By Artchil B. Fernandez
Nearly half a year in office, the Marcos agenda is becoming more and more apparent. The scheme of the Marcoses has nothing to do with the welfare of Filipino people but it revolves around their selfish interest.
The Marcoses sought power not out concern for the sad plight of the Filipino people but to refurbish their badly damaged reputation and cover-up their evil deeds by rewriting history with lies and falsehoods. This is clear in the actions of the current administration many of whom are poor mimicry of what the dictatorship of Marcos senior did.
Revival of the “Kadiwa” program which was the brainchild of the other half of the conjugal dictatorship Imelda Marcos is one attempt of BBM to return the country to its dark past. The senior Marcos launched the program to address high prices of food at that time. Its limited reach never benefitted the vast majority of Filipinos. BBM is once again using the same tired, old trick of his dictator father to deal with the current 8 percent inflation rate Filipinos are suffering from. Kadiwa with its limited reach and doubtful sustainability once again has no impact and has failed to bring down the high prices of goods, a major problem of Filipino families at present.
Not to be outdone, his sister Imee Marcos is going around the country distributing “nutribun.” During the 2022 presidential campaign “nutribun” is one lie peddled by the Marcoses claiming it was one of the “good deeds” of the Marcos dictatorship. Truth is the distribution of nutribun in the 70s was a program of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to combat widespread malnutrition among Filipino children. The program revealed the depth of malnutrition problem under the elder Marcos dictatorship and the distribution of the buns was one palliative solution to the problem. Nutribun is a symbol of malnutrition.
Perhaps the most controversial attempt so far of BBM to burnish the severely tattered image of the Marcoses is pushing for the creation of Maharlika Wealth Fund (MWF) under House Bill (HB) No. 6398 (reincarnated as HB No. 6608). The word “Maharlika” is closely associated to the bid of the Marcoses to perpetuate their lies.
At the height of the rule of Marcos senior, the dictator tried to change the name of the country from “Philippines” to “Maharlika” and Filipinos should be called “Maharlikanese.” Even with his dictatorial power, Marcos senior to failed to realize his plan due to strong resistance from the Filipinos people. The idea was universally ridiculed by the public, forcing the dictator to abandon the idea.
Maharlika, the Marcoses claim stands for nobility but historians have proven “maharlika” means freed men in pre-hispanic Philippines – “timawa” in the Visayas. “Ang Maharlika” is also the name given by Marcos senior to his fictional guerilla unit during World War Two. The lie was used by Marcos senior to manufacture his fake war medals. Records at US National Archives exposed the treachery Marcos senior, confirming such unit never existed.
Marcoses are also trying to push the fiction that there was once a kingdom called Maharlika before the coming of the Spaniards ruled by the ancestors of the non-existing Tallano family. They used the bogus story to explain their ill-gotten wealth by lying that the fake Tallano family gave Marcos senior tons of gold in exchange for some legal services. Myth of the Kingdom of Maharlika and the fabled Tallano gold were used by the Marcoses to “justify” and rationalize their vast stolen wealth.
There is no historical evidence – physical, documentary or anecdotal that there was a Kingdom of Maharlika in the Philippines or in the Southeast Asian region. The fiction is aggressively promoted by the Marcoses in the digital world to pollute the platform with their lies and cover-up the truth about the source of their ill-gotten wealth.
Naming the proposed sovereign wealth fund pushed by the Marcos family as “Maharlika” is their way of legitimizing their lie and fiction. From the fringes, they are putting their lie on the mainstream and at the center of national discourse. “Repeat a lie a thousand times and it becomes the truth” Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels counseled. In psychology, this is called “subliminal conditioning.”
By labeling their major undertakings as “Maharlika” the Marcoses are trying to ingrain and etch in public consciousness their lies and make them acceptable to the people. By associating their major actions to “Maharlika” the Marcoses are conditioning Filipinos to accept the lies and falsehoods behind the word.
“Maharlika” as used by the Marcoses stands for a fictional kingdom, the fake guerilla unit, myth of Tallano gold, ill-gotten wealth and historical distortion. By repeating the word, again and again, linking it to the major acts, programs and activities of the administration, the Marcoses are not only glossing over their dark past but are also trying to make their lies palatable to the public.
Aside from using limited public funds for investment in financial markets which is not what a sovereign wealth fund is, the Marcoses have a broader agenda in pushing for the “Maharlika Wealth Fund.” Dipping their dirty fingers on the money of the Filipino people is not their only goal. Aptly naming the scheme as “Maharlika” is not only symbolic to them, it also their way of “normalizing” their lies and falsehoods.
It is tragic for the Filipino people as they groan under the skyrocketing prices of goods and services the priority of the leader they elected is not to solve and manage the problems but rehabilitating his family’s damaged image and pushing their selfish agenda.