"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
The Marcoses and The Aquinos
THE ROSE OF TACLOBAN
(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
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
BY VIVIENNE KHOO
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.
Over 150 other court cases are currently pending.
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.
Imelda insists she did not give her permission for a film about her rise from beauty queen to Philippine First Lady.
“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. A Jesuit priest recounts how she presented the same to him non-stop for four hours. Bernice Ocampo, her niece, laments that Imelda’s downfall was brought about by flatterers, not true friends.
Imelda’s hubris knows no bounds. 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.
Her childhood friend Lettie Loksin is filmed saying that when she first met Imelda she thought she looked like the Virgin Mary — long-haired and beautiful. Another childhood friend recalls, “Imelda’s dresses were made of parachutes and bedsheets during the war. She did not mind as long as she had a new dress.”
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.