ILOCOS NORTE, Philippines – The home province of former President Ferdinand Marcos goes all out as they remember his 99th birthday anniversary.
Ilocos Norte 2nd District Representative Imelda Marcos and Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos lead the celebration.
Mara Cepeda reports.
MARA CEPEDA, REPORTING: It’s a sea of red and white in Ilocos Norte as the province commemorates the 99th birthday of former President Ferdinand Marcos.
His daughter Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos says despite the criticisms against Martial Law, Ilocanos still support the late strongman.
The day begins for the Marcoses with an emotional Mass at the Santa Monica Parish. Ilocos Norte 2nd District Representative Imelda says the Ilocanos kept them going since her husband’s death in 1989.
IMELDA MARCOS, ILOCOS NORTE REPRESENTATIVE: 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.
Imee then leads a wreath-laying ceremony at the Marcos shrine in Sarrat, where he was born on September 11, 1917.
IMEE MARCOS, ILOCOS NORTE GOVERNOR: It’s a great celebration and for all of us, we recall my dad napaka-controversial. Sa Maynila, maraming salita, maraming hatol and they are vociferous and well-publicized. We in Ilocos Norte have a simpler message: one of unconditional love.
It’s a great celebration and for all of us, we recall my dad is very controversial. In Manila, they say many things and have passed judgements on, and they are vociferous and well-publicized. 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 our 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.
The killings, torture, disappearances, media oppression, and corruption during Marcos’ 21-year rule are why petitioners are asking to stop his burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
Imee is mum on the issue, but hopes for national unity.
IMEE MARCOS, ILOCOS NORTE GOVERNOR: Hindi ako maaaring magkomento sapagkat sub judice at alam mo na, ang ating mga abogado ay ayaw. Ang amin na lang, ipinagdadasal namin na magkaroon ng katapusan upang sa wakas magkaisa ang Pilipino tulad ng hangarin ng ating mahal na presidente, Apo Duterte.
(I can’t comment because of the sub judice rule and you know, our lawyers don’t want us to speak on the matter. We’re praying for this issue to be laid to rest so that Filipinos would be united just like what President Duterte wants.)
Thousands of Marcos loyalists join the festivities at the Imelda Cultural Center in the evening, where they lighted candles for the former president.
The supporters are treated to a fireworks show and a boodle fight with the Marcoses.
The Solid North provinces of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, and Pangasinan are the stronghold of the Marcos family.
The thousands of loyalists who are gathered here today only show that support for Marcos will remain strong in the years to come.
Mara Cepeda, Rappler, Ilocos Norte – Rappler.com