Street Talk – Mga Anak ng Tatay Nila; And Anak ng Ina Niya


In his Manila Times column headlined, “Strategic thinking: Why BBM-Sara are dominating this early, and the others still await a sign from God,” my cousin Yen Makabenta, virtually guaranteed a victory for the tandem whom the tricycle drivers in our neighborhood refer to as Mga Anak ng Tatay Nila.

Additionally, they refer to Marcos Jr. as Anak Ng Ina Niya.

These descriptions translate into very endearing terms in any language. To be referred to as the “son of his father” or “the daughter of her father” can be pregnant with positive and flattering connotations especially if your old man is a famous, highly respected leader or a paragon of heroic virtues. But to be known as a sonnuvathief isn’t a reason for proudly displaying the family crest.

The late President Ferdinand Marcos Sr., father of this Junior who is said to be the leading presidential contender in 2022, was no ordinary individual. He was admittedly brilliant but he craved much more than his already remarkable accomplishments. He attributed to himself more daring military exploits than official records would confirm, and falsely claimed the all-time highest grade in the bar exams (not satisfied with having topped the test when he took it in 1939).

The Guiness Book of World Records did acknowledge that Marcos Sr. took the title for “The Greatest Robbery of a Government” as certified by the Philippine government (“$860.8 million salted away” by Marcos Sr. “and his wife Imelda”) .

This brings up the other description of Marcos Jr. as anak ng ina niya – literally, the son of his mother.

Those who are familiar with the language of the streets know what “Ina niya!” or “Ina mo!” is meant to connote. It is a contraction of a phrase that is not simply unflattering, it is downright vulgar and offensive.

The fact that the complete phrase, “p–tang ina niya!”, flows out of the mouth of the current president like sewer waste doesn’t make it less vulgar. However, mass media have had to tolerate it since it has been so liberally and routinely spewed by the highest official in the land.

What I think it does is to make the daughter of President Rodrigo Duterte and vice-presidential running mate of Marcos Jr., a less admirable person – imagine being known as “Anak ng ama niyang marumi ang bibig!” or daughter of a latrine-mouth!

But to go back to the Ina of presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr., power was what Imelda Marcos was obsessed with. She had the amazing ability to expand her realm…no, not just her jurisdiction but her realm (as in, kingdom) beyond what she had persuaded Marcos Sr. to assign to her.

Did she have a hand in disposessing Rizal Province of main cities, like Pasig, Muntinglupa, Alabang, and incorporating them into Metro Manila? Doubtless. She was Governor of Metro Manila at the time.

In a macho society like the Philippines, Marcos Jr’s mother must have fancied herself as being as much a head of state as Marcos Sr.

As the Minister of Human Settlements, Imelda Marcos, with the “guidance” of Deputy Minister Jolly Benitez, literally (not just virtually) created a parallel government with cabinet-like fully-staffed offices engaged in Agriculture (Green Revolution), Education (University of Life), Housing and Home Financing (Pag-ibig Fund), Transportation (Love Bus), Health (Heart Center), Tourism (PICC), etc., as well as flighty projects like the tragedy-accursed Film Center, the 77.7 square meter house that “could be constructed in 7 hours” (pandering to Marcos Sr’s other-wordly Number 7 fetish), and the slogan, “Walang Pilipinong Pangit” (There is no ugly Filipino) in line with her mantra of “the good, the true and the beautiful.”

During the 20 years of the presidency and dictatorship of Marcos Sr. (January 1966-February 1986), Imelda earned a reputation for excesses in the things she did.

This excerpt that one can easily Google says just part of what the international press has said about her:

“She and her family gained notoriety for living a lavish lifestyle during a period of economic crisis and civil unrest in the country. She spent much of her time abroad on state visits, extravagant parties, and shopping sprees, and spent much of the State’s money on her personal art, jewelry and shoe collections – amassing 3,000 pairs of shoes. She and her husband Ferdinand hold the Guinness World Record for the Greatest Robbery of a Government. The subject of dozens of court cases around the world, she was eventually convicted of corruption charges for her activities during her term as governor of Metro Manila in 2018; the case is under appeal.”

While all these could count against the candidacies of the children of these Ama and Ina, they seem to have no effect on the majority of the voters in the coming election. The “record-breaking notoriety” of the Marcos couple is not common knowledge among them, and is often dismissed as urban legend or fake news and “the usual political dirt” by people who were not born or were still very young during the abusive Marcos years.

The following CNN report is both bad news and a communications challenge to those who want to overtake the Marcos-Duterte team:

“(CNN Philippines, September 11) — Young Filipino voters may make a difference in next year’s national elections as they now comprise 52% of the total registered voters, Commission on Elections (Comelec) director James Jimenez believes.

“That’s how significant the youth vote is in the coming election,”Jimenez said during an online briefing with CNN Philippines on Saturday.

“In his presentation, the official said that as of July, 60.46 million Filipinos are already registered for the 2022 general elections—higher than Comelec’s target of 59 million. Out of that total, 31.41 million voters are in the age group of 18-40 years old, classified as the youth vote.”

That means that the 40-year old voters, who comprise the oldest of the 32.41 million segment, were infants during the People Power revolution. The September 21, 1972 declaration of martial law and the August 1983 assassination of Ninoy Aquino may be, for them, simply part of history. Interesting but not relevant to their daily lives.

The harsh reality is that the majority of next year’s voters may already have been influenced by historical revisionists, on top of regional loyalties, vote-buying, poll cheating and terror tactics.

How to overcome these obstacles? As my cousin Yen puts it, the contenders have to think strategically.

Obviously, there is a need to focus on the “swing voting bloc,” by more carefully analyzing it in the context of the leading candidates.

Yes, it is possible to erode their lead. It happened in 2010 when Noynoy Aquino surged ahead of Manny Villar. Analysts say this required puncturing and sucking the air out of Villar’s lead by linking his name to the toxic name of out-going President Arroyo (i.e., Villaroyo).

In formulating a strategy, the following questions need to be asked: What makes the Marcos-Duterte tandem so appealing? Why don’t the soiled reputation and the profanity of their elders affect them?

What message needs to be delivered to younger voters that will have a personal impact on them?

In the 1961 presidential election, LP candidate Vice-President Diosdado Mgacapagal had to deal with a “spoiler.” Movie star Rogelio de la Rosa had launched a serious bid for the presidency. Also from Pampanga and with a lot of grassroots appeal, De la Rosa posed a real threat to Macapagal.

De la Rosa was eventually persuaded to back out (how, we don’t know), leaving the competition between President Carlos Garcia and Macapagal. Needless to say, elections were simpler then, but it still makes sense for the field to be made narrower with the “strategic withdrawal” of the candidate(s) with the least prospect of winning , as well as the potential for disrupting the surge of the leading candidates.

And speaking of spoilers, President Duterte has said some unflattering things about his daughter’s partner, calling him spoiled and a weak leader. Perhaps it’s a game that Marcos Jr. and the older Duterte are playing, but they are certainly succeeding in confusing their respective regional supporters.

Or maybe the old fox has a brilliant strategy that he plans to reveal at the last minute.

Or maybe this is the “sign from God” that the other candidates may be waiting for.