The Great Liar: How Marcos fabricated his war record
President Duterte says Ferdinand Marcos deserves to be buried at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani, not because he was a hero, but because he was a soldier.
But what kind of soldier was Marcos?
We already know the answer: At best, he was a delusional fraud who had no qualms about making up stories about what he did during the war.
At worst, he was the cynical leader of a band of wartime thugs.
This was already confirmed by investigative reports by such media organizations as the New York Times and UPI, which exposed Marcos as a fake hero, and the guerrilla unit he claimed to have led, a band of traitors who sold contraband to the Japanese forces and harassed Filipino civilians.
Now here’s good news: You can now read (and download) the actual documents that exposed Marcos’ fraudulent claims thanks to the UP Diliman’s Third World Studies Center.
The center has begun making available to the public digital copies of “File No. 60, Marcos’ Maharlika files” from the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.
The documents include letters and reports from August 1945 to March 1948 when Marcos was lobbying the United States to recognize him as the commanding officer of a guerrilla unit called “Ang Mga Maharlika.”
You can skip the rest of this column and go straight to the documents to read for yourselves on the UP Third World Studies Center site.
I recommend you start with the December 18, 1945 letter from Marcos to the U.S. military. It includes what’s supposed to be a history of “Ang Mga Maharlika.” It reads like a cheap, cheesy marketing pitch.
Marcos crafted one fantastic lie.
“Ang Mga Maharlika was spawned from the dragging pain and ignominy of the Death March and the filth and disease of Concentration Camp in Capas,” he writes.
“In this interim when the prisoners-of-war suffered the greater mental pain of half wishing death but still hoping once more to ‘hold a gun again,’ grew such hatred for the enemy as could be quenched with his blood alone.”
One of those prisoners was Marcos himself, then a captain, whom “the Japanese flogged in the summer sun on the road from Bataan to Pampanga,” the letter says. With him that day enduring torture was a fellow soldier, Major Simeon Valdez with whom he imagined making a dramatic promise.
Marcos continues: “There was not much strength nor opportunity for talk but on those few occasions when their eyes met, over and above the look of pain was the fierce and vehement whisper, ‘never, never to forget this.’”
From there, Marcos spins a tale of courage and military daring in which he and his band of guerrillas essentially play a pivotal role in defeating the Japanese forces.
In fact, Marcos writes (Page 26), he became such an important figure in the Filipino resistance movement, “it seemed as if the Japanese were after him alone and not anybody else.”
The documents in digital form are a bit faded now, but the typewritten words and Marcos’ signature are still clear and easy to read.
You can picture Marcos, then in his late 20s, typing this letter, thinking he’d be able to dupe the Americans into including his fantasy in the official record of World War II and even earn some extra cash and benefits from the U.S. military.
Well, the Americans didn’t buy it.
A March 1948 report submitted by the investigating officer assigned to look into Marcos’ claims concluded that Ang Mga Maharlika “under the alleged command of Ferdinand Marcos is fraudulent.”
In fact, the officer called the “insertion of his name” in an official U.S. military document “a malicious criminal act.”
Marcos was never punished for this malicious criminal act. These documents, including his letters, were stuffed in a box and stored in a room at the U.S. National Archives.
Unfortunately for Marcos, they were later uncovered by historians and journalists who exposed them in a series of reports just as the Marcos dictatorship was finally coming to an end.
You have to wonder if, as his fraudulent war record finally became known to the world, Marcos remembered the crazy stories he fabricated when he was selling his fictitious guerrilla unit to the Americans.
Like the opening scene in which he imagined himself as a Bataan Death March prisoner being tortured by the enemy who “over and above the look of pain” defiantly uttered to a comrade a “fierce and vehement whisper, ‘never, never to forget this.’”
As he was finally being exposed as a great liar, you can imagine Ferdinand Marcos Sr. cursing, “Punyeta, I was hoping they’d forget all about this!”
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