Bongbong on EDSA 1: 'This too shall pass'

This article first appeared on Yahoo! Philippines' election site, Purple Thumb, in February 2010. Bongbong Marcos, who was then seeking a Senate seat, has since been elected and his mother Imelda is currently Ilocos Norte's Representative.

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If February 25, 1986 was tagged as the Philippines’ shining moment in world history, it was a day the Marcoses would rather forget.

"For me it was just a temporary glitch in our lives. We just had to be brave and focused. And do what we think was the right thing. This too shall pass, that phrase came up a lot in 1986,” said Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., the only son of the legendary couple Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, as he recalled what EDSA 1 meant to his family.

Fateful day

As events unfolded in 1986, which saw the defection of the key military officials, Catholic church’s Jaime Cardinal Sin calling for people’s support, Bongbong recalled that he was busy trying to keep the Palace safe. Having had military training, Bongbong was among the key figures carrying out orders from his father.

"I was involved in the military aspect of it because I’ve been told of some reports. My father called me in on a Tuesday and Wednesday and [told me] this is the plan of these people, you go talk to the other officers, find out what they were thinking and get more intelligence," Bongbong told Yahoo! Southeast Asia, referring to former defense minister Juan Ponce Enrile and then Philippine Constabulary head Fidel V. Ramos.

Enrile and Ramos rebelled against Marcos, out of fear for their lives, following the supposed massive election fraud by Marcos’s camp during the 1986 snap elections.

Because reports of attacks were persistent, Bongbong said they knew they had to prepare for the worst.

"We knew that the situation was war...that there was going to be shooting. In the end, there wasn’t really much because my father refused to give the order to shoot. But we were ready in case that had come," Bongbong said, noting that his father also wanted to prevent bloodshed.

But millions continued gathering in EDSA, making it harder for the remaining loyalists to disperse the throng.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Upon prodding of then U.S. President Ronald Reagan, the Marcoses prepared to leave Malacanang, their home for over two decades.

"We were deciding where to put our people, what assets to put where. [We were] trying to build up the supplies, all the things we needed," Bongbong said. Through all these happenings, Bongbong recalled he never saw his father cry or panic, although they were well aware they have lost their grip to power.

"There was very little time to panic, or to be scared or to cry because there was so much to do," he said.

Corazon Aquino, widow of martyred Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. and Marcos’ opponent in the snap elections, was then sworn in as the first woman president.

The flight to Hawaii

The Marcoses had power, money and fame. But on that historic day, they claimed to have lost everything.

"We knew by then the Americans had deceived us. So we were all thinking: what happens now? What happens next? We just didn’t know what was in store for us. We had no idea what was gonna happen once we landed," Bongbong said.

Upon arriving in Hawaii, Bongbong recalled losing even the clothes they were wearing.

"I did not have any at all. The Americans took everything. I have nothing that’s pre-86. I owned nothing that’s older than 1986. Even my clothes, they took away. They took everything," Bongbong said.

Bongbong who spent all his life in the halls of power said they eventually endured a hard life in the United States.

"For the first couple of weeks we were wearing donated clothes from Hawaii...from people we’ve never met. And they were in our house, and they were bringing food, clothes, and appliances. Our lives completely depended on strangers," he added.

"But I always viewed it as a temporary situation," Bongbong said, noting that while in the U.S., all they wanted to do was return home.

Five years after the 1986 People Power revolution, Bongbong came home.

"It was time to come home because if we stayed in Hawaii, that would have been it. That would be the end of everything," he said.

Bongbong has eventually returned to power as Representative of the 2nd district of Ilocos Norte, a Marcos stronghold.

He is now running for the Senate.

"I guess EDSA is relevant in the sense that it is part of history. But it really is no longer the central things in my life anyway. I think more in terms of the future than in the past. And to talk about all of these things could be interesting but it really does not impact much on us anymore," said Bongbong.

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