Batuhan: Too Young?

·3 min read

There is an iconic Martial Law-era black and white photograph of the Marcos family that to me, best describes the mental and emotional state of the man who would want to be president of the republic for the next six years.

I’m sure many of our readers who were already around at the time will be very familiar with the image in question. It is a picture of the dictator’s inauguration, after supposedly winning the snap presidential elections that he called in 1986, where he was challenged by (and lost to) the widow of the late Sen. Ninoy Aquino, whose assassination was allegedly ordered by the late dictator. In fact, this was just days after the Marcos family left the country for Hawaii in ignominious circumstances, driven out by a Filipino people who have had enough of the Marcoses, their plunder of the nation’s coffers, and the human rights abuses the dictatorship committed against the country.

Taken at the balcony of Malacañang Palace, it shows the entire first family standing in solidarity with their about-to-be-deposed dictator father, as he was waving to a small crowd of loyalists below. The late Marcos was clad in the traditional barong Tagalog, and Imelda and the sisters dressed in their Maria Clara ternos. The then 29-year-old Bongbong was clad in army combat fatigues, trying to look as if he was part of his father’s much-feared military machinery, which at that point has almost all defected to the opposition camp. The image is still very much in circulation, and anyone who may be unfamiliar could easily find it somewhere in the internet.

I find this photograph interesting for so many reasons, chief among them is the fact that it clearly shows that the man who now wants to be the nation’s leader was very much a responsible individual during Martial Law.

Taken in 1986, the “young” Bongbong was already a mature 29-year-old man at the time. Viewed in context against men of similar age, Jesus Christ commenced his ministry around the time he was thirty years old. Our national hero Dr. Jose Rizal was martyred at the age of thirty-five. Sanna Marin, the current prime minister of Finland, was only thirty-four when she assumed her nation’s highest post. And Bongbong himself was already a “lieutenant” in the Armed Forces of the Philippines when his late father’s rule was about to end.

Why am I taking so much time to lay this out in much detail? Well, for the simple reason that in his “defense,” his apologists vehemently claim that he was “too young” during his father’s dictatorial rule, and therefore should not be blamed for any of its excesses.

“Too young” at 29? Me thinks not.

He admits today that he was aware of their privilege and wealth at that time, with his father supposedly telling him that this was from “the Filipino people.”

Well, he should have been wise enough to realize that on the presidential salary, his father would not have been able to afford the lifestyle they were enjoying, and certainly would not have been able to send him to Oxford, where he got a special diploma for class participation, in whatever subject it was that he was supposed to have taken up in that institution. Unless, of course, he was doing things that he should not have been doing, had he been a good and honest president.

So what does it tell us then about the character of this “man” who knew nothing of what went around him at the mature age of 29? For me, one thing and one thing alone. That maybe, at the ripe old age of 64, he still knows nothing of what is going on in the world around him.

And so, we must ask ourselves as a nation — Do we want a leader who seems to be mentally and emotionally ill-prepared for the job, aside from being clearly complicit in the sins of the father — to lead our country for the next six years?

You decide.

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