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NEW YORK, USA – During his six-day working visit to the US, on the sidelines of the 77th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Marcos met with a old friend of his parents: the 99-year-old Dr. Henry Kissinger.
While the first Marcos president was in power, Kissinger was US secretary of state and national security advisor, the acknowledged influential hand in the crafting of American foreign policy.
“We had a very, shall we say, satisfying meeting with Dr. Henry Kissinger. Eh napag-usapan… Si Henry Kissinger was…napakaano – napaka – inaalala niya ‘yung mga…. ‘yung father ko, ‘yung mother ko, ‘yung kanilang naging pagsasama, pagkakaibigan,” Marcos told media in a short conference before he left the US on Friday, September 23 (early September 24 in the Philippines).
(Henry Kissinger was very…. he recalled my father, my mother, their relationship and friendship.)
President Marcos is the son and namesake of the deposed Ferdinand Marcos, who was in power for over two decades – years when Kissinger was in the US government.
Marcos did not say when exactly the meeting took place but said Kissinger talked to him about his past visits to the Philippines, his views on issues, and asked how the Philippines is doing. President Marcos, in turn, invited the 99-year-old Kissinger to visit Manila. According to US State Department records, Kissinger visited Manila with then-president Gerald Ford in December 1975.
Kissinger, in turn, said he wanted to call on, or visit Imelda Marcos, the President’s mother and the infamous former first lady. An old photo dated December 7, 1975 shows Kissinger in a barong dancing with Imelda.
“Sabi ko ‘di siyempre matutuwa ‘yung mother ko pagka nakita ka. (I told him of course my mother would be happy if she sees you.) So it was a very warm – I have to say, a very warm meeting, and it was nice to see the affection that had been developed between the Dr. and – not only my parents, but the Philippines,” Marcos added.
Views of Imelda
It’s interesting for Kissinger to mention wanting to meet with Imelda again, since diplomatic cable leaks from WikiLeaks would reveal, decades after the fact, that the former first lady was viewed by American media as a “pest” and a gatecrasher who would “invite herself” to key events.
Kissinger himself would relay the negative image of the former first lady to the US embassy in Manila through memos sent in January 1976 – a month after his visit to Manila.
The memos quoted American journalist Jack Anderson as saying the State Department then – at least according to the leaked cables from the 70s – hated to see Imelda. The protocol people at the State Department would “grit their teeth” every time she showed up in the US unannounced.
The former first lady is infamous for her excesses. She and her husband were known to have gone on a shopping spree, eyeing properties in New York City while they were in power. Some of those properties have since been reclaimed by the Philippine government. (WATCH: [EXCLUSIVE] Marcos New York tour: Mga gusaling nabili ng nakaw na yaman)
Imelda and her son face a contempt judgment in the US over a human rights class suit against the former president Marcos. But as head of state, Marcos Jr. is immune from the threat of arrest.
Marcos Jr. himself has said that it’s been over two decades since he and his wife, First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos, have been able to visit New York. The two met here while the Marcos family was in exile in the US – Marcos was attending to his mother’s cases while Liza Araneta was a lawyer who happened to be a friend of the Marcoses’ defense lawyer.
Thrilled about feeling the New York “vibe” again, the President told the media here: “On a personal side, I was just happy also to come back to New York. I’ve always enjoyed the city, I’ve always loved being in New York, and to get that – may vibe talaga itong New York eh. May parang beat itong New York na naiba sa lahat ng siyudad sa buong mundo.”
(New York really has a vibe. It’s got a beat that’s different from all other cities in the world.) – Rappler.com