You need money to run for Philippine president or vice president. And Bongbong Marcos, no doubt, has plenty of it.
After all, Dad and Mom are world-famous for presiding over one of the longest and greediest reigns of plunder in modern history.
Marcos Sr. is No. 2 after Indonesia’s Suharto on the Forbes Magazine’s list of the most corrupt rulers in history. Imelda is still famous for her wild, shameless shopping sprees at Filipino and American taxpayers’ expense.
Still, I’m sure Bongbong could have used an extra 215 million pesos to finance his bid for vice president. After all, the costs of buying votes and bribing elections officials have gone up since his father’s regime.
And he could have had that amount courtesy of Mom. If only Imelda had managed to hide a small precious stone as the Marcoses were fleeing Malacanang 30 years ago.
Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.
Instead, Imelda’s first major campaign contribution to Marcos Jr.’s came in the form of yet another hidden wealth scandal.
Two hundred fifteen million pesos, or roughly $5 million, is the estimated value of the rare 25-carat diamond found in the jewelry collection Imelda once owned. Here’s another stunning twist: the diamond is pink.
That makes it very rare. In fact, there have been only three pink diamonds of more than 10 carats put on sale at Christie’s in the auction house’s 250-year history, according to Reuters.
The director of jewelry at the London-based Christie’s called the discovery “an extremely exciting find.”
Of course, many of us have become accustomed to hearing about yet another revelation related to the Marcoses’ stolen wealth.
Last year, Imelda’s former secretary, Vilma Bautista, was sentenced to two years in prison in New York after she was caught trying to secretly sell Impressionist masterpieces that the Marcoses acquired with money they stole when they were in power.
There are two points worth noting in these scandals.
One, even though some Filipinos either deny or are unaware of the Marcoses’ reign of greed, it’s widely known in other countries, including the United States.
I realized this several years ago after writing a story in a mainstream U.S. news in which I mentioned Imelda and made the mistake of explaining who she is and what she and Marcos Sr. did. A reader posted a comment that essentially said, “This writer thinks we’re so stupid and uninformed that he has to explain Imelda Marcos.”
Yep, no need to explain Imelda or Marcos Sr. Everybody knows what they did.
But these recent revelations about stolen masterpieces and a rare pink diamond underscore an important point: the Marcos plunder was so massive, bits and pieces of evidence of their greed are cropping up 30 years after they were kicked out of power.
In some ways, the story is starting to get old. I imagine the blase reactions to news reports about the Marcoses: “Oh, they found another bank account … “Oh, so they uncovered more jewelry” … “Wow, Imelda sure had an expensive taste.”
Fortunately, the revelations could also help educate young Filipinos on Bongbong Marcos and his bid for power.
After all, Marcos Jr. continues to defend his dad’s dictatorship, painting it as paradise on Earth. The torture, the plunder, the abuse? Never happened, he says.
Recently, he declared: ”Being a Marcos has only given me an advantage I wouldn’t have if I wasn’t a Marcos.”
Well, in a way, Bongbong is right. That rare pink diamond is a reminder of where all the advantages he enjoyed came from.
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