The big lie that elected Marcos president

Buddy Gomez — Cyberbuddy

Posted at Mar 05 2021 12:40 AM

No matter how adeptly, maliciously, mercenarily history can be contorted and revisioned, it will never be able to obliterate the background truth behind the principal instrument of Marcos’ victory in the Philippine Presidential elections of 1965. That victory was anchored upon a stunning book, “For Every Tear a Victory.... The Story of Ferdinand E. Marcos.” 

Last week, I referred to that book as “a commissioned and ghost-written autobiography.” I can prove, as others likewise have, that that Marcos book is a document of monumental mendacity. Its contagion may have seeped irreversibly into the ethos of some Filipino quarters which remain incorrigible to this day! That book has become a source of organized disinformation. It may also have been the unspoken anima behind Imelda’s insistence that Marcos’ dessicated remains be interred in the Libingan ng mga Bayani!

Over time, “For Every Tear a Victory” has been unmasked as a self-adulating autobiography masquerading as biography. For campaign propaganda purposes, presidential candidate Marcos commissioned this writing, definitively ‘restrospective myth-making,’ founded upon fraudulent claims of dramatic heroism. 

In a succeeding essay I will revisit, reiterate and share a litany of lies that make up much of Marcos’s story that unfortunately captivated the 1965 electorate.

The book was “authored” by a well-known WWII correspondent, Hartzell Spence, who may have been conned as well as unfortunately inveigled by fee and fame. He consented to be its author of record. Despite copious inquiring notes posed by Mr. Spence, as befits a journalist worth his salt, Marcos himself dictated and edited the final drafts of the book. The bottom line is that Spence’s only source of everything written in that 313-page opus was Marcos himself. No footnotes. No references. No appendices.

Incidentally, that book has been reprinted, even retitled, for popular gratis distribution several times, each time at public expense during martial law times.

Sometime in 2008, I was able to acquire a big boxful of photocopies of the typewritten drafts and other papers and handwritten notes of Hartzell Spence from the archives of the University of Iowa in Des Moines--Spence’s alma mater, to which he bequeathed his professional life’s work. My acquisition was all relative to the writing of that Marcos opus.

I was able to find out that during the preparation of the book, Spence was billeted at the Filipinas Hotel. And also, that he was apparently assisted by an amanuensis commonly serving him and Marcos. His name was Ben. The suspected identity of this individual occasioned a sidebar to “For Every Tear a Victory.” Abetted by curiosity, I sallied into amateur literary forensics deserving a future sequel. 

It was not until Imelda Marcos’ indictment in New York in November 1988 when a tightly kept secret was ‘outed.’ An open letter to the New York Times addressed: ”Dear Imelda:” was a revelation. An old acquaintance wrote: “….we both know what ultimately defeated your opponent….was Ferdie’s biography, ‘For Every Tear a Victory’ written by the best selling author Hartzell Spence and published by McGraw-Hill in New York in 1964……Never in world history has a political campaign been conducted on one issue—a book…” The foregoing words came from the very person who assembled “For Every Tear a Victory” and made it happen! The letter writer was Mr. Leonard Saffir, a professional publicist, public relations author and practitioner. His career data listed, among others, “Consultant Ferdinand Marcos.”

Mr. Saffir continues with “Dear Imelda:” “…..on the occasion of your visit to New York, let the record show that ‘For Every Tear a Victory,’ the book that won Ferdie the presidency of the Philippines, the book the two of you have always maintained no involvement with, will go down in history as the world’s most successful vanity publishing venture.” 

“I’ll never forget that Ferdie threatened to have me killed if I revealed that he paid Mr. Spence $15,000 to write the book and guaranteed the sale of 10,000 copies to McGraw-Hill. I kept your secret because I believed in him.”

At the time that I was in touch with University of Iowa archives, I also sought out Mr. Saffir. I found him in semi-retirement in Palm Beach, Florida. I telephoned him a couple of times, wanting more about his letter, hoping that he might add wider vistas. He did share with me the circumstances leading to his engagement with a then “relatively obscure senator,” who was in search of an American publicity vehicle. Such information was passed on to him by Eddie Martelino, who Saffir claims he had met and befriended at the NYC Press Club bar. I am unable to verify if Martelino was our NY Consulate’s press attaché at that time or whether he was precisely sent over to New York to scout around for professional services for the Marcos ‘life story’ project, apparently already conceived as launching pad for his presidential ambition. 

Eddie Martelino is the same Major Eddie “Abdul Latiffe” Martelino who figured in the infamous Jabidah Affair. What Mr. Saffir shared with me was indicative of a long existing relationship between Ferdinand E. Marcos and Eddie Martelino. Reason enough, of course, for President Marcos to entrust a very delicate operation to an evidently recently minted Air Force Major named Eddie Martelino in 1967. About the time of encounter with Mr. Saffir in New York, Martelino was a columnist or an editor of a Manila tabloid. 

“Dear Imelda” continues: “I hope you don’t mind my calling your husband Ferdie. That’s what you both asked me to call him back in 1962 in Manila, when we sat around your dining room table, mapping out plans to fulfill his dream of becoming president.”

I came to know, later on, that Mr. Saffir was in search of a patron who could finance a documentary of his experiences with the Marcoses. There were no takers. When I tried to be in touch again, I encountered an obituary. He was 85 on the date of his demise in June of 2014.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Tomas 'Buddy' Gomez III began his professional media career in ABS-CBN's (previously Chronicle Broadcasting Network) DZQL-Radio Reloj in 1957, after which he spent 25 years with the Ayala Group.

In 1986, the then Pres. Cory Aquino appointed him Consul General to Hawaii and later served as her Press Secretary.

During the Ramos administration, he was chairman and president of state-owned IBC-13 Network.

After government service, he became an ‘OFW’ in the U.S., working as front-desk clerk and then assistant general manager of a hotel. He also worked as a furniture and antique restoration specialist.

He is now retired and lives in San Antonio, Texas.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.