Going to jail, unless... PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 12 November 2018 12:56

BEHIND  THE  LINES

BY BOB JALDON

Professor Florentino Dauz wrote seven essays on Imelda R. Marcos: IRM and the arts; The woman; Yonson’s portrait of Imelda; The river of her own   people; The active spirit; The master builder; The living mind.

She is going to jail for seven counts of graft — unless, like Juan Ponce Enrile, she pleads old age and incapable of “suffering” in jail in the company of rats and cockroaches. Rewind: September 10, 1969. IRM delivered a speech at the formal dedication of the Cultural Center of the Philippines. That speech, Dauz wrote, was one of those memorable pieces which was “naturally opposed to the vulgarity and savage anger of those whose entire lives had been dedicated to the proposition that the Filipinos were not yet prepared to understanding painting, literature and the arts.”

She was, as her admirers advanced, “responsible for the new consciousness, for the new attitude which before was entirely impossible to expect.” She was alleged to be responsible for the passage in our land of men and women of enormous talents: from ballet to folksongs, and from piano recitals to modern dance. Yet, she is going to jail...unless.

She was actively engaged with the promotion of the “Green Revolution” (something that sportswriter Manny Pinol should cultivate) and was responsible for the development of green-belts around Metro-Manila. She inaugurated the Children’s Library, the Heart Foundation and the various causes dedicated to elevating the social condition of the Filipino people. Still, she is bound for Bicutan.

As the woman, her admirers compared her to Jacqueline Kennedy: the glamor, the mind and the beauty “which in its own way is the rival of the moon in its full and ascending course.” Blas Ople wrote: “Her fascination for music and the dance is a key to her person. Her aspiration is for perfection and this licit desire is at times in conflict with her schedule as a leader.” But still, she is going to the bull pen.

Her efforts to provide housing for the poor in Tondo, Manila and to build several parks for them was among her priorities. Today, her reforms and long-visioned activities are being realized that even detractors are the first to acknowledge the merits of her postulates. A journalist wrote: “Her efforts to beautify Manila, to preserve its ancient ruins, to relocate the slums, to clean the very votaries of city streams are efforts which cannot be realized in one heave.” Rome wasn’t built in one day in the same way as Zamboanga is still being built. Yet, she is going to be locked away. What a tragedy.

Her concern for the poor, the less-gifted and her countrymen, is, as one politician put it, legendary and needs no embellishment. One embassy official said: “She never failed to invite foreign dignitaries to visit the houses of the poor, the hospitals, the training centers for the talented.” The historic Luneta Park would not be what it is today: a happy place for everybody. Yet, she is going to prison. What a shame.

I and eight other journalists that included Jay Sonza, Ding Gagelonia and Tony Antonio interviewed Madam Imelda at her three-story apartment in East Central Park, New York in 1991,  a year before the presidential election. That interview was aired over ABS-CBN’s “Mel and Jay” talk show. She talked of her plans to run for president — which she did and landed third behind the eventual winner, Fidel V. Ramos, and Danding Conjuangco. After the interview, she served us spaghetti and red wine. Then, she sat on the piano and started to serenade us her favorite OPM, “Dahil sa ‘yo.” She was still younger and vibrant and full of grace. Yet, she is going to the brig.