The ‘Golden Age’        

By Artchil B. Fernandez

The Philippines is about to enter an era of the “Golden Age.” This is the promise of a Bongbong Marcos (BBM) presidency.

During the campaign, BBM promised the moon, the stars and heaven to Filipinos to win the presidency. He anchored his quest to the highest post by selling to Filipinos a lie – that there was once a “Golden Age” of the Philippines under the rule of his father. The country was portrayed as a “paradise,” a rich country second only to Japan where Filipinos lived a blissful and prosperous life. BBM even claimed that the country was about to reach the level of Singapore had his dictator father not been overthrown.

Truth is far from the fiction BBM and his campaign propagated. There was no “Golden Age” and in fact, the rule of BBM’s father which lasted for 20 years was a nightmare for the country.

The facts speak for themselves. When Marcos senior assumed the presidency the foreign debt of the Philippines was US$599 million. By the time the Marcos dictatorship was toppled in 1986, the foreign debt of the country stood at US$26 billion. Towards the end of the Marcos regime, nearly half or 44.2 percent of Filipinos were impoverished or lived below the poverty line.

Philippine economy was in a state of collapse in 1983, after seventeen long years of Marcos senior rule. Treasury bill rate rose to an unprecedented 42 percent and inflation was at an all-time high of 65 percent.

This is how University of the Philippines economics professor Emmanuel De Dios describes the real picture of the Philippine economy under Marcos senior. “The economy’s record under Marcos is identical to that of a person who lives it up on credit briefly, becomes bankrupt, and then descends into extreme hardship indefinitely. It would then be foolish to say that person managed his affairs marvelously, citing as evidence the opulent lifestyle he enjoyed before the bankruptcy.”

BBM’s troll farms and vloggers however tried to conceal the truth and deceived the public through the falsehood that there was a “Golden Age” in the Philippines. He then promised to restore the fake “Golden Age.”

It is not surprising that BBM’s campaign slogan was “Babangon Muli” or the country will rise again. The narrative is simple. There was once a “Golden Era” and BBM is going to restore it. Majority of voters bought the lie and gave BBM the presidency. Now that he assumed that presidency, BBM should be made accountable for his false promise.

There was no “Golden Age” to restore for it did not exist. However, it does not mean that BBM should be allowed to renege on his words or turn back on his word.  He promised a “Golden Age” (disregarding the restoration aspect) and his presidency will be defined by this vow.

Rejecting the claim about the past, the promise about the future must be demanded.  BBM convinced Filipinos that he can bring the Philippines to a “Golden Age” where Filipinos will have an affluent life.  His promise to bring down the price of rice to twenty pesos per kilo best captures the “Golden Era” BBM said he will usher.

For a start, BBM inherits a Php 12.76 trillion debt, half of which was accumulated by the Du30 regime. The debt-to-gross domestic product ratio is at 63 percent, slightly higher than the 60 percent threshold. Holding BBM true to his words, the Philippines must rise from this gargantuan debt and should be on the path to prosperity under his rule.

In pre-pandemic days, 6,000 Filipinos every day on average leave the country to work abroad. This massive exodus of Filipino talent indicates a lack of opportunities and better working prospects in the country. If the Philippines will be under a “Golden Age” as promised by BBM, the tide must be reversed.

BBM’s presidency is premised on the advent of a “Golden Age.” This means that under his rule the Philippines will join the rank of Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan. Standard of living will be high, prices of goods and services relatively affordable, and salaries will be at par with developed and rich countries. Instead of traveling abroad to look for jobs, Filipinos will visit other countries for leisure and fun.  This is a “Golden Age” and BBM said only he can bring this.

Filipinos, long-suffering from hunger, poverty, and misery clung to BBM’s words. He must make them come true under his rule. Those who held his words to be true must demand that BBM bring this nation to a “Golden Age.”

Taking his words, it is fitting to say “welcome to the Golden Age” as BBM begins his presidency. With BBM at the helm of national leadership, poverty, hunger, unemployment, low salary, poor and defective education, decrepit bureaucracy, an ailing health system and a host of social problems are now behind the Philippines. The Philippines is on its way to paradise. From now on, nobody will say that the Philippines is a poor and underdeveloped country. After BBM leaves office, G7 will be G8 with the Philippines the eight-member.  After all, BBM vowed a “Golden Age” is dawning.

“Golden Age” and “Babangon Muli” are the expected hallmarks of BBM’s presidency and on these premises, his administration will be measured and judged. He will rise and fall on the basis of his promise. BBM must deliver since he packaged himself as someone who can bring the country out of the current morass. Should he fail, BBM is not only like his dictator father but is the worst version of a “trapo.”

Good luck Philippines!