[OPINION] Time to look at the glass half full

You could rant and rave endlessly  over the return to power  of the Marcos family and refuse to accept their victory – questionable in many aspects as it was. Or you could assume a philosophical attitude and view the recent presidential election as a glass half full instead of half empty.

It was, in fact,  a relatively peaceful exercise – as “clean” as any Philippine election that money can buy – with exasperatingly predictable results (some have likened it to looking on  helplessly as your daughter runs off with a married man).

Of course, you could take the attitude of Gen. Douglas MacArthur and declare: “There is no substitute for victory!” But he also vowed, “I shall return!” – and he did return. Just as the family of Ferdinand Marcos did…over 36 years.

Me? I’m taking a pragmatic attitude. While I would not subscribe to the alleged advice of the late Senator and Foreign Affairs Secretary Raul Manglapus (“If rape is inevitable, lie back and enjoy it!”), I think it helps to ease your disappointment by looking at the good side of the Phoenix-like reemergence of the Marcoses. More specifically, the return to power of Imelda Romualdez Marcos.

No, I am not flip-plopping and trying to fish for favors. As an opinion writer,  I have been  consistent in my views.

In my book, Confusions  of a Communications Man,” (page 318, The positive side of politicians), I wrote:

“While I may be harsh in my criticism of politicians and public officials in my columns, I readily acknowledge and even praise their positive qualities…

“So much dirt has been hurled at former First Lady Imelda Romualdez-Marcos that people overlook the  fact that she had great vision when she and President Marcos were in power. She was also a tireless worker and was hands-on and paid attention to the minute details.

“The Cultural Center of the Philippines, the Philippine International Convention Center, the Folk Arts Theater and the Philippine Heart Center are proof of her vision. So was the now- gone Nayong Pilipino.

“Her critics spitefully refer to them as examples of her ‘edifice complex’ (a non sequitur pun of Oedipus Complex) and they like to bring up the tragic collapse of the Film Center to underscore  her supposed heartlessness. But I recall, shortly after President Cory  Aquino assumed office, how the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra was starved of funding and how the culturally inclined said they missed the Ma’am.

“I am personally aware of this because the Philippine Philharmonic Society had to be organized to raise funds for the symphony orchestra. I was on the board of trustees with  Ed Angara as chairman (before he became a senator).”

Indeed, as a survivor and practitioner of the unforgiving demands and disciplines of advertising and showbusiness,  I could not help admiring Imelda’s work ethic. Of course, ranged against these positive qualities were the negatives of legendary extravagance, profligacy and acquisitiveness.

The problem of Imelda Marcos was that she regarded the national treasury as her personal piggy bank from which she would routinely withdraw huge sums for her personal use.

Furthermore, the scuttlebutt, even among her staff, was that she and President Marcos were in the mining business (“This is mine, that is mine and whatever is yours should also be mine!”).

It should come as no surprise to anyone, including Bongbong Marcos, that his initials and nom de guerre – BBM – also means Babalik Ma’am or Meldy.

The reality is that those who voted Marcos Junior for President also unwittingly voted  Imelda into a parallel presidency.

When the elder Marcos was in power, Imelda carved out a parallel government for herself in the Ministry of Human Settlements.  Her Undersecretary Jolly Benitez, who was briefly a PR client of Advertising & Marketing Associates during my tenure as CEO, was never shy about being a kind of Rasputin to Imelda. Benitez would cheerfully relate feeding her with bright ideas and then persuading her that they were actually based on her original concepts.

The bright ideas would translate into fully staffed offices run by technocrats mounting such diverse programs as the Pag-Ibig Fund (low-cost housing)  Green Revolution (agriculture and rural development), the University of Life (education and sports), the Love Bus (public transportation), the Philippine Heart Center and the rehabilitation of the Philippine General Hospital (health), the PICC (convention and tourism promotion), the Cultural Center complex and the ill-fated Film Center which was rushed for Imelda’s International Film Festival.

In addition, Benitez showcased the construction of a 77.7 square meter pre-fab home in 7.7 hours and the production of a TV sitcom, “77 Pag-Ibig Lane.”

It doesn’t require clairvoyance to deduce whose boots were being licked with these activities. Marcos Senior considered 7 as his lucky number.

Imelda also wielded much power as Governor of Metro Manila. And one must admit that her battalion of street sweepers kept the metropolis clean. I distinctly remember being in Bangkok in  the 70s and feeling good about the comparative cleanliness of Manila.

Whatever one might think of these programs and projects and whose bank accounts were generously stocked, they were significant and revealed a vision.

That’s the good news about the return to power of the Marcoses The  proverbial glass half full.

But what about the bad news? What about the  glass half empty?

Well, all I can say is fasten your seat belts and pray that this will only be a 6-year ride.

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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gregmacabenta@hotmail.com

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