Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Palace parties? ‘Simple’ under Marcos 2.0, say sister, press chief

Bea Cupin
Palace parties? ‘Simple’ under Marcos 2.0, say sister, press chief

Supporters and employees of the Office of the President wave Philippine flags to welcome the President Ferdinand Marcos Jr at the Malacañan Palace on June 30, 2022. Angie de Silva/Rappler

Rappler.com

(1st UPDATE) 'We assure you that the President will adhere to law and so that is the presumption,' says Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles, amid questions over the use of public funds in private Palace gatherings

MANILA, Philippines – This time, the parties are “simple” – or at least that’s what they’re saying. 

In the first weekend of the Marcos government, it was not just Cabinet appointments that caught the attention of people, especially those attuned to chatter online. 

Instead, it was the parties: at least two, based on the posts and accounts of attendees, including one for the former first lady Imelda Marcos. 

A “very happy occasion” was how Senator Imee Marcos, eldest daughter to Imelda and sister to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., described the gathering in Malacañang Palace on July 2 to celebrate the former first lady’s 93rd birthday. 

Photos posted by lawyer Michael Manotoc, the son of Senator Marcos, showed a full set up at Rizal Hall inside Malacañang to celebrate the 93rd birthday of “Mama Meldy.” In one of the photos posted by Manotoc, President Marcos himself was speaking on stage. 

Rizal Hall is typically the venue of major events in the Palace. In 2016, for instance, it was where former president Rodrigo Duterte took his oath as the 16th president of the Philippines. 

Speaking to Senate media on July 4, Senator Marcos said it was not a party and that they “only had merienda.” “But yes, we had a get-together, very simple merienda with a small recital of old friends and scholars,” she said. 

While it is not unheard of for Malacañang to host to events of the First Family – after all, it is both the official workplace and residence of the president – clips of the Marcos clan and their associates dancing and celebrating in Malacañang revived memories of the parties of the first Marcos presidency. 

During the regime of Ferdinand E. Marcos, the current President’s father and namesake, the First Family hosted infamous opulent parties inside and outside the Palace. The Marcoses – including the former first lady, the President, and Senator Marcos – fled Malacañang in 1986 during the People Power Revolution. Before that, the Marcos family were Palace overlords for more than two decades. 

Today, several Marcoses are in government. Aside from the President and his sister, there’s his son Ferdinand Alexander “Sandro” Marcos, a newbie legislator representing the 1st district of Ilocos Norte. Representative Marcos’ cousin and Senator Marcos’ son, Matthew Manotoc, is the reelected governor of Ilocos Norte.

Assume the ‘President will adhere to the law’

Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles, asked about Imelda Marcos’ event in Rizal Hall, declined to comment “since [Angeles] wasn’t there.” Her office had earlier refused to comment on the birthday gathering, telling Malacañang media that “[they] will only be releasing statements on issues where public interest/welfare is involved.” 

The previous president, Rodrigo Duterte, had made a big deal about efforts to keep social events in the Palace simple – although his granddaughter did receive a lot of flak for using Malacañang as a backdrop for a pictorial. 

Asked how the Marcos administration would approach social events in the Palace, Angeles said during a July 4 briefing: “There’s no policy yet in place and that’s all that we can really say about it. It was a family affair. And so I don’t know if a policy will be borne out of this one. But certainly we will note that observation.” 

The Palace has, as of publishing, not released photos or videos from the Inaugural Ball, which was also hosted in Malacañang. The event, during which guests were given a gold medallion bearing the President’s face, was described by Angeles as “a joyful but simple and traditional occasion.” 

Addressing concerns that public funds would be used in private family functions, Angeles added: “We assure you that the President will adhere to law and so that is the presumption. We will… The President does — no directive in excess of anything that is written in the law.”

Senator Marcos was more expressive in addressing criticism over the possible use of public funds. “I don’t think that’s the case. I’m sure everyone brought food, as a matter of fact. It was quite funny. At saka libre naman lahat ng tumugtog. Bawal ba yun? Di ko alam. Kasi nagbi-birthday party rin ako nung bata ako doon eh. Bawal ba yun?” she said.

(The performers did it for free? Is that not allowed? I’m not sure. I used to have birthday parties there as a child. Is that not allowed?) – Rappler.com 

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.