The Return of Marcos: Seven reasons why more Filipinos want them back
The 2022 presidential election was a defining moment for the Marcos family. Robredo, Marcos Jr.’s closest rival, had dozens of free celebrity endorsements, including business groups and a T.V. network on her side. But Marcos Jr. consistently topped various surveys across demographics.
With 81% of Filipinos on Facebook, data shows more Filipinos favored the return of Marcos to Malacañang. Marcos Jr. had 5.3 million followers at the height of the campaign; Robredo had 2.3 followers. Naturally, it was a nightmare for those who supported the “Yellow Revolution” that removed Marcos Sr.
7 Reasons why Filipinos want Marcos back
- People’s Power did not represent the nation.
- Decades of “yellow politics” were empty promises.
- The Yellow movement overkilled Marcos.
- The rise of “intelligent” Marcos apologists
- Martial Law was justifiable.
- Better a “dictator” than oligarchs.
- Marcos did not steal from the people.
- The rise of Duterterism.
1. EDSA People Power did not represent the nation
An estimated two million Filipinos joined the 1986 EDSA revolution. If we add another two million “silent protesters,” four million out of 55 million Filipinos (in 1986) would still be a minority.
An uprising of loyalists threatened Aquino’s government
Cory Aquino banned Marcos from returning to the country, dead or alive, because his physical presence may destabilize the country. The Supreme court agrees. In short, the number of Marcos supporters is enough to overturn EDSA.
“The threats to the government, to which the return of the Marcoses has been viewed to provide a catalytic effect, have not been shown to have ceased,” the Supreme Court said.
When the Marcoses returned in 1997, Imelda, now the head of the Marcos family, was received by Marcos loyalists literary in a red carpet. After 36 years, their popularity never wavered, despite the many history books and countless documentaries that taught and exposed the “evils of Marcos.”
2. Weak governance replaced the strong leadership of Marcos
Ferdinand Marcos Sr. was an eloquent statesman. He was a visionary who laid the groundwork for the nation’s long-term infrastructure plan.
With Imelda, they created a uniquely Filipino identity that shaped a generation. To most Filipinos, Marcos represented hope, while the rest of the world learned of him as a murderous dictator and the greatest thief.
Marcos was replaced by Corazon Aquino, who represented the better hope with “righteous politics.” But for the greater Filipinos, the reign of the Aquinos was a war between two families that’s turned toxic after decades.
A vendetta whose outcome was a double standard and weak governance that replaced “strong leadership.”
The Aquino’s weak and tarnished reputation
President Corazon Aquino was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 for her part in the peaceful revolution. She was hailed a “saint” who toppled an evil regime and pushed for righteousness in the government.
However, the more Cory stood for righteousness, the more she was criticized for the excess baggage that weighed down her legacy.
Cory’s son Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III became president 24 years after. He inherited the same excess baggage and created a new set of criticism for himself. Critics described his presidency as inept, indecisive, weak, and the worst president.
U.S.S. Ambassador Kristie Kenny described Cory’s leadership as “weak and tarnished.” Her moral ascendancy never fully compensated for her weak leadership style.
Cory’s antipathy toward President Arroyo led her to ally with dubious figures such as President Estrada, “Blemishing her reputation as a moral crusader,” she said in a memo in 2009.
Yellow, the color of “righteous politics” in the Philippines
Leni Robredo, the would-be successor of the Aquinos in politics in 2022, embodied good governance. She was the Yellow Revolution’s best bet, yet she avoided using the color that identified “righteous politics” for so long.
Her campaign was laden with anti-Marcos rhetoric, and Pinoys are tired of hearing the same rant for the last 36 years. On the other hand, the “new Marcos” called for unity and command leadership, something Filipinos would rather hear.
Never Again” to “Juana Change” and back to “Marcos Pa Rin!”
The “righteous politics” that Cory and her son Noynoy represented amounted to weak governance, double standard, and a crusade of revenge and divisiveness.
The presidency of the Aquinos revolved around how to stop Marcos from returning. The same tune played for the next three decades. In 2022, the opposition ranted the same issues against the Marcoses, which was toxic.
A staunch yellow supporter puts it this way, “I joined the EDSA revolution and voted for “Yellow” in the past. I vote for “Red” today (Marcos Jr.) because the Yellow movement has become toxic. They have become arrogant and self-righteous.“
Pink is the new yellow.
3. The ‘Marcos overkill’ backfired, and hatred turned to sympathy
Educating the world about Marcos’ evil regime
Cory Aquino’s Yellow Revolution dominated politics for 36 years. Ferdinand Marcos ruled for 20 years. Talking heads, the academia, and witnesses lived to tell Marcos’ atrocity.
