MANILA - "I have two presidents!"
Thus said former First Lady Imelda Marcos immediately after last Wednesday's proclamation of her son, Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., as the next president of the Philippines.
It is the first statement that the public heard from the 92-year-old since Marcos Jr. won the May 9 elections. A video clip of her making the remark was part of the president-elect's latest vlog on YouTube posted on Saturday.
Imelda's husband, the late Ferdinand Sr., assumed the country's highest post in December 1965, and stayed in power until his ouster by the People Power Revolution in February 1986. He died in 1989 at the age of 72.
Amid allegations of plunder and human rights abuses during the incumbency of Ferdinand Sr, the Marcoses won the support of majority of voters in this year's elections, thrusting the late dictator's namesake to the presidency as hoped for by Imelda.
As seen in Marcos Jr's vlog, Imelda, who wore a pink gown, uttered, "I have two presidents!" after her 64-year-old son presented to her a copy of the resolution of Congress proclaiming his victory.
She said it while pointing to a pin with the portraits of her husband and son on her chest.
The next clip showed Marcos Jr. holding a wine glass and telling his mother, "Sa inyo naman ni Daddy lahat ito eh."
(All of these are for you and Daddy.)
During the start of the campaign period for Halalan 2022 last Feb. 8, Imelda said in a video message that her son has a good chance to win the presidential race.
"I will do my best to campaign not only for Bongbong and Sara [Duterte Carpio] but for everybody, all the candidates of the group," she said then, even as she said she is unable to attend the proclamation rally of her son's candidacy in Bulacan because of a "bad fall" she suffered last year.
In his vlog, Marcos Jr. shared how surprised he was when his mother managed to climb the rostrum at the Batasan Complex in Quezon City to join his official proclamation last May 25 by Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III and House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco.
"Nagulat ako dahil nandun ako sa taas, kausap ko si SP (Sotto), kausap ko si Speaker, at nakita ko palapit siya (Imelda). Paglingon ko ulit, andun na siya (sa rostrum). Sabi ko, 'Papaano nakaakyat ito?'," he recounted.
(I was surprised because I was up there, talking to the Senate President and the Speaker, and I could see she was approaching. When I turned around again, she was already on the rostrum. I wondered how she was able to go up.)
"Yun pala, nung tinutulungan siya, isasakay siya sa wheelchair, sabi niya, 'Hindi, hindi. Kaya ko. I can do it, I can do it'," he continued.
(It turned out that when people were helping her and letting her use the wheelchair, she refused and insisted that she can do it.)
"Nandun, umakyat siya nang nakatayo, nakangiti nang malaking-malaki. Nakakatuwa naman. Siguro yung adrenalin niya nagpalakas sa kaniya."
(So she was there. She took the steps and was flashing a very big smile. That was a joyous moment. Maybe, it's the adrenalin rush.)
Imelda, who will turn 93 in July, has been open about her wish for her son to seek the presidency to follow in the footsteps of his father.
"Bongbong is well-educated and he is prepared. And his record in Ilocos is very good. He has been a good executive," she said in a Kyodo News interview in early 2013.
"I'd be privileged and happy, not only because I'm the mother, but because he was molded, even as a child, in an atmosphere of service to people. He knows exactly an idea of what leadership is," the former beauty queen, who wielded immense power during her late husband's dictatorship, said then.
Marcos Jr., a former governor and senator, ran for the vice presidency in 2016, but lost to Leni Robredo.
When he declared his candidacy for the country's top post in October last year, he said he wanted to bring back "unifying leadership" as the country faced the COVID-19 crisis, which he dubbed "one of the greatest tests in its history".
Amid the issues thrown at their family by victims of his father's Martial Law imposition from 1972 until 1981, Marcos Jr. asked the public to "move on and move forward," saying the past cannot be changed and that "blaming others and finding scapegoats are not solutions" to the many problems the country is facing.
Imelda has been found guilty of several counts of graft in lower courts, but has won most of her appeals in higher courts. None of the members of the former first family has been imprisoned.
Since returning to the Philippines in 1991 from a 5-year exile in Hawaii after his father's overthrow, Marcos Jr. and his family have been trying to rebuild their image.
Speaking to the media immediately after his proclamation, Marcos Jr. asked for prayers and well-wishes, saying he wants to "do well for this country."
He reiterated the message in his vlog.
Marcos Jr's term starts on June 30 and will end in 2028.