Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Marcos turns nostalgic upon return to Hawaii, thanks Filipinos who ‘kept us alive’

Dwight de Leon

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Marcos turns nostalgic upon return to Hawaii, thanks Filipinos who ‘kept us alive’

COMEBACK. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. meets with the Filipino community in Hawaii on November 18, 2023, the first time he returned to the island-state in over three decades.

RTVM screenshot

'Kung hindi dahil sa inyo, palagay ko, wala na ang pamilyang Marcos,' the President tells the Filipino diaspora in Hawaii, where his family spent life in exile from 1986 to 1991

HAWAII, USA – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who in past interviews said his time in Hawaii was the darkest chapter of his family’s life, turned to nostalgia in his return to the island-state on Saturday, November 18, the first time in over three decades.

Marcos said he made a point to visit Honolulu—the last leg of his weeklong US trip—to thank the Filipino diaspora, which helped them pick up the pieces after the 1986 People Power Revolution forced them to live in exile.

“We landed here with nothing,” he said in an event with the Filipino community upon his arrival. “Kung hindi dahil sa inyo, palagay ko, wala na ang pamilyang Marcos (If not because of you, maybe the Marcos family would have been no more).”

“When my mother (Imelda) found out I was coming to Honolulu, she said, ‘You make sure that you go back to all of those people who went out of their way to keep us comfortable and keep us alive,’” Marcos added.

Marcos turns nostalgic upon return to Hawaii, thanks Filipinos who ‘kept us alive’

Enthusiastic Filipinos inside the Hawaii Convention Center welcomed Marcos during Saturday night’s meet-and-greet event.

Hawaii is known for its large population of people who hail from Ilocos region, the bailiwick of the Marcos family.

“From when I was young, I used to hear stories of my grandparents about the dad. I did my research during the dad’s presidency, and the Philippines really progressed during that time,” Laverne Bisarra, a 41-year-old administration supporter who attended the gathering.

One of the myths of the Martial Law era was that it was the Philippines’ golden age, but data show the country suffered economically during Marcos Sr.’s regime. 

For some, ‘no aloha for Marcos’

Marcos said he has long waited to say “aloha,” the standard greeting in Hawaii. 

But outside Hawaii Convention Center, some protesters said Marcos does not deserve a warm welcome.

Banners read “no aloha for Marcos,” which was also the opposition’s tagline when the Marcos family sought refuge in Hawaii in 1986, and when Senator Imee Marcos returned to the island state in October.

“We have not forgotten what his family did. He cannot just come here and think he’s above the law,” said Victor Limon, member of the Hawaii Filipinos for Truth, Justice, and Democracy.

Marcos turns nostalgic upon return to Hawaii, thanks Filipinos who ‘kept us alive’

Marcos has been unable to set foot in the US for decades due to the risk of arrest after a court cited them in contempt for failing to pay billions of dollars in reparations to Martial Law victims.

But because he is now president, he has been granted diplomatic immunity.

Under Marcos Sr.’s two decades of martial rule, human rights groups have logged over 3,000 deaths, 34,000 torture incidents, 70,000 imprisonments. 

The United States offered the Marcos family a sanctuary after the 1986 uprising overthrew his father and booted the entire family out of Malacañang.

It was in Hawaii where patriarch Marcos Sr. succumbed to illness in 1989, and the rest of the Marcos family stayed there until 1991, when the Philippine government under Corazon Aquino’s rule allowed them to return to the country and face the cases against them. – Rappler.com

1 comment

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  1. ET

    Here we go again. President Marcos Jr.’s statement: “We landed here with nothing.” Really? What about the allegedly corruption-sourced wealth which they brought along with them? Will anybody fact-checked such statement? Secondly, we have seen what diplomatic immunity can do. That is why the Marcos Political Clan has to fight hard and at whatever cost and means to get back the Presidency. Of course, with the support of either the “bobotantes” or “Smartmagic” or both.

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Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the Malacañang, and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.