Imelda Marcos – a study in a power grab, corruption and ill-gotten wealth during the Marcos Era – Part I

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Imelda Romualdez Marcos with former President Ferdinand Marcos and family during the 1965 inauguration- Photo Credit: Malacañang Palace

Imelda Romualdez Marcos isa Filipina politician and convicted criminal. She married Marcos in 1954 and became the First Lady of the Philippines when Ferdinand Marcos became President of the Philippines in 1965 until they were deposed in 1986. While in power for21 years, Imelda and her husband stole billions from the Filipino people, and that the amount they stole could have paid off the entirety of the Philippine foreign debt. By 2018, the Philippine government had recovered about $3.6 billion of this ill-gotten wealth through compromise deals or sequestration cases.

Upon becoming First Lady, Imelda often asked members of the Blue Ladies to accompany her on her trips out of the country. Imelda’s Blue Ladies, specifically Maria Luisa, a daughter of the wealthy Madrigal family and Daniel Vazquez’s wife, contributed…

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Transforming Agriculture

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IF I WERE THE NEXT PRESIDENT (Part 8 of a series)

By BEN R. PUNONGBAYAN

Founder, Buklod National Political Party

Improving Philippine agriculture, which includes fishery and forestry products, has been a persistent major issue since much of the 20th century. Unfortunately, we still continue to struggle to come to grips with it.

So many official and academic studies as well as private commentaries and opinions abound on how to deal with this extraordinarily important issue. I chose as reference for this commentary a recent study issued by the World Bank in June 2020, “Transforming Philippine Agriculture During COVID-19 and Beyond”. This report provides a high level analysis of the present state of Philippine agriculture and a discussion of policy options to transform Philippine agriculture. Accordingly, unless otherwise specified, the data cited in this commentary come from this source.

Based on data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP)…

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Marcos and Martial Law in the Philippines

For those too young to know about martial law during the Marcos era, here is a brief history. May we learn from it.

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The Sunday edition of the Philippines Daily Express on September 24, 1972, the only newspaper published after the announcement of martial law on September 21, the evening prior.

Ferdinand Marcos changed parties to run against Diosdado Macapagal and was elected president in 1965. While running for the presidency, Ferdinand Marcos and his wife, Imelda Romualdez, sang campaign duets as part of his strategy to win votes. Marcos came to power as a nationalistic social reformer with a broad electoral mandate to deal with the country’s chronic problems.

During his first term of office, he achieved considerable improvement in initiating infrastructure programs and increasing rice production. The country was ranked second in Asia in terms of economic standings.

At the beginning of his term, Imelda was all charm. Then in Sept. 1966, she made her international debut on an official trip with Marcos to the United States. She entranced Lyndon Johnson…

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What’s the Fascination with the Old Garden Roses?

Rose Gardening World

By Rosalinda Morgan

A sepal, a petal, and a thorn

Upon a common summer’s morn-

A flash of Dew – A Bee or two –

A Breeze – a caper in the trees –

And I’m a Rose!

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

I’ve been growing roses since 1971 and joined the American Rose Society the following year when they were still in Columbus, Ohio. I started with five modern roses because that was the only thing I knew about roses. But as I began to love the history of anything and everything, I read about Old Garden Roses and began to explore its fascinating history. I started to plant some old garden roses after I moved to our third home in the ‘80s. I still had some modern roses in the garden because it seemed like everyone who visited my garden was looking for hybrid teas. But Old Garden Roses have…

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Choosing and Adopting a Primary Language Soon

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IF I WERE THE NEXT PRESIDENT (Part 7 of a series)

By BEN R. PUNONGBAYAN

Founder, Buklod National Political Party

The Philippines is one of the probably very few countries in the world that do not speak a primary language on a national scale. This situation, unfortunately, has grave disadvantages, more directly in political and educational developments and, hence, ultimately in economic development.

By primary, I mean the language that is commonly used in speaking and writing in practically all situations such as, in government, business, schools and even at home and other informal occasions. A primary language becomes necessary in uniting the people when there is a concurrent presence and use of several languages in a country. Call it “lingua franca”, if you will.

Geographically, at present, the regional languages predominate in day-to-day conversation—at home and in informal gatherings. But these languages are rarely used in public writing, except…

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General Macario Sakay – Was He an Outlaw or a Patriot?