What followed the People Power were documentaries that humiliated the family worldwide. Ferdinand Marcos is currently listed as the world’s second most corrupt leader.
“Marcos was unquestionably a thug. He was a gangster,” said James Hamilton-Paterson, author of America’s Boy: Marcoses.
“He was a brilliant politician, but he was also brilliantly corrupt. On the surface, he seemed to be a rational person going by the Law, by the books, but in person, he was quite ruthless,” according to author Luis Francia.
Four decades of telling the story of a despotic regime
Nearly four decades of retelling the story of a despotic regime would be sufficient for all Filipinos to see an “evil Marcos.” Yet, “more Pinoys” still love them. They saw the depiction of the Yellow movement and the popular media as overkill.
In 2019, Imelda participated in a documentary, The Kingmaker. Using her own words, Imelda was depicted as a monstrous, delusional, self-pitying, wholly unrepentant, and wealthy woman with queenly aspirations.
In 1997, the comedy show ‘On the Television’ featured the episode “Our Maid Imelda.” In 2013, ‘Here Lies Love’ was the new Evita off-broadway musical. She was featured on the first season of ‘Despot Housewives.’
Crucified for attempting to create Filipino royalty
Imelda Marcos wanted to elevate and recreate a uniquely Filipino identity. The reason she built the Cultural Center and modeled elegant fashion, and justified her diamonds for the world to see. She turned heads and became the toast of the world.
The former beauty queen commissioned paintings with royal medals, sash, and tiaras. Perhaps an allusion and illusion to what might have been if Spain remained in the country and granted nobility.
Imelda, the “royal pretender”
In 2020, Princess Margarett ridiculed Imelda for her shoes and accent in Netflix’ The Crown.’ Perhaps a swipe at Imelda for being a royal pretender. After all, she wore a tiara in the past, even though she was not titled.
There is some good sense when ordinary people have someone to look up to. It creates a fantasy that inspires hope and aspirations, which is what Imelda believes.
An inconvenient truth, “Filipinos want beauty. I have to look beautiful so that the poor Filipinos will have a star to look at from their slums,” she said in an interview.
Imeldific: Setting the standard of art and beauty for Filipinos
Imelda Marcos was the patron of the country’s highly acclaimed national artist Botong Francisco. On April 27, 1972, President Marcos Sr. issued Proclamation 1001, creating the ‘Order of National Artist of the Philippines.’
Marcos’ decree paved the way for the recognition of Amorsolo, Botong Francisco, Abueva, Edades, and Manansala, among others, during the Marcos era.
Imelda also brought Van Cliburn to the country and sponsored cultural events that launched world-class pianist Cecil Licad to the world center stage. Licad later said she credits her success to Mrs. Marcos.
During the 50th anniversary of the C.C.P. in 2020, the board of trustees honored Imelda for shaping the arts and culture of the country. She was the founding chair of the C.C.P. and created undeE.O.O. No. 60 by her husband, Ferdinand.
Imelda’s Blue Ladies
With fashion czar, Pitoy Moreno, Imelda, with her coterie of “Blue Ladies,” modeled the terno using jusi and piña that Moreno introduced to the world. His contribution to the history of Philippine fashion culture is unparalleled, and he owes it to Imelda. [Metro]
Dressing for the masses
Imelda Marcos dressed for the masses. She was quoted as saying they expected it of her. Cordero noted that she mingled with and hugged the poor and expressly forbade her Blue Ladies from carrying hand sanitizer.
In her interview with C.B.C. Canada in 1983, Imelda justified her extravagance by saying, “As First Lady, I have to flaunt love and beauty… which is some kind of frivolity and extravagance… when there’s so much deprivation. And yet it is basic for survival of a human being—beauty and love.”
Their accomplishments overshadowed by vengeance
The apparent truth is that Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos’ accomplishments were overshadowed by vengeance. The more the world hated Marcos, the more they gained sympathy for the country.
To say that the Marcos years were the “golden age” is debatable. However, they did accomplish much. For example, as Ferdinand looked into agriculture and developing infrastructures, Imelda pushed arts, culture, and trade to the world.
Ferdinand and Imelda apparently made things happen
In 1976, the “Chamber,” precursor of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, proposed the “First Philippines International Trade Fair,” inspired by the Canton Trade Fair. The problem, the country did not have a trade hall.
