccable professionalism and sealed lips. The funds may be illegal, but the work they do, the way the trusts and nominees that are set up, are perfectly legal. The objective is to conceal the actual fund beneficiaries and to minimize taxation. Places where these proliferate are tax heavens like the Virgin Islands, Labuan, Hongkong, Singapore, Luxemburg, Austria, etc. Rings a bell, does it not, the fact that Imee lived in Singapore for a while and Disini chose to stay in Austria?

There is no doubt the Princeton and so-called Oxford-educated children of Marcos have moved with the times. They are more savvy now to the way of hiding stolen wealth.

Interestingly, Estrada and Binay also visited Singapore for unknown purposes in 2011.
THE TRUTH : Imee is the one managing their stolen wealth

Aquilino Pimentel Jr Martial Law in the Philippines My Story (small)

5. Bataan Nuclear Power Plant:

“Will I say sorry for the power generation (that his father built)?” Bongbong

Let’s leave the corruption issue aside. Up till today, there are Marcos’ loyalists who want to put the blame on Cory, and even Pnoy, for refusing to repair and commission the BNPP which, according to them, would have solved the country’s power shortage problems. They simply refuse to believe that it is not feasible financially, and pay no heed to safety concerns.

Filipino experts, Westinghouse, and other involved contractors, down-played defects that were raised. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported thousands of small defects which individually could have led to a snowball effect if things were to go wrong. Most of these had to do with shoddy soldering work, courtesy of Disini’s inexperienced workers. Soldering looks like a simple task, but, if done incorrectly, it is a weakness that collapses whole structures. There is also a big problem with the foundation itself, which was supposedly rectified but not to the satisfaction of IAEA. Above it all, only in Philippines would one chose a site for a nuclear plant that is just five miles from an active volcano and within 25 miles of three geologic fault lines. It begets the question why? One reason, unverified, but has credence, is that the Marcos and Romualdez (Imelda’s) families had built up large land banks in the Bataan region. The BNPP was expected to benefit that region.
THE TRUTH : Marcos milked BNPP dry. Marcos does not value the lives of Filipinos.

6. From “The Pearl of Asia” to “The Sick Man of Asia”:

“But will I say sorry for the thousands and thousands of kilometers that were built (by his father)?”  . . . Bongbong Marcos (classical half-truth mode)

It is very true. Marcos built lots of roads, schools, bridges, etc. But was it for love of the Filipinos, or love of money? It is very difficult to see where the line of national interest begins and where personal interest ends. The operating credo was “more missions, more commissions”. Overpricing, kick-backs, rigged bidding – all these modus-operandi, still in practice today – were institutionalized during Marcos’ time. Bankers during those days were all too familiar with Mrs 10% in Indonesia (Tien Suharto) and Mrs 15% in the Philippines. Same bankers used to skip town whenever they received an invitation from Imelda to a function where, after her crooning routine, it was donation time.

There was a frenzy of projects. Filipinos need to ask where the money came from. Marcos borrowed extensively from the international capital markets. There is nothing wrong with borrowing. We all do that sometimes to buy big ticket items like cars and houses. What is important is responsible borrowing, meaning you spend on worthwhile projects and you can service the repayment. Marcos borrowed like crazy. When Marcos took power in Dec 1965, the national debt was US$500 mm; when he fled the country in 1986, it had ballooned to US$28 billion. Yes, there were roads etc, but just look at the BNPP – a single white elephant project that made up 10% of the entire external debt. How wild can that be?

Let’s take a bit of a worldview of the US$ during Marcos’ time to have a better understanding.

