On the occasion of his 95th birthday, I believe it is very apt to write something about this notable president. Somehow, September 11 has a correlation with me personally. My late younger sister celebrates the same birthday as the former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, apart from me being born during the Martial Law years.
I know we have different opinions about the Marcoses, but allow me to point some good things that I can remember during those days. I do not want to tackle politics here so please do take this as purely informational in nature.
I can still recall my uncle bringing me to the Home Economics building of a central school in Nuro, Upi, Maguindanao where we bought packs of nutri-bun. This bun was part of the Marcos government’s program to alleviate malnutrition for school children and was sold to the community at a cheaper price for 5 centavos each only. When I was in kindergarten in a daycare center, skimmed milk and raisins were also given for free.
My grandfather used to have harvested rice milled at a milling station running the Masagana 99 program, which simply means a yield of 99 cavans of rice per hectare. This agricultural project had made the Philippines a major rice exporter in the late ‘70s up to the mid ‘80s.
Meanwhile, being the governor of Manila, Imelda spearheaded the showcasing and preservation of Filipino arts by the establishment of the Folk Arts Theater, Manila Film Center, and the Cultural Center of the Philippines to name a few. In most of her visits to other countries, she never missed to showcase Filipino fashion by wearing terno style gowns. Health centers like the Philippine Heart Center, the National Kidney Center and the Lung Center of the Philippines among others were also established during the Marcos era.
I was in Grade 1 when the EDSA Revolution broke out, but I remember playing with a pin that says Marcos Pa Rin. Cory Aquino was loudly saying over the radio, “Tama Na, Sobra Na, Palitan Na,” which I ultimately memorized through those days.
I never had a full understanding of martial law at that time. I only heard stories like no firecrackers during Christmas and New Year days as the military was in full watch. My sister used to tell me it was peaceful and quiet during the holidays.
Today, when I watch Marcos’ speeches on YouTube and other media, I couldn’t help but admire his eloquence and firmness. Putting aside all the negatives, I believe he was one of the greatest presidents the Philippines have ever had.
I was grateful to have a glimpse of his life at the Marcos Museum and Mausoleum, a visit which should never be missed when touring Ilocos Norte. I was never really that excited upon knowing that our group will be dropping by until I entered the museum. I wanted to scrutinize every display there is but our time was unfortunately limited. Nonetheless, here’s what I found: