A silent observer looking around. At times he must protect his identity with avatars and weird sounding names.
Firstly, be advised to not read this article if you haven’t eaten yet. You may lose your appetite. This article is also not for the weak of stomach, squeamish or easily disgusted. And if topics like human waste disgust you, then feel free to not read anything. But then, as what critics pointed out, what the Marcoses did to society in the heydays of Martial Law was beyond disgusting.
To begin with, whitewashing is the favorite of any dictators for an obvious reason. It covers any past crimes and abuses they did. It may come in any forms, from online propaganda to movies. In the case of the Marcoses, the dictator’s son Bongbong Marcos and the rest of the family made a triumphant return to Malacanang after a landslide election victory. Critics pointed out that propaganda and disinformation helped the younger Marcos gained an edge during election. And shortly in Bongbong’s presidency, a movie was released detailing the last moment of his dad in Malacanang.
Many people felt that the movie was meant to whitewash the abuses of the Marcos by presenting him as a victim. Indeed, film critics described it as unrealistic and stylized drama. So stylized that real life will surprise the fans of the film. The exit of Ferdinand Marcos Sr. From Malacanang during the Edsa revolution was nothing glorious, dramatic or stylized. It was a rushed and hasty retreat of a defeated president. And just how hasty? Marcos and his family left several possessions scattered in Malacanang. He never said goodbye to his staff. He even left his own mother as he flew to Hawaii. Worst, he left undesirable stuffs lying around in the Palace.
Marcos soiled Malacanang with his own excrements.
According to Col. Arturo C. Aruiza, Marcos’ loyal aide-de-camp, which he recorded in his book “Ferdinand E. Marcos, Malacañang to Makiki”, the mood inside Malacanang during the Edsa revolution wasn’t pretty. The then President Marcos was ill and struggling to remember the combinations of his safe. At the same time, the preparation to flee was chaotic, with belongings being packed in the haste. It was a far outcry from what the movie about his last days in Malacanang portrayed. And what the Marcoses left tells a lot. There were lavish half eaten meals on silver services while messes of scrawled notes were on the presidential table. Weapons and bullets also littered the floor, as well of evidence of greed.
Malacanang Palace back then was described as a “museum of excess”, thanks mostly to Imelda Marcos’ massive collections of expensive stuffs. This includes cosmetic products, underwear, dresses, perfumes, jewelries, and her infamous shoe collection. Her dressing room was likened to a mini shopping mall, a monument to an excessive lifestyle as the people outside struggled in poverty.
But something sinister was waiting to be discovered in the toilets of Malacanang. So much so that it could make Marcos exit comedic, almost like a stuff of slapstick jokes.
As if Imelda Marcos’ shoe collection in Malacanang wasn’t enough, the people had a nasty surprise when the toilet in Malacanang was inspected.
This is the part that the film glorifying the Marcoses missed on purpose.
Writer Nick Joaquim mentioned in his book The Quartet of the Tiger Moon: Scenes from the People Power Apocalypse that “one of the last things Mr. Marcos did in the Palace was to defile it”. Indeed, the bathroom was a stinking mess. His combat boots, and his trousers were left together with a bunch of disposable adult diapers. And those stuffs were soiled with his excrements.
And it seems that during the chaos of their departure in Malacanang, Marcos was left in panic. So much so that he shi**ed on his pants.
Mr. Joaquim also mentioned that Marcos was losing control of his bladder, when he traveled with a urinal during the campaign period. And the fact that he needed boxes and boxes of disposable diapers means Marcos was losing control of his bowels too.
Considering the abuses of his regime, the rampant corruptions and the widespread poverty, being an object of ridicule was a fitting punishment. Yet Marcos’ excrements were a sign of deeper dilemma that he tried to hide.
Marcos' Superman Image
Back in a Second World War, another tyrant going by the name Benito Mussolini often paraded a macho image for propaganda means. He often appeared doing manual labors or playing sports to present an image of masculinity, even appearing shirtless. He aimed to be the model of New Italian citizen in a budding New Italy, though he ended up being hanged by his feet from a metal girder framework.
During the Martial Law era Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos seemed to be mirroring Mussolini by presenting his own version of machismo. At present, there are photos of him being circulated by paid propagandists showing him shirtless, with his buff physique exposed. Marcos promoted an image of “Malakas at si Maganda” (Strong and Fair), with him as the Ilocano superhuman and Imelda as the Fair One. And like Mussolini before him, he is also shown doing sports or physical activities.
But the purpose of showing off half naked had a different purpose. It was meant to hide the fact that his health was failing.
The Tottering Dictator
In 1979, there were words going around that Marcos had a kidney problem that required dialysis. There were also periodic absences of Marcos from the public, which could indicate failing health. His wife Imelda dismissed those as rumors and nothing but wishful thinking by his political opponents. But even with persisted lies, Juan Ponce Enrile (his Minister of Defense) and the other visitors in one luncheon at the Palace noticed Marcos being pale and weak. In reality, he had a kidney operated in August 7, 1983, two weeks before the Palace luncheon. It was said that the kidney was donated by his son, Bongbong, but was rejected by his body. Marcos had a second operation in November 26, 1984, at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute. To preserve the secrecy, the hospital was closed for three weeks.
The transplant was successful, but Marcos faced more bouts of illnesses. In fact, during his campaign for the December 19, 1985 election, he needed to be carried by his aides.
Marcos needed to show off a healthy exterior, as a failing health could contribute to a political downfall. But no secret could last forever. As what was mentioned by Nick Joaquim, Marcos needed urinals wherever he went, for he was losing control of his bladder. Blood was seen seeping from the needle wound in his arm, while a sick and confused Marcos was seen in Malacanang during the EDSA revolution.
And the excrements he left said it all. It seemed that in the event that EDSA revolution failed, mother nature will issue a vengeance.
1. Nick Joaquin. 1986. The Quartet of the Tiger Moon: Scenes from the People Power Apocalypse. Manila. Book Stop Incorporation, pp. 99-100
2. Tordesillas, Ellen (10 July, 2022). "A loyal aide-de-camp’s account of the Marcoses’ last hours in Malacañang." Vera Files.
3. Marcos did not give farewell speech to staff before fleeing Malacañang (12 August, 2022) Retrieved from https://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/fact-check/ferdinand-marcos-did-not-give-farewell-speech-staff-before-fleeing-malacanang/
4. Randal, Jonathan (14 March, 1986). "Marcos' Palace Now a Museum Of Excesses." The Washington Post.
5. IMELDA LEAVES A LEGACY OF 500 BLACK BRASSIERES (11 Marcj, 1986) Retrieved from https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1986-03-11-8601180613-story.html