Since the beginning of 20th century up to 1972, the price of crude oil was stable at around US$2 per barrel (prices here all not adjusted for inflation). From 1973, it begun to shoot north wildly, peaking at US$36 in 1982. This was triggered by Saudi Arabia’s oil embargo in retaliation to the Yom Kippur War. That was the time when the oil cartel OPEC was at its most powerful. By controlling the supply side, prices inevitably shot up. The price of oil was never the same again after that. Oil is traded in US$ and with the dramatic price increase, OPEC countries sucked up all the currency. The middle east became the noveau riche and deserts suddenly began to turn into gleaming cities. These countries sucked in more money than can be pumped into their small economies, so the excess had to be deposited with banks. The oil money, loosely termed petrol dollars, were mostly deposited in banks in European cities. As US$ are settled in US, invariably most find its way into banks in the US. All these money had to be invested somewhere. The banks were flushed with petro dollars and not enough first tier borrowers to lend to. European countries were in recessionary state at the time, so most of these petrol dollars were invested in 2nd and 3rd tier developing countries like Turkey, Mexico, Brazil and other Latin American countries, and then there was Philippines. These borrower countries became blue-eyed boys of all these international bankers. They came knocking on Marcos’ and Philippine bankers’ doors everyday. That explains why there was a building frenzy by Marcos – the borrowing part was easy. As operations head of a bank in Singapore, I personally authorized telegraphic transfers of hundreds of millions of dollars for loan draw-downs by Philippine entities. Those were wild wild west days.

The external debt of US28 billion on its own cannot give you a proper perspective of the roof crashing down on Philippines in the early 1980’s. The Debt to Gross Domestic Product ratio is a proper gauge. In 1970 it was 33.2% and in 1986 it was 95.2%. The GDP is basically the sum of all goods and services produced in the year. Comparing this to total debt provides a yardstick as to a country’s capability to service its debt. Creditors monitor this figure all the time. There is no hard and fast rule, but generally when it reaches the 70% it spells trouble for the country. (There are exceptions).  At 70% the country will find it more difficult and expensive to borrow. Statistics did not lie in this case. Reality caught up with Marcos from 1980. The casino had ran out of chips. I saw the Philippines struggle with debt re-structuring, begging for moratoriums and going bowl in hand to the Asian Development Bank, World Bank and the IMF. Once, in order to meet interest payments, Marcos sent Bobby Ongpin to Singapore to ask for a loan of US$300-500 mm which Lee Kuan Yew refused because he could not gamble with taxpayers’ money. Restructuring is a frightening word in financial markets. It usually means insolvency. Marcos had bankrupted the Philippines. It was a most shameful period of Philippine history. Still, it was better for Marcos to have a bankrupted the Philippines than repatriate the stolen money in his Swiss bank accounts to pay off the loans.

A second whammy – high interest rates. Back to the petrol dollars to understand why. As the petrol dollars re-circulated back into the US, the liquidity caused prices to increase. To make it worse, the Vietnam War too added to the inflationary pressure. President Lyndon Johnson did not want to increase Fed interest rates to tackle the inflation for political reasons. When Paul Volcker became chairman of the Fed, he started to raise interest rates. The Fed rate increased from 11.2% in 1979 to 20% in June of 1981, almost reaching its usury limit. With loan spreads of 125 basis points over 3/6 months LIBOR, Marcos’ loans were paying at 21.25% per annum. and with 10-15 years maturity, he could barely service the interest let alone make repayments. New loans were taken just to pay off interest. Capitalizing interest just made the loans grow larger in succeeding administrations.

The third whammy – shrinking value of peso. Because of the high oil prices, all currencies including the peso weakened against the US$. This was accentuated by a weakening Philippine economy. In 1970 it was 6 pesos to a US$, 21 in 1986 and 45 currently. This meant that the US$28 billion of debt that Marcos left behind in 1986 required more and more pesos to repay. In peso terms, it has more than doubled!

The fourth whammy — When the price of oil shot up in the 70’s/80’s, a country’s economy may still be the same, but it requires more dollars for the same level of oil import. With poor fiscal and monetary management under Marcos, the Philippines had zero US$ reserves and almost no US$ revenue. A big chunk of the budget went into purchasing the dollar for oil imports. The economy basically collapsed.

