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Ghosts of CCP should haunt Marcoses, Filipinos

04:01 AM January 21, 2020

There are many bad things going on in this country, but nothing more nauseating than the recent award given to Imelda Marcos by the Cultural Center of the Philippines. The media photos at the grand dinner for the Marcos family, beaming along with CCP chief Margie Moran, were totally disgusting, particularly at this time when Taal Volcano victims need assistance.

One could dream that the CCP had instead shown at that event the recent foreign documentary “The Kingmaker.” But that, of course, would not have happened, given the servility displayed by Filipino officials with short memories. But thankfully, the film is now scheduled to be shown in Manila on Jan. 29. I saw it some months ago in the United States and wished it could be shown throughout our country to remind people of the dark era when the Marcoses were in power.

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There is a superb account of the building and collapse of the Manila Film Center by Tats Manahan in the November 2015 issue of Rogue magazine. It chronicles how Imelda dreamed of putting up, next to the CCP, a Parthenon-like structure to be a “filmmakers’ wonderland.” With the grand opening scheduled for January 1982, 4,000 workers in seven shifts were tasked with finishing the construction on time.

In November 1981, the scaffolding on one floor collapsed, burying hundreds of men in the rubble. Rescue efforts were slow. There is only one extant photo taken by a TV network, showing a man being pulled out of the rubble — an engineer ironically named Benigno Aquino, who died in the hospital.

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Since martial law was in place, Imelda ordered a news blackout to keep the public from learning about the incident. Rescue efforts were stopped so the rebuilding could continue, but it was known that 169 men were unaccounted for and left buried in the rubble. The grand opening was held on time, with foreign film celebrities like George Hamilton, Brooke Shields and Jeremy Irons being flown in for free by Philippine Airlines.In 1990, an earthquake and a fire made the Film Center unstable, but after some restoration work, Imelda allowed soft porn to be shown to the public to raise revenue. Manahan recounts exorcism rites being held in the film center, with Imee Marcos supervising. To this day it’s believed the ghosts of the buried men hover over the doomed building, a testament to Imelda’s entombed dreams.

There were a few muted cries at the time over the millions being spent on what the late senator Benigno Aquino Jr. had called Imelda’s “edifice complex.” Today, Imelda is being feted for her supposed contribution to the arts. One really has to wonder if and when Filipinos will ever gain some self-respect.

CELESTE T. CRUZ
[email protected]

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TAGS: Celeste T. Cruz, CPP, Imelda Marcos, letters, Manilf Film Center, marcos family, margie moran, The Kingmaker
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