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“How shall freedom be defended? By arms when it is attacked by arms, by truth when it is attacked by lies, by faith when it is attacked by authoritarian dogma. Always, in the final act, by determination and faith.” ― Archibald MacLeish

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Monday, October 28, 2013

EQ Post Investigates: Cory and Imelda, A Study in Contrasts

“My best successor is Ninoy Aquino.” Marcos
Original article by Fe Zamora, published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer – 22 August 2008
Whenever President Ferdinand Marcos was in the mood, he would gather his loyal generals in his study in Malacañang for an hour or so of leisurely discourse on issues that mattered most to him and his martial law administration.
Over coffee and pastries, the Commander in Chief would toss a question or statement for his court to comment on or contemplate in a relaxed, casual atmosphere so different from the formality of their ranks and position.
Indeed, it was an honor to be part of the gathering because it meant one was part of Marcos’ inner circle.
In one tête-à-tête in late 1980 or early 1981, the conversation drifted to the “succession issue.” Marcos was already sickly then but this was not known to the public. But the generals knew. They kept the secret to themselves.
What Marcos said that day was totally unexpected of the strongman as the generals knew him.
“My best successor,” Marcos said in a serious tone, “is Ninoy Aquino.”
The generals retreated into silence as Marcos went on praising Aquino like an ardently admired political ally rather than an archrival. They recoiled even more when Marcos pointed out that, among the politicians around, “Aquino is best prepared (to be president).”
The Marcoses and The Aquinos
"Our opponent [Cory Aquino] does not put on any make up. She does not have her fingernails manicured. Filipinos who like beauty, love and God are for Marcos." - on why Ferdinand Marcos would win, January 1986
"I concede that I cannot match Mr. Marcos when it comes to experience. I admit that I have no experience in cheating, stealing, lying, or assassinating political opponents." Cory Aquino
Walang mahalagang hindi inihandog
ng pusong mahal sa Bayang nagkupkop,
dugo, yaman, dunong, tiisa’t pagod,
buhay ma’y abuting magkalagot-lagot.
Andres Bonifacio
(based 100% on quotes of Cory Aquino)

I just do whatever it is that I believe I should do,
Regardless of the risks to my life.
I would rather die a meaningful death
Than to live a meaningless life.

Faith is not simply a patience
That passively suffers until the storm is past.
Rather, it is a spirit that bears things
With blazing, serene hope.

It is true you cannot eat freedom
And you cannot power machinery with democracy.
But then neither can political prisoners turn on
The light in the cells of a dictatorship.

The nation was awakened by that deafening shot
They came out in the millions
All the world wondered as they witnessed...
A people lift themselves from humiliation.

Reconciliation should be accompanied by justice,
Otherwise it will not last.
While we all hope for peace
It should peace based on principle, on justice.