As chairwoman, Imelda had Philcite built in six months. In such a short period, they got 20 countries out of 70 embassies in Manila to join the trade fair, including thU.S.U.S., Japan, China, and Russia. [Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat]
Marcos also looked heavily into raw material exports to Europe and improved labor policies for the O.F.W. by establishing the National Manpower Youth Council (NMYC) in 1975, which paved the way for TESDA.
In the same year, “A la découverte des Philippines” was an exhibition of Philippine products at Parly, France, among other trade shows she actively pursued locally and abroaA.P. [A.P. Archive Video]
The “unimeldific” Filipino stereotype
In 2022, a Chinese actor played the role of a Filipino domestic worker in a prime-time drama episode, Barrack O’Karma. She darkened her skin, practiced voodoo, lied to her bosses, and spoke in broken English.
In 2017, Madame was a movie about a wealthy American couple in Paris. She asked one of her servants to pretend to be rich and fill in the table.
The Pinay maid was never an option because “Nobody invites Filipinos to parties,” madame quipped. These depictions hurt the pride of Filipinos.
The underdogs: More sympathy than hatred
The Filipino identity, which Imelda Marcos did her best to achieve, was used to make her a laughing stock. Guilty or not, most Filipinos saw it as demeaning and overkill.
Filipinos love telenovelas, and the story of Marcos is full of drama, from rags to riches story and from Power to shame. The couple embodies what it means to be Filipino, and to destroy Marcos is to tear down the Filipino identity they built.
The memes “Let me educate you,” “brainwashed Marcos supporters,” and “stupid B.B.M. followers” were regarded as “self-righteous,” while Duterte and Marcos supporters became the underdogs.
4. The rise of “thinking” Marcos apologists against “antagonistic pinklawans”
Undoubtedly, Marcos apologists Rey RJ Nieto (Thinking Pinoy), Rita Gadi, and recently Prof. Clarita Carlos, among others, strengthen the Marcos brand. Although their clout had been reduced, social media became their ally.
Juan Ponce Enrile
Juan Ponce Enrile served Marcos Sr. as justice and defense minister. He was instrumental in the success of the EDSA Revolution. He served as the Secretary of National Defense under Aquino government and continued to serve the country.
In 2022, Marcos Jr. invited him to be his mentor. He tested positive for COVID-19, to the apparent joy of his detractors, and said, “God gave me very good doctors. He wants me, humbly, I think, to stay here for sometimes more to engage you to help clear and clean up, if possible, your distorted narrative of our history for the benefit of the uninformed innocent people.”
The unintended endorsement of the feisty Senator Santiago and equally feisty Professor Clarita Carlos
Senator Mirriam Defensor-Santiago’s endorsement
B.B.M.’s first taste of taking the Vice Presidency was in 2016 when he teamed up with Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago. Her endorsement was powerful because Santiago, for decades, has been the symbol of righteous governance, even until her death.
She disregarded the “sins of Marcos” by saying that “the sins of the father should not be on the son.” Marcos Jr. was also her former student who admired his leadership, intelligence, vast experience, and confidence in his ability to govern the people.
During the Santiago-Marcos campaign, she appeared to be recovering from her cancer illness. Still, knowing that she may die prematurely, even if she wins, she said, “It is time that a Marcos or Romualdez brought leadership to this country.”
Political scientist Clarita Carlos, the unintended Marcos apologist
U.P. Political Science Professor Clarita Carlos was a frequent guest on radio and television for her unbiased and pragmatic take on politics and governance. She rose to popularity during the presidential debates and asked tough and relevant questions.
One of her viral videos was when she asked B.B.M. if he was a Machiavellian, to which he unapologetically said yes.
Another was her criticism of a multi-awarded who hosted a presidential debate. She referred to her questions as trivialized and stupid.”You looked for educated voters, but you feed them with stupidity,” Carlos said during a phone interview with Kagapay TV.
Her no-brainer-straight-talk “educated” B.B.M. haters who wanted to “educate’ Marcos supporters. However, her peers criticized her for touting Ferdinand Marcos’ achievements.
The professor also exposed Robredo’s apparent ineptitude when she gave a vague answer to a serious question about leadership. Carlos was later given a government position, primarily for her political savvy.
Robredo’s “educated working class” vs. the ignorant “solid B.B.M.”
The Yellow Movement “educated” everyone about the “evil Marcos,” the reason no one should vote for B.B.M. Still, B.B.M. got more votes than the movement’s best bet.
The perception of two voter classes created “sympathy voters”
While it is only perception that created two voter classes, it promoted an “Atenista” to rant, in fluent English, that not all B.B.M. supporters are stupid or low class.
Perhaps “Marcos loyalists” were more forgiving and became sympathetic to B.B.M. The fact that there was a Marcos overkill that even “Yellow loyalists” acknowledged.