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General Macario Sakay y de Leon was born on Mar. 1, 1878, along Tabora Street in Tondo, Manila. and died 114 years ago today on Sept. 13, 1907, at age 29. He first worked as an apprentice in a kalesa (carriage) manufacturing shop. He was also a tailor, a barber, and a stage actor.

Sakay grew up in Tondo, where he had gotton to know Andres Bonifacio. Joining the Katipunan in 1894, Sakay acted in popular Tagalog verse dramas, which were staged in different neighborhoods in Manila, thus providing the perfect cover for the young Katipunero to move about. He fought alongside Bonifacio as a Filipino general in the 1896 Philippine Revolution against Spain. In 1899, he continued the struggle for Philippine independence against the United States.

The Philippine-American War, also called the Philippine Insurrection by the United States, was a war fought from 1899 to 1902 by forces of…

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Overhauling the Philippine Education System

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IF I WERE THE NEXT PRESIDENT(Part 6 of a series)

By BEN R. PUNONGBAYAN

Founder, Buklod National Political Party

There is a common acknowledgement that the quality of our education system is quite low. This observation, without doubt, has been validated by the poor results of the performance of our students in periodic international assessments of achieved learning.

The most telling of these assessments is the very poor performance of our students in PISA (Programme for International Assessment) in 2018 for 15 year-olds where our students ranked lowest in reading and second lowest in mathematics and science, out of 79 countries. A humiliating results, indeed; but which brought a loud and clear confirmation that may drive us to action. Similarly, we did poorly in the ASEAN assessment in 2019 of Grade 5 students among six ASEAN countries.

In addition to the academic issue, the term I use to…

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Letter XIII Latrines

With all the sad news around, here is a snippet of the army life which might make you smile a little.

Pacific Paratrooper

High class facilities in the Philippines, 1944

Back in the states, people were still dancing to the tunes of The Dorsey Brothers, Count Basie and Artie Shaw.  They listened to the songs of Doris Day, the Andrew Sisters, Lena Horne and Rosemary Clooney.  But, some others weren’t so lucky, in the army there was always latrine duty, as depicted in the following letter from Smitty.

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Letter XIII                               Latrines                        Wednesday 9/5/44

Dear Mom,

Many are the times you have heard me refer to the latrines.  Never before had I any conception or realized the amount of genius and mathematical figuring that was necessary for the building of one of these casual looking comfort stations.

Yesterday I had the dubious honor of being selected, with four other disgruntled G.I.s, to labor on a detail whose sole aim and mission was the digging and building of a latrine.  It seems that in order…

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Encomienda in the Philippines

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Encomienda Drawing by Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala

An encomienda was a system adopted in all the Spanish colonies based upon the practice of exacting tribute from Muslims and Jews during the Reconquista (Reconquest) of Muslim Spain. As legally defined in 1503, encomiendas (the term comes from Spanish encomendar, “to entrust”) were used to reward the long, loyal, or hazardous service to the Crown by military men who had participated in the conquest, mostly soldiers with Sargento mayor rank or above. It was also used to recognize and perpetuate Spanish class distinction in Asia. The receiver of the reward, the encomendero, was charged with a number of “Indios” living within a specific geographic area he was supposed to instruct in the Catholic faith and the Spanish language. The law limited the number of natives in an area to not more than 300, and the land value was limited to…

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SUBSTANTIALLY REDUCING POVERTY – Reducing Child Stunting

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IF I WERE THE NEXT PRESIDENT(Part 5 of a series)

By BEN R. PUNONGBAYAN

Founder, Buklod National Political Party

A heartbreaking face of poverty is the present-day preponderance of undernutrition of Filipino young children.

The leading single measure of this undernutrition, or malnutrition generally, is stunting—the health condition of children under five years old of having a height shorter, as defined, than the median of a reference population, which in our case is the Philippine population. Stunting is associated with the consequences of malnutrition, including brain underdevelopment.

The consequences of stunting are devastating—poor performance in school and low productivity as adults. The gravity of this health condition is further illustrated in a recent World Bank report on undernutrition in the Philippines. The report states that normal height growth and brain development not achieved during the first 1,000 days of a child’s life from conception (about two years…

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