THERE IS PERHAPS NO MORE DESTINATION within Ilocos Norte more polarizing than Batac. However much antagonism is laid on former President Ferdinand E. Marcos’ authoritarian rule, reminders of the Martial Law years remain here, not to serve as a brutal reminder to a dark bygone era, but as a glorification of a man the place considers its greatest son. As Joseph, Dave and I walk inside the mausoleum where Marcos’ preserved body is kept, a feeling of dread permeates in the air-conditioned darkness. The corpse in front of us belonged to a man who once ruled with iron fists, but was thrown out by a popular revolt before succumbing to multiple organ failures in September 1989.

A visitor to the Marcos Museum and Mausoleum watches a documentary about the late former president. Marcos, whose presidential years were marked by an authoritarian rule, human rights violations and corruption, is highly revered in Ilocos, particularly in Ilocos Norte, where he was born.
Some of the items found inside the museum include the Marcos copule’s wedding portrait and a few of the former president’s clothes. Marcos’ preserved body is on display inside the nearby mausoleum.
A marker containing the words of Marcos stands in front of the museum and mausoleum compound.
The Marcos’ house is also located beside the museum and mausoleum.

Just steps away, we enter the museum where an expected partisan retelling of Marcos’ life can be found. Some of the license plates from cars he used are displayed on one wall. On another wall, the story of his whirlwind courtship with Imelda Romualdez Marcos is vividly chronicled.

Reading the accounts of a man who has been associated with seriousness and dictatorial tendencies, I sense a playfulness in his romance with his wife and develop a sense of esteem for the man.

Maybe it’s the Ilocano blood in me – my dad, while born and raised in Mindanao, is ethnically Ilocano. But perhaps it’s simply Marcos’ charisma, that allows, even after his death, for legends and myths to continue to live and seduce imaginations.

I suddenly feel cold. I shudder, then step out of a museum into the warmth of the sun.

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4 thoughts

  1. I didn’t realize you have Ilocano blood. My parents are Ilocano also. We skipped the museum but next time when I have my kids with me, we will surely stop by.

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