Father and son; like mother, like son
My apologies to the songwriter and singer, Cat Stevens (now known as Yusuf Islam, after having converted to Islam some years back), for using his song title for my piece today.
Unlike the father in Cat Stevens’ song, the father of the 17th President of the Philippines now lies like a frozen shell of an erstwhile living human being. Thus, he can no longer give advice to his one and only son and namesake. The son has ascended to the same throne the father used to sit on for more than a decade when he ruled mostly using draconian policies and procedures. The son’s historic comeback to Malacañang is courtesy of the votes of 31 million Filipinos, possibly including scores of ballot shaders. Was this a twisted stroke of fate? Is the son following the “drawing by fate” of his father’s career, as “one of the few destined for greatness”? This last phrase was part of the poster advertising “Iginuhit ng Tadhana” (Drawn by Fate), a 1965 political propaganda film that “tells of the life and exploits of then senator, and presidential candidate Ferdinand Edralin Marcos.”
But from the way he spoke at his inaugural ceremony last June 30, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. did not seem to be in need of any paternal advice. Mr. Marcos’ performance on that historic day showed where he got his oratorical and histrionic talents. He is truly the embodiment of his mother’s avowed thespian skills. And he has learned from his mother well: on his first day as the new president, Mr. Marcos once again repeated the lie about having built the windmills in Ilocos Norte, during his stint there as an “absentee governor.” In the documentary, “The Kingmaker,” the former first lady lied many times about the ownership of the expensive paintings once displayed at their posh residence in Makati. Imelda repeatedly lied to dodge questions relating to the ownership of the treasures, including a huge amount of money in US dollars they brought with them when the whole Marcos family had to be hauled off to Honolulu, after having been ousted through the first bloodless Edsa revolution on Feb. 25, 1986.
In keeping with the “Imeldific” tradition, Mr. Marcos has revived the ostentatious display of wealth during the inaugural ball and dinner at the Rizal Hall in Malacañan Palace on the evening of June 30. The glittering party that night was attended by a limited number of guests, among whom were the country’s well-heeled, elite members of high society. Each guest was given a unique and expensive token, a gleaming gold medallion engraved with Mr. Marcos’ image. It was encased in a well-crafted, elegant-looking red box. The dinner menu was modest by Michelin-starred restaurant standards, but for ordinary men and women toiling hard on a daily basis to put simple food fare on their tables, it was already a feast. Alas, the millions of hungry, poorly shod Filipinos (among whom voted for Mr. Marcos) were not invited to this feast. Perhaps, the leftovers were thrown away instead of packing them as doggy bags? It was a good thing the inaugural dinner and glittering ball were not shown on television; the poor would have drooled and cursed at the new/old occupants of Malacañang.
The new president mirrors his mother’s unbridled sense of entitlement and narcissism. Why did he distribute images of himself carved in a golden medallion? Did he think the medallion will destine him for “greatness,” or infamy? Or was it a way to make everyone know how rich his family is? Is splurging on these bespoke golden medallion tokens his way of throwing money away since he has too much of it that it is no longer “countable”? The “Imeldific” once said one indicator of being (filthy) rich, is when people no longer know exactly how much wealth they have.
Under former president Rodrigo Duterte, we endured six years of his frequent cursing and expletive spewing. This time, we should brace ourselves for more lying and ostentatious display of wealth; with the latter at our expense.
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