(based on actual quotes)
I wrote inside my yearbook
“To try is to succeed
Fried chicken and the rumba
The colors pink and cream”
Ninoy was my first love
But he said I was too tall
A rich girl stole the sweetheart 
Of the Rose of Tacloban
Magsaysay Award for International Understanding CITATION for Corazon Cojuangco Aquino   Ramon Magsaysay Award Presentation Ceremonies 31 August 1998, Manila
The most powerful symbols are simple ones. As news of the popular Philippine movement to unseat the dictator Marcos swept through the global village in early 1986, one image outshone the others: a brave woman in a yellow dress. Cory Aquino. Up till now her image lingers brightly as a symbol of nonviolent democratic aspiration the world over.
But symbols are simple only on the surface. Cory Aquino herself was not the architect of the movement she led, nor did she lead it by choice--this had been her husband's ambition. By experience, she was not a leader at all. Nor was the movement altogether coherent or unified. It was fragmented by personal rivalries and contradictory visions for the post-Marcos future. But when Aquino agreed reluctantly to stand for president, she brought to the struggle not only her celebrity as widow of the tyrant's most famous victim but also her integrity and her Christian faith and hope. This gave the movement a powerful moral center that galvanized the dictator's opponents and shamed his supporters. Along the boulevard of EDSA, People Power won the day. And Cory Aquino became president.
She then did as she had promised. Step by step, she dismantled the machinery of dictatorship and constructed the machinery of democracy: a free press and a new constitution, then elections. With each step, she limited her own powers and broadened those of others. She expanded popular participation in government and brought nongovernmental organizations into the national political dialogue. She sought earnestly to reduce poverty and improve public health, education, housing, and the environment. And she did her best to reconcile her government with its armed opponents in the countryside. In the process, she also stood down seven attempts to overthrow her embattled democracy by renegade power-grabbers from within her own military.
Cory Aquino could not possibly fulfill all the expectations she had awakened. No one knew this better than she. But as reality took its toll on the hopes of EDSA, she carried on buoyantly nevertheless. And consider, in the end, what she did manage to accomplish.
She united the democratic opposition to dictatorship in the Philippines and led it to victory.
She restored her country's democratic institutions and its good name in the community of nations.
She governed with integrity and the devout intention to do always what was best for the country and its people.
And, when her term was over, she stepped down in favor of an elected successor.
No Asian leader of our time can claim as much.
In electing Corazon Cojuangco Aquino to receive the 1998 Ramon Magsaysay Award for International Understanding, the board of trustees recognizes her giving radiant moral force to the nonviolent movement for democracy in the Philippines and in the world.
Malice in Wonderland: The Imelda Marcos Story
The Asia Mag
It is a testament to her residual power that Imelda Marcos was able to get a court order to prevent a damning film about her to be shown in the Philippines. What other widow of a reviled dictator could get her way in the country that she pillaged?
Consider the facts. She was found guilty of corruption and sentenced to a minimum of 12 years in prison in 1993.
The Philippine Supreme Court overturned the conviction.
The Marcos estate lost a class action lawsuit for human rights violations. A US Federal District Court awarded the plaintiffs $2 billion. The money has yet to be paid.
In 2003, the Philippine Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that found Imelda Marcos guilty of funneling $659 million to private Swiss bank accounts and awarded the entire amount to the Philippine government.
And in an ironic perversion of justice, Imelda Marcos receives a monthly pension of $90 from the Philippine government as a widow of a war veteran.
“We have to stick to the truth because truth is God,” she said. “Many things were lifted out of context and insertions there were quite, sometimes malicious.”
She said she co-operated with the film because she thought it was for a thesis. Reportedly director Ramona Diaz was given 15 minutes. This stretched to five hours of the former First Lady speaking non-stop and playing video after video of media coverage of the Marcoses.
In the movie we are shown a mythology that Imelda has carefully cultivated. In the opening sequence she presents her world view in an engaging way. Still coquettish in her mid-70s, she leafs through a book she has written called "Circles of Life". The method in her madness breaks down later in the film when she illustrates with a marker pen her philosophy complete with apples, hearts and a Pac-Man
In her hometown of Tacloban, she has made a shrine to herself and Jesus Christ. The chapel on the first floor is lined with dioramas of her rise from being a little girl playing in the sand to becoming a heroine of her people helping the downtrodden. Upstairs visitors are shown her ornate bedroom which has walls completely covered in woven leather strips.
We get Imelda’s spin on her own vanity when she boasts that as First Lady she took an hour to dress for kings and queens but she would take “double the time” if she was going to the provinces because the people needed “a standard, a star…especially in the dark of the night”.
In 1954, Imelda, met then-congressman Ferdinand Marcos in the cafeteria of the Philippine Congress and married him 11 days later. Ferdinand ran for president in 1964 and won by presenting himself and his wife as the John F Kennedys of Asia — young, fresh talent that was going to help the country advance. With the support of the US government, the Marcos’ hunger for power increased and in 1972, Ferdinand declared martial law.
This was, according to Imelda, for the good of the people. In the movie she describes the imposition of martial law in these words: “[The President] informed the family…. He called the little children together and he said the time has come [and] that what he had to offer for the survival of the country was more than life, it was honour…. because he was so democratically committed.” This is when most movie audiences laugh out loud.