The recycling of the petro dollars brought the Philippines to its knees and left Marcos shell-shocked. If there is any consolation, the same set of uncontrollable external events left Latin American countries with equally huge national debts. That does not exonerate Marcos. Other net-oil importing countries faced similar problems, but they managed. Taiwan, South Korea, Hongkong and Singapore were well on their way to becoming Asian Tigers. No, Filipinos, it was thievery and mis-management of the economy plain and simple. It’s always the economy, stupid. Borrowed till broke, economy down, massive un-employment and poverty up . . .  discontent set in, strong arm tactics were used to combat civil unrest, foreign investors left in a hurry, capital flight followed, more youths turned military and went underground or into the mountains, communists took the opportunity to destabilize the government, and martial law was implemented with its attendant atrocities. That’s how Marcos led the Philippines from “The Pearl of Asia” to “The Sick Man of Asia”.

Are we to forget this painful lesson of Marcos history? Thank God today we have a good man in Governor Tetengco running the Bangko Sentral. Thank God we have an administration that manages the nation’s money purse better. We now have better leaders who understand the need for delayed gratification, that it is not yet time to reduce taxes (while we are still struggling to pay off Marcos’ debts). It is so easy to simply give in to populist demands and score political points. Bongbong would like to reduce taxes . . . as long as we do not use their stolen wealth to replace the loss in revenue from tax reduction.
THE TRUTH : Marcos bankrupted the Philippines

Salvaged Memories Randalf Dilla Courtesy of Hiraya Art and Hiraya Gallery Manila

7. Marcos agrarian land reform

”Will I say sorry for the agricultural policy (of Marcos) that brought us to self-sufficiency in rice?” Bongbong Marcos (Deceptive mode)

Marcos agri policy and rice self-sufficiency were separate issues. The former was a disastrous failure and the latter was a matter of luck that had nothing to do with Marcos.

To be fair, the reform concept was good, but the execution failed miserably due to difficulties of land valuation and a bureacracy that thrived on patronage and corruption. The agri reform called for re-distribution of certain agrarian land to landless farmers. Over 14 years, Marcos distributed only 2.27% of all land titles by 1986. This took care of a miserable 0.17% of the total landless farmers. Bongbong has a lot to apologize for to the tens of millions of landless farmers out there. The Marcoses measure of success sure is damn low. To them, a face-saving “special diploma” is equivalent to an Oxford University degree.

As to the rice, the luck was that the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) was headquartered in the Philippines. In the mid 1960’s, the IRRI came up with the ‘wonder rice’ IR8 that promised better yields. It was so promising that Marcos visited the IRRI to see for himself and quickly declared that the Philippines would be self-sufficient in rice production during his first term in office. The IR8 strain and further enhancements enabled 2 crops per year and by 1972, the Philippines became a net-exporter of rice. We should be thankful to the IRRI and the good folks that supported the institute – the Rockefeller Foundation and Ford Foundation. The Marcoses take credit for the hard work done by others.
THE TRUTH : Marcos did nothing for land reform and rice self-sufficiency.

8. Education:

“Will I say sorry for the highest literacy rate in Asia (during his father’s time)?” Bong Marcos (Half-truth mode)

In his first term, this was true. DepEd got a 28% highest share of budget. In his second term, DepEd got only 11.6% and school enrollment was up only 2.4% yearly. Why the difference? Because under the martial law years, an educated population is not a good thing. Dictators are not great fans of educated people who are viewed as a threat to them. Do we forget the history of UP campus residents being hauled up by the military?

The truth is the amount of classrooms put up by Marcos in his 20 years rule pales in comparison to the thousands put up by Pnoy in his 5 years.
THE TRUTH : Marcos was not a fan of education

9. OFWs:

Let’s be fair, Marcos did not create OFWs. Long before Marcos there were already many Filipinos working overseas. The professionals, contract laborers and seamen mostly. Previously, they were know as overseas contract workers. However, Marcos’ abysmal handling of the economy led to massive unemployment, forcing many to go overseas to seek menial jobs. From the late 70’s, the Philippines became a popular source of supply for domestic maids. At the human level, these pinays make great sacrifices to bring food to the table for their families. But it created a stigma on Filipinas overseas as they are all assumed to be maids. The Marcoses gave OFWs a stigma that is still there to this day.

