MANILA, Philippines – Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. was exposed to politics at a very young age.
As a young boy, he recalls being afraid of Malacañang Palace after his father was elected president of the Philippines.
“The Palace was like a haunted house. It was old and dark and big. It was very daunting so the 3 of us stayed together…We stayed in a four poster bed. Suddenly in the middle of the night, this man walks in and we thought it was a ghost. It turned out to be a steward and he asked if we wanted anything. So we looked at each other and we asked for fried chicken, coke and ice cream and he said OK.’
“And we thought, ‘Wow, this is really a palace. We can ask for anything.”
As his father grew in power, Bongbong was never out of the spotlight. However, his stay in the presidential palace came to an end after his entire family was removed from power during the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution.
Bongbong admitted one of the hardest things for him to see was his father deteriorating physically until he died in exile.
He also said he had to let go of his anger before he could finally muster the courage to come home.
“Winalanghiya tayo. Mga balasubas. Minura mo lahat ng tao. I just got tired of it. I just decided one day yung angry young man OK pa yun e. May admiration ka sa passionate young man. Pero yung angry old man, hindi na cute yun e. If you keep on going this way, you would be one of those boring old men in the bar sitting in a corner naglalasing. ‘Alam mo, sikat kami duon.’ That was not the future I wanted for myself,” he said.
Asked if he considered a life outside the Philippines, he said: “No. Not for a second.”
In 1991, he decided to come home to the Philippines without informing his mother, former First Lady Imelda Marcos, and sisters.
To facilitate his return, he sought help from his uncle, Danding Cojuangco, who taught him how to get a Moroccan passport.
Bongbong said his return to the Philippines on October 1991 was a “strange, surreal experience.”
“It was chaos. There were falling around the glass walls. Sinabi ko, ‘Mom, umuwi ka na. Yung sinasabi nilang angry crowd, wala. Umuwi ka na. All not true. It's not true what they are saying.’ And she did. In November, everybody came home,” he said.
Bongbong said he never wanted to enter the politics but felt compelled to follow his father’s footsteps. In 1995, he ran for senator but lost in the election. Undaunted, he ran for governor of Ilocos Norte in 1998 and won the first of 3 consecutive terms in the province.
In 2010, he again ran for the Senate and finally won.
Asked what his father would say if he saw him now, Bongbong said: “Sometimes when I’m doing something or there's something put in front of me and it's difficult and I’m racking my brains on what to do. I hear him in my head laughing. ‘O ano? Mahirap ano.’”
ANC PIPOL, May 11, 2012