A romance that began with deception

By Buddy Gomez

Posted at Aug 26 2015 09:54 PM | Updated as of Aug 27 2015 05:54 AM

Here is our fourth in the sequence of chosen seven among Ferdinand E. Marcos’s most blatant of lies.

For sure, Imelda would rather not be reminded of this. But who really knows, after all, she has survived triumphantly and continues to bask in the limelight, somewhat limited it may be from what she had gotten accustomed to when she reigned.

While she now lives and dreams in a world she has fashioned for herself, there is still much much more left to be savored and enjoyed of the undiscovered purloined fruits of her union with the lothario who dazzled and swept her off her feet almost from the very moment he set his eyes upon her. Maybe she can even really afford to smile and dismiss what might have been once a truly painful past.

The 1954 summer courtship of Imelda Romualdez, the Waray-waray beauty, “Rose of Tacloban,” “Miss Leyte” and “Muse of Manila” by the aggressively suave Ilocano lover boy, Ferdinand E. Marcos reached legendary heights as it was recounted for public political consumption, in book form and even portrayed on film courtesy of Sampaguita Pictures, “Iginuhit ng Tadhana.” (A political propaganda movie based on “For Every Tear a Victory” and all the fraudulencies the book flaunted.) This was all part of the 1965 elections campaign playbook. Then unbeknownst to all, with Marcos winning the Presidency, the era began the sorriest chapter in Philippine history. We remember that Imelda was celebrated as the campaign’s “secret weapon.” Made for each other as no other pair, ever!

With a cocky abandon of scruples, Marcos unabashedly utilized stories of his 1954 whirlwind, eleven-day courtship of the lass from Leyte and their fairy tale-like wedding as part and parcel of the glamour and romance, indispensably useful political accoutrements, to entertain and mesmerize the mass electorate, to sway them and capture their votes. It was unprecedented political zarzuela that was famously successful, as we all know. A marital union from which a country suffered.

At the time of the courtship when he was the Congressman representing the 2nd District of Ilocos Norte (a post now occupied by the incredible Imelda, and also the same representation once held by his father Mariano Marcos), Marcos was rumored to have even flaunted a carefully crafted reputation of being the most eligible bachelor in the Congress of the Republic. While the marriage relationship eventually became so mutually rewarding in pelf and power, the Ferdie-Meldy romance in fact actually began with a deception. An otherwise incapacitating civil status smoke-screened out by the razzle-dazzle of an impetuous and exuberant conquering lover who would not take no for an answer.

Behind the bold pursuit and the impressive succession of generous gifts during the dizzying pace of courtship, what Ferdie kept away from the young and impressionable Imelda was the disqualifying truth that he already had a family with three children who together with their mother lived with Marcos! They all lived together in apparent conjugal bliss with his mother, Dona Josefa, in the very house that Imelda was to call, eventually, her conjugal abode.

How Marcos was able to maneuver the exit of his first family to prepare the entry of Imelda can only be rife with speculations. To make matters worse, according to Primitivo Mijares, in his blockbuster let-it-all-hang-out expose of a book--“The Conjugal Dictatorship,” a fourth child was born even after Imelda was already officially Mrs. Ferdinand E. Marcos. Primitivo Mijares was a close confidante of the dictator and was the Marcos Martial Law press censor. Pangs of conscience may have led to a dramatic epiphany, then followed the writing of his book at the same time that he testified before a US Congressional investigative hearing. Mijares disappeared without a trace.

Many intimates were to say that the “other woman,” the mother of Marcos’ first set of three children, much ahead of Imelda’s, was Dona Josefa’s truly favored mate for her son. No doubt the knowledge of which may indeed have added to Imelda’s discombobulating agony. Carmen Ortega, in her near-sainted silence brought up her Marcos brood with great unheralded respectability, never ever known to have created any stir nor a publicly audible whimper, if at all. Amazing grace and admirable equanimity! And so unimeldific, this Carmen.

And then imagine the horror of Imelda. On finding out that there already was a “Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.” long before she could gift her husband with a male heir. Then she comes to know from a Romualdez cousin that this “other woman” was previously introduced socially as “Mrs. Marcos.” Imagine that these unnerving discoveries may have caused Imelda’s visit to New York City’s Presbyterian Hospital for emotional redirection and medical intervention. Then perhaps, this episode in her life must have been Imelda’s most poignant “ad astra per aspera” moment. (To the stars, through adversity!) Such was the path that led to the tempering of “the Steel Butterfly." She did stay the course. And persevering, conquered!

Knowing what we know now about Marcos, it is a fair pursuit to play “what if” games laced with conspiracy theorizing. How possible then might it have been that Ferdinand was already married to Carmen Ortega in the Aglipayan Church, of which Marcos was then an adherent? (Or, even simply civilly?) What enchanting conjurements did sorcerer Ferdinand cast and what inducements dangled to have found in Carmen a consenting spouse to a Faustian proposition? Would an educated and moral mother, a public school teacher, like Dona Josefa Edralin vda. de Marcos, during Philippine society’s more conservative times and clime, have consented to living in the same house with her son and the woman who had begotten him three children already, without benefit of clergy? Otherwise, wouldn’t it have been a neighborhood scandal? After all, Carmen Ortega was presented and accepted as the earlier “Mrs. Marcos” of the time, if we are to accept family anecdotes presented as history by Betsy Romualdez-Francia and Primitivo Mijares.

Permutating further, it is also easily within the realm of possibility that public recording of documents such as birth and death certificates can indeed be altered or even made to “disappear.” Examples are available. There was a John F. Kennedy biography that mentions a marriage previous to Jacqueline Bouvier, the documentary evidence of which was alleged to have been caused to be pilfered from the Public Registry in Miami, Florida. It is known to have happened in the Philippines, too. A long past prominent Metro Manila Mayor has been rumored to have bribed the Civil Registrar to expunge and “make” disappear records of a previous civil marriage so that the Mayor could remarry “legally.”

If for nothing else, Ferdinand E. Marcos will remain the greatest “puzzlement” of Philippine history and society. Might as well, an indictment of Philippine society at large. Gullibility, indeed, has consequences! As my Cantonese friends would say in wonderment, “how can?” “how can?”

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Click on these links for other pieces on Ferdinand E. Marcos’s most blatant of lies:

Marcos caught in a foxhole fraud

Marcos, according to Marcos

Marcos’ 'Major' Escapade

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