Well, Marcos actually did something good. He created the Welfare Fund for Overseas Workers. He further facilitated the labor export by improving the process for outplacement and the remittance system. That was not for love of Filipinos. Firstly, it was to ease the massive unemployment which was generating dis-content and, secondly, he saw the cash cow in the remittances which helped in boosting the peso value.
THE TRUTH : Marcos gave Pinays the “maids” stigma. Marcos made use of the lowest level of working Pinays to help him prop up the country’s damaged economy.

10. Human rights abuses:

“ I will always say sorry but what I’ve been guilty of to apologize about? We have constantly said, if during that time of my father, merong mga nasagasaan or meron sinasabing hindi natulungan (if there were those who were hit or not given assistance) or they were victimized in some way or another, of course we’re sorry that that happened. Nobody wants that to have happened,” Bongbong (Insincere mode)

In a ABS-CBN interview, Bongbong said those words in reply to a question about atrocities during martial law. All media reported “Bongbong apologizes to victims of Marcos regime”. The media were all taken for fools.

Here’s how an apology should be:

1. It is spoken directly and personally to the aggrieved, not to a reporter.

2. It must clearly communicate the following –

  • regret

  • understanding of the problem

  • acceptance of responsibility (his father’s)

  • willingness to do better (he will not do what his father did)

What’s not an apology :

  1. An apology with an “if” is not an apology (see the “if there were those” – he was saying it’s only a perception, maybe there were no victims)

  2. An apology with “I’m sorry but . . .” is not an apology – because it says that he does not understand why he is sorry. IN this case, he actually went on to say “but what I’ve been guilty of to apologize about”.

He still does not understand that we want him to apologize for his father’s deeds. We know he was not the perpetrator, but it’s the moral apology we want. Why are so many countries still requesting Japanese Prime Ministers since the end of WW2 to make a formal apology? Some PMs have done so, even Emperor Hirohito, but we are not satisfied because the Japanese wording was not tantamount to a proper apology.

Apart from the apology, do the right thing Bongbong. release some stolen wealth to the victims.
THE TRUTH : The Marcoses are not sincere in apologizing. The Marcoses will not use their stolen wealth to help victims of martial law atrocities.

11. The good old days:

Filipinos exasperated with the high crime rate always casually say ‘at least during Marcos martial law years, there was less crime’. If you do not mind the curfews, no Friday night gimmicks, no malling at nights, military personnel frisking you for the slightest reasons, your children participating in student riots, seeing your neighbors or classmates go missing. There was even less crime during the Japanese occupation.

After a societal change, when people get dis-enfranchised with the new way, they tend to long for the good old ways, forgetting the lessons of their history. Many Iraqis prefer the days under dictator Saddam Hussein, many Japanese would love the days of the Samurais, many Southerners in the USA would love the cotton fields of old when they had slaves.

Certainly, the high crime rate is a big problem today. The right way to go is to beef up the police and eradicate poverty. Make the PNP more effective by raising professionalism and reducing corruption in the rank and file. So who in the 2016 polls is most likely to meet this challenge – those with experience in stealing, those who are good in keeping stolen wealth, those we are not too sure about, or those with modern management skills?

I am a Soldier I’m marching on, I am a warrior and this is my song . . .

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

Lies are easy to refute, it’s the half-truths that are the most dangerous. Well meaning Filipinos should do the necessary every time they see the Marcoses and loyalists espousing them. Challenge them!

To paraphrase Churchill, “We shall fight them in the media, we shall fight them in the internet, we shall fight them in public spheres, we shall fight them in the polls.”

It is really amazing how the Marcoses can slap the Filipinos, steal from them under their noses, kill off some of them, impoverish them, and yet make the people love them and forgive them their travesties. All we can say to Marcos loyalists and mindless supporters is this:

“ Envision Baron Herminio Disini sitting on a Queen Antoinette chair, legs raised resting on a Napoleon III table, holding in his hand a crystal glass of Chateau Margaux 2009 as he gazed through the stained glass castle window defined by gold-gilded frames, dreaming of his beloved Philippines, then raising his glass as his lips curled into a smile, and said — SUCKERS!!!”.