“Let me educate you”
Creating that distinction among voters backfired. The more the Robredo camp “educated” B.B.M. solid supporters with memes, posts, and rants, the more the latter was reminded of the Yellow (which is now pink) association with oligarchs.
Most of Robredo’s voters were the working class, Millenials who were educated in school about Martial Law and grew up on the internet with documentaries about the evil Marcos.
Belittling Marcos supporters backfired
Still, the Yellow Movement insisted that propaganda, fake news, and historical revisionism fooled his voters. However, the more they belittled Marcos and his supporters, the more he won swing voters.
5. Martial Law was justifiable
Communist insurgents were the rationale for Martial Law, perhaps among other self-serving reasons. Ferdinand Marcos’ “Batas Militar” (Military rule) justified killing civilians, silencing journalists, sequestering properties, and shutting down newspapers.
Today, Marcos supporters believe Martial saved the country from communism and turn a blind eye to the atrocities of Martial Law.
Cory Aquino freed communist founder Joma Sison
In 1986, President Cory Aquino freed four political prisoners, including the founder of the Philippines Communist Party, Joma Sison, despite objections from top military advisers.
As a result, communism became an even greater threat to the country, vindicating Marcos for Martial Law.
Her Vice President, Doy Laurel, claimed that from 16,500 NPA at 25,200, of which 2,500 are in Metro Manila.
“They have infiltrated not only the trade unions, the schools, the churches, and the media but your government,” Laurel said in 1988.
Whether the Marcos years were an era of human rights abuse or justified killing, the promise of Cory to ‘break the back’ of insurgency did not happen when the “dictator” left. Neither her son Noynoy did.
Communist threat today
Among the liberal groups accused of supporting communism or socialism are N.G.O.s Gabriela, Bayan Muna, Anak Pawis, and A.C.T. Teachers, among others. News outlet Rappler was also dragged into this mire, and Christian group NCCP.
The Aquinos haunted by human rights violations
If Ferdinand Marcos is crucified for Martial Law and Imelda is beleaguered by the Manila Film Festival accident—Cory Aquino is haunted by the Mendiola, Luisita massacre, and her son Aquino Jr by the Masasapano massacre.
Cory’s “Yellow disciples” repeatedly derided the Marcos regime for human rights violations. It was a concerted and relentless effort to demonize him. Yet she failed to address gruesome human rights violations during her term. [Arillo, 2018]
Cory failed to address gruesome human rights violations during her term.
6. Better a “dictator” than oligarchs
For decades, educational textbooks have depicted the “evils of Marcos,” to which Marcos Jr. called for its revision. At the same time, the Marcoses are accused of media propaganda and historical revisionism.
In short, Marcos Sr. is forever branded as a “dictator” by the world. But as it turned out, dictatorship is better than Cory’s oligarchs. While Marcos Sr. was the strongman, Aquino was incompetent. [Professor Clarita Carlos, 2015]
Thus, the slogan “Never again Marcos” backfired and became “Never again to oligarchs.”
Oligarchy became synonymous with Cory’s leadership
Cory Aquino was born into an elite group of landowning oligarchs who dominated the country for centuries. Perhaps it was propaganda to tarnish the Aquino legacy, but apparently, the 1987 Constitution she commissioned was in the best interest of the oligarchs—not the people.
According to Journalist Amando Dorinila, People Power was simply a transition from old to “new oligarchy.” Not much has changed in ownership of wealth during Cory’s time.
“One is disappointed that none of the people of the lower orders of Philippine society is represented at the head table (at Club Filipino).
Most of the people inside are members of old political families whose social and economic backgrounds put them in key positions to influence policy decisions…,” he said in 1986.
7. Marcos did not steal from the people
Rumors that Ferdinand Marcos had a massive stash of gold bars have been around for decades, justifying Imelda’s ostentatious living. Stories of her shopping spree included shutting down Rustan’s to avoid the crowd to charting an airplane to shop in Paris.
In 1989, business magnate and Marcos emissary Enrique Zobel claimed that Ferdinand left behind his widow, Imelda, gold bars worth at least $35 billion.
The Marcos gold bars
Imelda asserts that her husband was a lawyer for a mining company and became a gold trader and had tons of gold before entering politics in 1949.
“When Bill Gates was a college dropout, Ferdinand already possessed billions of dollars and tons of gold. It wasn’t stolen,” she said. [The Kingmaker 2019]
In 1999, Fernando Zobel de Ayala, a close confidant of Ferdinand Marcos, disclosed Ferdinand’s alleged US$35 billion worth of gold bars in a sworn statement before the Senate.
