Cabaero: Marcos, not BBM

·2 min read

It was effective as a campaign strategy but now that Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is about to assume the post of President he should be called by his name, not as “BBM.”

“BBM” came from “Bongbong Marcos” because these are not his initials from his full name of Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr. “Bongbong,” his nickname, sounded childish and is difficult to pronounce by foreign media. Also, “Marcos” as a rally chant sounded close to what activists used to shout, “Marcos duwag” (Marcos coward).

So, it was smart for the election campaign to not use “Bongbong” or “Marcos” and to adopt “BBM” after Marcos filed his certificate of candidacy last October. “BBM” is easier to say, shorter, and it allowed him to avoid using the Marcos name.

The Marcos camp adopted “BBM” in its communications, announcements, rallies, and campaign material. But in the ballot, he was number 7 with his name “Marcos, Bongbong” beside it.

One other benefit for Marcos was that his rebranding provided him distance from the legacy and history of his father, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. The younger Marcos had insisted he should not be judged by his father’s actions and recently was quoted as telling the world, “Judge me not by my ancestors, but by my actions.”

But “BBM” is not his name and government officials and news organizations should avoid using it from now on lest they appear to be part of the campaign strategy that is bringing Marcos back to Malacañang Palace from where his father ruled for 21 years.

The foreign press did not use “BBM” to refer to the presumptive president as it is not his name and it is therefore inaccurate. International news reports named him Marcos or Marcos Jr. or by his full name. Most Philippine media did the same, except for a few that got carried away by the campaign chant or consciously took part in the rebranding of the son.

Newspapers cannot use the letter count as an excuse to avoid naming him as Marcos. Newspapers count letters to allocate print space. In counting letters in the hed (head or headline), newspapers consider units, including spaces, as 1. Lower case f, i, j, l, and t are ½ unit each and lower case m and w, 1 ½ units. Upper case letters are 1 ½ units except for M and W at 2 units each. The name “BBM” has five units; “Marcos” has 4 ½ and thus uses less newspaper space.

This practice of brevity such as in “DU30” for President Rodrigo Duterte and “PNoy” for President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III may have its advantage but the risk of appearing biased outweighs any benefit.

For accuracy’s sake, to not appear to favor one over the other, and to save on newspaper space, use “Marcos” from now on, rather than his initials employed during the campaign.

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