From Malacanang Tumbler small

Toym Imao: Voltes V and Martial Law

toym imao

Posted by Toym Imao on Facebook:
When the evil forces of Historical Revisionists invade social media with the intent of infecting the Filipino People with a plague of amnesia and ignorance armed with deadly Brain Washing Blasters and Cluster Bombs of Lies, It is time to pull out the "Sword of Heaven" aka "Lazer Sword" and strike down those who threaten our sense of decency, common sense and pursuit of justice for all those who were wronged in the past. LETS VOLT IN!!! (Photo by Albert Labrador)

Photos and article excerpts about this installation art are from Manila Times, Interaksyon, and


According to the artist, he pulled the idea of the carroza from his childhood memories of processions during the Holy Week.

“It also plays around the idea of something put into a pedestal,” Imao further explained as he gave a brief guided tour at the exhibit’s launch this week.

On this pedestal is an assemblage of figures that contributed greatly to Marcos’ rise to power. It features an effigy of the dictator’s head with the Malacañang Palace atop it, and the Batasang Pambansa and Bataan Nuclear Power Plant along the sides. Also on top of the former president’s head is San Miguel, protected by the Voltes V armor, brandishing a sword to show the effects of Martial Law through the lines of riot police below.

Along the bottom of the carroza are images of Voltes V’s villains, characters from Planet Boazania that tried to conquer Earth. It is symbolic of how the military tried to control the freedom of Filipinos in the past. Finally, the Latin words “Nunquam Rursus” are written at the top of the installation, to mean “Never Again.”

The 13-feet installation took Imao about a year to complete. Due to budget constraints, the artist had to work alternately between commissioned projects and the completion of “Last, Lost, Lust”. He employed two extra pairs of hands at a time for the first version of the carroza, while it took another dozen helpers to put the this upgraded and updated version together,

As iconic as Voltes V may have been during his time, Imao recognizes the fact that today’s generation may not be too familiar with the ‘70s Japanese animated series, and in the same vein, what took place during Martial Law. He also lamented revisionist statements on Facebook where the younger generation is made to believe that the Marcos’ dictatorship had actually been “the golden age of Philippine history.”

Nevertheless, it is Imao’s hope that his installation will “generate questions” among the youth that will compel them to uncover the truth behind the darkest period of the Marcos regime.

“That martial law is a machine that invades our normal lives,” he concluded.

(Toym Imao, ‘Voltes V’ and the ills of Martial Law, Manila Times)

toymimao voltes

A large-standing installation compels people walking around Makati Avenue corner Dela Rosa Streets to step back and take a glance. The installation at the front of Ayala Museum made of brass, galvanized iron, and fiberglass stands at 396.2 cm high or around 13 feet, and is composed of imageries of Martial Law, referenced from the popular Japanese mecha anime series, Voltes V.

Created by multimedia visual artist Toym Imao, the artwork entitled “Last, Lost, Lust for Four Forgotten Episodes,” the carroza-like installation is a reflection of his ire when the last four episodes of Voltes V were cut off from broadcast by the Philippine government in the 1970s due to its alleged “excessive violence.”

“I wanted to do something that is whimsical on the outside but as we go through the details of the particular work, there are a lot of imagery embedded,” shared Imao, during the press launch of Ayala Museum’s newest outdoor gallery, the Open Space, where his work is first featured work.

“The humble goal of this work is to generate questions and inquiry; to encourage discussion. It doesn’t seek to represent an entire history but rather for a number of people to be curious about, or happen to experience this particular event.  It starts a conversation between a child and his parent, a child and his uncle, a friend, a lolo, or a kuya,” he added.

Imao explained that the installation is set on a carroza or carriage transporting religious icons during a parade—a spectacle that amazed him when he was a child. Seeing this image during Holy Weeks, he incorporated the carroza in his installation and used it as a pedestal for his work.

