MonthNovember 2015

Marcos: Dead, not gone

Marcos: Dead, not gone” was first published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Nov. 28, 2015 (Pilipino version: “Marcos: Patay na’y natiro pa“)

Past is past, Bongbong says of dark Marcos years.” This Inquirer headline (10/22/15) recalls novelist William Faulkner’s oft-quoted statement: “The past is not dead. It is not even past.”

The announcement early this week by Christie’s, the jewelry auction house, illustrated Faulkner’s point. Christie’s discovered that an item described as “loose crystal” among over 700 pieces of jewelry left behind by the Marcoses in their flight to Hawaii was actually an “extremely rare” pink diamond believed to belong to a Mogul emperor. The entire Marcos jewelry collection was initially valued in 1991 at between $5 million and $8 million. Christie’s estimated the Mogul diamond alone as worth $5 million.

This reminder of martial law plunder rebuts Sen. Bongbong Marcos’ insistence that Filipinos should just leave the Marcos legacy to discussions among “historical analysts.” Current concerns, such as the deterioration of the educational system, domestic insurgencies, and impunity, have deep roots in the Marcos past. Historians will study the past to illuminate the problems of the present and the options for the future.

US President Barack Obama used the Faulkner quote to remind Americans that the current crises in the black community can be traced back to inequalities suffered by earlier generations under the brutal legacy of slavery. The current violence in the United States arising from race relations cannot be understood or effectively addressed without understanding its historical context. The history of human rights violations during the Marcos regime is not of the same scale and duration as those suffered by the American black community. But it requires the same comprehension of context.

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Edilberto de Jesus
Edilberto de Jesus is a former Secretary of Education. He is also professor emeritus at the Asian Institute of Management.

The luck of Bongbong Marcos

The luck of Bongbong Marcos” was first published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Oct. 17, 2015 (Pilipino version: “Ang Suerte ni Bongbong Marcos“)

“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.

Obvious ba? Did Bongbong really have to rub this in?

When he was born in 1957, his father, Ferdinand Marcos, was already completing a third term in Congress. Two years later, Ferdinand won a seat in the Senate, from where he launched two successful presidential campaigns. Faced with term limits, he then imposed a martial law regime that enabled him to retain supreme power for another 14 years. There were few disadvantages for the only son of the Philippines’ most powerful politician.

It was not Bongbong’s fault to be born to wealth and power, and it is an act of virtue to express gratitude for the benefits received from parents. But his filial piety becomes suspect when he suggests that the blessings he enjoyed also spread to the rest of the population. It becomes delusional when he asserts that Ferdinand was the best leader the country has ever had.

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Edilberto de Jesus
Edilberto de Jesus is a former Secretary of Education. He is also professor emeritus at the Asian Institute of Management.

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