The Deceiver

The photo above – which should have been captioned “How I met your mother” – was shot (oops!) in September 1974, at the height of China’s Cultural Revolution and months before Ferdinand Marcos’ official trip to China marked the normalization of bilateral relations.

Imelda Marcos made a visit first to pave the way.

Last year, the Chinese embassy in Manila gave her an award, recognizing her contribution to “fostering and promoting understanding” between the two countries.

Marcos Sr ruled the Philippines from 1965 to 1986, declared martial law, killed thousands of people, tortured and jailed tens of thousands more, and looted some five to ten billion US dollars of public money before he was booted out of the country in 1986.

He and his family fled to Hawaii with at least 24 bars of gold and 22 boxes of cash. They were allowed to return in 1991.

Now, Bongbong, the kleptocrat’s son, is president. His mother – she of the shoe collection fame (at least 3,000 pairs) – is probably gloating and smiling from molar to molar.

Bongbong’s victory is viewed as a win for China.

China, ever the shit stirrer, is likely to cultivate its relations with the Marcos family even more.

Emperor Xi is well aware of the fact that America once had, in the Philippines, its largest military base outside American soil.

Bongbong himself has yet to give details on his foreign policy, but his aides are saying it seems he will be moving the needle closer to the middle.

Despite 30 years in public life – as congressman, senator and provincial governor – Baby Marcos has little to show for it. (His mum was also in congress and a sister has a seat in the senate.)

He has lied about having a degree from Oxford and has been convicted of tax invasion, yet he won through subterfuge, disinformation and the Janus-like ability to present different personae to different audiences depending on his personal agenda.

For years pro-Marcos family propaganda accounts have flooded social media, leaving many young Facebook-educated Filipinos believing that the rule of Bongbong’s father was a “golden era” of peace and prosperity, when the Philippines enjoyed stability, high growth and massive investment in infrastructure.

On social media and on YouTube, sophisticated campaigns aggressively push this revisionist version of history. And Filipinos being the world’s most eager consumers of social media, lapped it all up.

I’ve also come to the conclusion that the Filipinos are also the most forgiving people in the world.

Now, this very forgiving lot of people are going to be sorry.

Filipinos are going to get hurt again.

Bongbong has made few promises on the campaign trail, published no policy agenda and appeared in no debates.

His campaign was designed to whitewash his family’s black name.

I doubt he’ll be able to take the Philippines out of the doldrums.

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