As the eldest son of President-elect Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. and lawyer Liza Araneta, Ferdinand Alexander Araneta Marcos, known to all as Sandro Marcos, has been gearing up to jumpstart his political career.
As the congressman-elect of the 1st District of Ilocos Norte, Sandro follows in the footsteps of his father, previously the representative of Ilocos Norte’s 2nd District. Beating incumbent Rep. Ria Fariñas, he takes over the Marcos’ bailiwick and solidifies his position in local politics by becoming a political neophyte at the age of 28 years old.
Born in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte, Sandro thanked his constituents during his proclamation in early May.
“It is truly an honor to stand before my kakailian (province-mates) and be called the congressman-elect of the 1st district of Ilocos Norte. Thank you to all of you for giving me the privilege to serve, there’s much work to be done,” said the younger Marcos, who cited his past experience working at the Office of House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, Sandro’s uncle.
However, his rise to the limelight has been a gradual but conscious effort.
While his father’s YouTube channel is interspersed with videos of the entire family, Sandro is his most frequent guest, appearing alongside the elder Marcos in several videos titled “BBM vlogs,” with slicked-back hair, a polo shirt, and a mild-mannered disposition.
Sandro’s features in the BBM vlogs are a crowd favorite, creating a father-son dynamic that easily draws in thousands of likes, comments, and views.
In fact, Ferdinand Jr.’s most popular YouTube video – “BBM VLOG #181: TRENDING?!” – features Sandro himself. In the 6-minute-clip, they react to various TikTok videos in relation to the presidential campaign, gaining a total of more than 300,000 likes, nearly 24,000 comments, and 6 million views. In the vlog, their bond is palpable.
Other videos with similarly quippy video concepts have overwhelmingly positive reactions. Ranging from “BBM VLOG #76: Google Challenge” and “BBM VLOG #172: Fast Talk with Sandro”, both videos have received an average of 2 million views.
As a result of his adjacent online presence to his father, Sandro has become an online celebrity, regarded by some netizens as an internet heartthrob. Fans have dedicated whole accounts to him, producing videos superimposed with filters and backgrounded by cheesy love songs. Netizens have even created fan fiction, formulating a plethora of stories revolving around the presidential son.
When asked about Sandro’s connection to young online users, John Nery, columnist at the Consortium on Democracy and Disinformation, said the Marcos strategists posited that as the family’s millennial heir, Sandro had “great potential to be an influencer,” thereby solidifying the family’s celebrity status in the Philippines.
Despite his overwhelmingly positive media reception, Sandro has also received criticism for actions or posts that users have deemed to be “ignorant”. Sandro first drew flack in 2016 during his father’s vice-presidential run when he shaded two presidential candidates by accident, consequently invalidating his presidential vote.
In a video by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Sandro stood up and asked one of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) for a new ballot. Replying, the BEI claimed: “Hindi po namin ’yun pwede i-cancel … Ituloy mo na lang, sir. Kung kasalanan namin papalitan namin, pero kung kayo po hindi.”
After initially denying any troubles with his ballot, Sandro took to Facebook to address the situation, posting: “Yes, I shaded two presidents, it was an honest error on my part. I was a first-time voter and extremely nervous. I voted for [Rodrigo] Duterte as president and saw the number 4 right after, so shaded that as it was my dad’s number. I ended up shading [Grace] Poe’s name instead of my dad’s, so my presidential vote didn’t count. Once again, it was an error on my part, and I think people need to relax a little bit, we all make errors now and then. At least my VP vote was right.”
In a more recent instance, during the recent election cycle, Sandro was criticized by users during an interview with Filipino blogger and opinion columnist RJ Nieto, also known as ThinkingPinoy. A clip of the interview, which drew 1.7 million views on Twitter, depicted Sandro asking the meaning behind the acronym DH, in which he states: “Anong ibig sabihin ng DH? Ano ba ’yan? (First of all, what does DH mean? What is that?)” In response, Nieto clarified the meaning of the acronym.
Users responded in anger, saying the video showed Sandro was out of touch with the Filipino people. A Twitter user went so far as to comment on Sandro’s tone during the interview, stating that “Aside from the fact that he doesn’t know what DH means, the way he asked also bothers me a lot.” Another user reflected a similar sentiment, stating that: “Sandro Marcos is running for a political post, and yet has no idea what DH means. It only means that your family has no intentions of providing secured jobs for the Filipinos. You’re just craving for power to be in your hands again. History will still remain intact no matter what.”
Despite these separate instances, Sandro has maintained a loyal base of followers, ultimately catapulting him as congressman of the 1st District of Ilocos Norte.
In a previous interview with “Spotlight”, the Daily Tribune’s online lifestyle show, Sandro has emphasized his continued connection to Ilocano culture despite his extended stint in the United Kingdom to pursue further education (graduating from the University of London for his undergrad and the London School of Economics for his masters).
He described his penchant for Ilocano food, saying: “Whenever I visit, you will always catch me eating empanada. I have to say that my favorite thing to do there is to eat Ilocano food.”
He added that his father’s Ilocano influence has extended to his personality, saying: “People would call me kuripot (frugal) which Ilocanos are known for. So maybe that’s the Ilocano part that I got.”
In his pastime, Sandro has expressed an interest in house music, even DJ-ing in various clubs in the United Kingdom and the Philippines as a hobby. He was also previously on his college’s polo team.
Editor's note: AMELIE ORTIZ DE LEON is an intern at news.abs-cbn.com. She is an incoming sophomore at Barnard College of Columbia University, intending to double-major in political science and film studies.