Zobel based it on the original gold certificates that Marcos showed him in Hawaii. He estimated that Marcos had a total wealth of US$100 billion back in 1989.
Rich beyond compare
The 1975 issue of Cosmopolitan Magazine listed Imelda Marcos as one of the wealthiest women in the world. Some speculated that she was the richest of them, even more than Queen Elizabeth II. [Lifetyle Inquirer]
In 2013, 24-Oras’ Mel Tianco interviewed Imelda Marcos. For the first time on national T.V., the “Iron Butterfly” admitted she was wealthy. Imelda gave a tour of her apartment and showed stacks of dossiers.
Tianco quipped, “If we go by all of these, you are rich beyond compare.” Imelda replied, “This will save the world.., the reason I want to survive. This is not for me anymore.” It remains to be seen if Ferdinand and Imelda were sincere or just whetting our appetite.
Marcos Jr. denies the gold bars
In a T.V. interview in 2022, Marcos Jr. said,” “Wala pa akong nakikitang gold na sinasabi nila” (In all of my life, I have not seen the alleged gold bars).
Perhaps, Ferdinand’s promise to relinquish his gold bars to the country is no longer an option.
Spanish gold and the Yamashita treasure
Author and Marcos apologist Rita Gadi claims Ferdinand was already rich before becoming president. He was allegedly a treasure hunter who created international bank accounts in Switzerland in 1954 and 1963 to hide his wealth. However, Vera Files debunked the claim.
Gadi also mentions a fascinating story of gold bars that Marcos hid on his walls that Imelda demolished. However, this could be a long string of propaganda to cover his track of embezzlement.
175 boxes of gold treasure
Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita’s translator, Eusebio Ocubo, collaborated on the treasure’s location with Roger. In 1971, he found the Burmese statue that came along with several wooden boxes that contained gold bars.
On April 6, 1971, Marcos sent armed men and used brute force to steal the treasure.
In 1996, a jury ruled that Rogelio Roxas was entitled to $22 billion from the Marcoses, NY Post reported. However, Roger died in 1993, and the award money was none collectible.
Loboc’s “Bridge to Nowhere”
Marcos allegedly used his Power and influence to look for the Spanish treasure as well. For example, the unfinished flyover bridge in Loboc, built in the 1970s, was strategically pointed to the 400 years old church. Locals said doing so justifies the demolition of the landmark.
Spanish gold articles were allegedly buried beneath the church before its construction in 1734. Centuries-old rumors said friars kept them underneath to keep them safe from Muslim invaders in the 1600s.
8. Duterterism: “Dictators” make things happen
A sense of political stability was evident during the term of Cory Aquino and her son, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino Jr. Like her mother, Noynoy’s leadership was marked by ineptitude and incompetence, said UP professor Clarita Carlos.
Then came Duterte, who supported the Marcoses. His “dictator” image was reminiscent of Ferdinand Marcos, who had things done by sheer will. Duterte exceeded it with mega-infrastructures in one term.
Duterte’s lofty ‘Build, Build, Build’
Evidently, “dictators” have accomplished more for the country than the combined leadership of two Aquinos who spent less on infrastructures—although they remained incorruptible.
Even if Duterte Sr. withdrew his public support for Marcos Jr. in 2022 by bad-mouthing him, his last name was the main reason people wanted to vote for him.
Noynoy Aquino’s ambivalence vs. the brash Duterte
Duterte’s leadership is a dichotomy of Marcos and Aquino’s leadership. But for the most part, it exposed Nonoy’s ambivalence—reminiscent of his mother’s weak leadership.
For example, hH.K.’snored H.K.’s demand for an apology during the 2010 Bus hostage crisis that endangered OFWs in China.
His incompetence in handling the Mamasapano mission led to the massacre of SAF44 in 2015. He repeatedly ignored the “Tanim Bala” scam that Duterte resolved in his first 100 days.
Unlike the Aquinos, Marcos Jr., like his father, admitted he was, in a sense, a Machiavellian. Duterte shows a similar leadership style, evident in his war on drugs.
In a sense, a Machiavellian.
Duterterism and the new Marcos
It would have been improbable for Bongbong Marcos Jr. to win the presidency without the support of the “Duterte brand.” Rodrigo Duterte’s brute leadership was better for most Pinoys because he got things done—reminiscent of Marcos’ leadership.
His daughter Sara Duterte who ran as Marcos Jr’s vice president, has a similar character. She is the “alpha” of the family, her father said. Together, they were the perfect brand to win in 2022.