He represented former president Ferdinand Marcos as Prince Zardoz of Boazania, the main antagonist of the mecha series iconically known having a horn. At the back of the Marcos’ image was a representation of Malacanan Palace. Surrounding his image were also institutions like the Bataan Nuclear Powerplant, and Cultural Center of the Philippines—”institutions, that have been appropriated by the state to propel certain programs and interest that is perceived with the concept of new society  of the former president,” as expressed by the artist.

Imao also incorporated the image of the San Miguel bottle art, where Archangel Michael is depicted donning a costume reminiscent of Voltes V’s armor. Paying homage to the original artist of the bottle art, Fernando Amorsolo, this scene also depicts the classic battle between good and evil.

Hovering above Archangel Michael’s image is a latin phrase that reads, “nunquam tursus,” which translates to “Never Again.”

The installation used galvanized iron, a metaphor to the “iron fist” implemented during that period. Imao shared, “The entire motif is in a very distressed iron as visual metaphor of the iron fist implemented that time.”

First lady Imelda Marcos is also depicted at the back of the carroza as Zandra, the love interest of Prince Zardoz.

Having a rich imagery in his installation, Imao still plans to add more specific details throughout the duration of the exhibit at Open Space, which is six weeks. Imao plans to do this for the people to see that the work is “growing.”

(Memory and anger rekindled in Toym Imao’s installation art on Voltes V and Martial Law, Interaksyon)

JUCO, Estelita G.


Resistance to the dictatorship was a shared undertaking of the Filipino people, and it included middle-class professionals as well as students and workers, peasants as well as government employes, armed revolutionary fighters as well as advocates of nonviolence.

Estelita Juco was a teacher for 36 years at St. Paul’s College, an exclusive girls’ school where she herself had studied from the elementary grades to her graduation with a bachelor’s degree in education summa cum laude. She taught courses in English, journalism, sociology, public relations, and history, among others. She was the longtime moderator, or adviser, of the school newspaper, the Paulinian.

Before that she had been a well-known student leader in the 1950s, having been very active in the College Editors Guild, the Student Catholic Action, the Conference Delegates Association and the Student Council Association.

As a teenager, Juco was seriously wounded in the final days of World War II, during the Battle of Manila. Her family had taken refuge in the Philippine General Hospital, not far from where they lived, as the bombing intensified and the fighting raged between American and Japanese troops. Juco’s younger brother died as they lay wounded together; she found herself disabled, blind in one eye, right arm and left knee both gone. Years after the end of the war, she was sent to Japan for three months for a leadership training course. While there she won many friends, including members of the imperial family, for speaking as a victim of the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, but having no bitterness towards Japan.

Juco’s political activism was manifested in the 1950s when she campaigned for Ramon Magsaysay as president, who won in 1953, then successively for Manuel Manahan (1957) and Raul Manglapus (1964), who both lost.

Under martial law, she joined several of the groups that formed the budding opposition, among them Joaquin P. Roces's Taza de Oro group. With journalist Jose Burgos Jr. she helped revive the College Editors Guild (which had been abolished) as the Metropolitan Association of College Editors. But while Juco was “totally against the dictatorship,” according to a friend, “she was also very much against violence. She would not hear of resorting to it even to topple what to her was a repressive regime. She was in fact an advocate of non-violence.”

In 1980 she was invited by Burgos to write a column for We Forum ("Once More with Feeling") and later for Malaya ("Woman in the City of Man.") She criticized martial law, decried human rights violations and lambasted Imelda Marcos' increasingly frivolous activities, exulting afterward that “nothing can quite surpass the excitement and tremulous satisfaction of those weekly pieces of ‘brinkmanship’ that challenged the Conjugal Dictatorship when Freedom lay dying and human life was cheap.” One night her house mysteriously burned down, and she suspected that the fire had something to do with a particularly critical column she wrote about Imelda Marcos.

When Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. was assassinated in 1983, Juco's activism became more militant. She wrote increasingly bold articles, joined street marches against the dictatorship, and helped organize St. Paul alumnae to join the protest actions. She campaigned for Corazon Aquino’s election to the presidency.

After martial law had ended, Juco retired from teaching and was appointed as sectoral representative of women and the disabled in the first post-dictatorship Congress. She held the post for two years until her death on July 12, 1989.

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