OPINION: Ferdinand E. Marcos -- Malacanang to Makiki, the book

Buddy Gomez -- Cyberbuddy

Posted at Jun 22 2019 03:04 PM

A sub-head for this blog could very well be: “from 300.00 pesos to 38,000.00 pesos.”

Something confounding and unusual has happened to this book since I first mentioned it (May 10) in the Marcos series I have engaged in. At that time, out of curiosity, I consulted the American Book Exchange (abebooks.com), an online entity representing book dealers around the globe, from which I acquire occasionally used books, out-of-print, antiquarians and even reprints on demand.
“Ferdinand E. Marcos – Malacanang to Makiki” was available, segunda mano, (used) at the price of US$45.00, as I recall.

Pricey, I say, even if such pricing could be a reflection of relative rarity and importance. Nothing unusual there. I checked once again as I was preparing for this manuscript. Lo and behold! Abebooks is now quoting, from three dealers in California, Indiana and Maine, US$738.19, US$738.19 and US$738.35, respectively! That is roughly, rounded out, at current exchange rates, Ph 38,000.00! I purchased my copy in early 1992 for Ph300. I still have the receipt.

It is not known how many copies of the book were actually printed. It could not have been in the thousands. For all I know, the book may not have been carried by a national distributor like “National.” My pro-forma receipt was from an individual and not from a store. The book, evidently, was privately distributed and sold. It is a pity that the author could no longer savor such accolade. He passed on in 1998. And so, let us go for the book itself.

Historiography on the life and times of the deposed dictator will never be complete without the memoirs of the author, Col. Arturo C. Aruiza.

Aruiza was the longest serving military aide of President Marcos. Faithful and loyal, a constant companion for twenty one years. No other individual was known to have ever been at the President’s beck and call for so long and for all times! A 1967 graduate of the Philippine Military Academy and personally handpicked by President Marcos a year after, from the ranks of the Philippine Constabulary. Aruiza was then a young Lieutenant. He was from Mangaldan, Pangasinan.

Aruiza’s book is, of course, authoritative. He was eminently qualified to recall and share his own part in the Marcos story. It is authentic and useful as it recounts factual happenings theretofore unshared with the public and still even at the present time. All retold from unavolidable and understandably human bias, with the Marcos point of view and interpretations of circumstances and happenings dominating the pages.

In a way, Aruiza was expressing the collective Marcos exiles’ sentiments and points of view over what had befallen them. It is a chronicle of the last moments in Malacanang during the chaotic last days of February 1986 immediately before the fall, to the legal travails, and up to Marcos’ dying days while in Hawaiian exile.

“The story of those four days in February, 1986, is told…from the Malacanang Palace side, the first time this has ever been done,” the author claimed.

The book also includes a spate of human interest vignettes of hassles, intrigues, piques and spats within the Marcos Makiki household. Gossipy and juicy, for spice.

Truly, a story told from the inside, as nobody else could have. Aruiza’s opus is self-published in September 1991, 486 pages long. The entity responsible for its production is “ACA Enterprises” with an address in Quezon City. Obviously, ACA stands for Arturo C. Aruiza. The printing establishment is not indicated.

By his own acknowledgements, it appears that he had ‘ghost’ assistance in writing his memoirs. Without naming them, he cited “two women” who did the “research,” which is rather odd since Aruiza speaks mostly of his personal experiences and of his points of view, as the book’s inside flap indicates. He also mentioned a male “journalist-turned-executive” who provided invaluable guidance. In addition, he said “I am grateful to my two editors (nameless for now, by choice).”

The book is well written, professionally. Such literary output, graduates of the Philippine Military Academy are not normally known for. Arguably, however, the ‘remembering’ task could only be performed by the author himself. The actual writing and editing would have been undertaken by ex-Marcos, ex- Malacanang media operatives. I discount any participation by writers known to be Imelda acolytes, simply because of parts in the book revealing “not very nice” gossipy snippets about Meldy.

Adulatory and hero-worshipping of his boss, as to be expected, Aruiza took to task enemies, real and perceived, with angry words. Nothing nice at all about Juan Ponce Enrile, Fidel V. Ramos, the Aquino government, the media, the FBI, and all entities and persons who would not serve their wonts and whims, to which Marcosian dictatorial powers and practices got them inured. And such dramatis personae in Aruiza’s hitlist included me! Funny, but I felt honored. It meant to me that I accomplished my assigned objectives.

On a personal note, I think that the book also seems to be somewhat of a ‘getting back” opportunity at me. Aruiza consistently whined about how I went about my tasks and responsibilities as the Filipino Consul General in their place of exile. Frankly, I did not feel aggrieved being described as the “abiding plague in our lives…….” whose …. “chief preoccupation was to keep track of our doings.” Aruiza devoted a dozen citations in as many pages directed at me personally.

Now, I know that they did bewail the fact that the Marcoses and the Philippine Consulate General, each, had unobstructed equal access to media, in the almost never ending tit-for-tat. An even match! I not only held my own but by my own guts, I was winning and having fun! I relished the thought that in a regime where genuine freedom of expression is diligently practiced, one sassy and irreverent smart alecky, such as I, could go toe to toe with the once feared dictator. And really get away with it! We all must remember that under Marcos Martial Law there was no such concept as ‘Freedom of the Press.’

The book contains some irrelevant errors of fact and misinterpretations of events and circumstances which I find unnecessary anyway in appreciating the book’s value as a primary source of Marcos’ last days. I fully understand the inevitable reason for belly-aching against the world by way of Aruiza’s pained retelling.

Unaccustomed to not being in control, the circumstance the Marcoses found themselves subjected to in their Hawaiian exile, the whining that the book characterizes displays withdrawal symptoms from addictive dictatorial powers.

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.