ILOCOS NORTE, Philippines – On the 99th birthday of her father, Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos said the province continues to love the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos amid criticisms against Martial Law.
Imee and her mother Ilocos Norte 2nd District Representative Imelda led the culmination of the 3-day celebration of Marcos' birthday on Sunday, September 11.
"It's a great celebration and for all of us, we recall my dad napaka-controversial. Sa Maynila, maraming salita, maraming hatol (In Manila, they say many things and have their own judgements), and they are vociferous and well-publicized," said Imee in a speech after a wreath-laying ceremony at the Marcos shrine in Sarrat, the former dictator's home town.
"We in Ilocos Norte have a simpler message: one of unconditional love – love for someone who was with us for so many years, love for someone who served long and well, love for someone who will remain alive in each one of out hearts for the service he gave, for the leadership he taught us, and for the sacrifice that has marked public service and community here in Ilocos Norte throughout the decades," said Imee.
Marcos, born on September 11, 1917, led the country from 1965 to 1986. His' 21-year rule was mired by controversies ranging from killings, torture, and disappearances of his critics.
The late dictator also had tight control over media and the economy, and are also believed to have stolen millions from the nation's coffers – charges that the family has repeatedly denied.
His dictatorship was toppled by the 1986 People Power Revolution.
The other Marcos children – former Senator Ferdinand Jr (Bongbong), Irene, and Aimee – were absent from the morning events. Bongbong attended the wedding of celebrities Isabelle Daza and Adrien Semblat in Italy, while the other two sisters are in Manila.
Despite the controversies, the Marcos family still considers the "Solid North" provinces – Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, and Pangasinan – as their stronghold.
"Yes, we miss him today, but I would like to thank each and everyone of you that in these 30 years that he has been away from us, the family knew Ilocanos were the ones who gave us strength and love that we were able to carry on," she said.
The Marcoses commemorated the former president's birthday amid a protest before the Supreme Court (SC) over his hero's burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
Petitioners composed of activists and Martial Law victims argue that he cannot be buried there over the atrocities committed under his rule.
Imee is mum on the issue, citing the sub judice rule which restricts parties to a case from publicizing comments pending judicial proceedings.
The SC has finished hearing the oral arguments and have extend the status quo ante order on Marcos' remains to October 18.