On the night of 25 February 1986, Ferdinand Marcos and Imelda Marcos and their children plus their closest associates (like Eduardo ‘Danding’ Cojuangco) were whisked off Malakanyang Palace by USAF helicopters.  They spent the night at Clark Air Base and were subsequently flown to Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu, Hawaii, headquarters of the US Pacific Command.

The Marcos Honolulu Papers (MHP) were documents seized by the US Customs Service from the Marcos party upon arrival at Hickam.  After being catalogued, the entire document set was turned over to the US State Department and Rep. Stephen Solarz, chairman of the House sub-committee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs.  Solarz then released copies of the MHP, except for at least a hundred pages which were supposed to be personal in nature, to the mass media and academics.  The Philippine government under President Cory Aquino then received its copy through the New York office of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), the agency established by President Aquino to recover ill-gotten Marcos wealth.  The PCGG was subsequently able to obtain copies of the Solarz-withheld pages.

Logo of PCGG

In connection with a book project with Japanese colleagues on the corrupt collaboration between Marcos and private Japanese companies , I annotated every page of the almost 2,000 page MHP set.  [Unfortunately, I lost the electronic file of these annotations due to defective hard drives and floppy disks.)  An initial examination of the documents suggests two possible hypotheses about their nature.  The first and more plausible one avers that the MHP is composed both of papers kept personally and carefully by Marcos over the years and documents which were randomly picked up and packed in the confusion of his last days in Malakanyang Palace.  If this is the case, future analysts of the MHP must attempt to segregate one set from the other.

The second, and apparently less tenable thesis, holds that all of the papers were indeed carefully-kept personal files of Marcos.  If this interpretation was true, then seemingly innocuous papers, like the curriculum vitae of an assistant provincial fiscal or an obscure community nurse, must be studied for possible connections with the man himself.  Or could they simply indicate the broad range of concerns that occupied Marcos during his twenty-year rule.

As it is, the document set is a formidable collection of papers of diverse nature, including financial reports, stock certificates, letters, handwritten notes, business cards, and then some.  Instead of trying vainly to devise a scheme to tie all the papers into a unified, comprehensible lot,  it is better to highlight which ones are most interesting or useful in understanding what Marcos did during those years.

For those who are interested in the business activities of Marcos, his immediate family, and his close friends and cronies–the papers relating to the Herdis Group, Inc (HGI), Prime Holdings, Universal Holdings, financial reports prepared by Carlos J. Valdez, bank transaction reports, Roberto Benedicto, Rolando Gapud, Jose Y. Campos, Rodolfo Cuenca, and the Bataan Shipyard & Engineering Co., Inc. (BASECO) could be examined.  Included in this group are papers pertaining to the Angenit Investment Corporation, headed by Marcos crony and former Batasang Pambansa (National Parliament) assemblyman Andres Genito Jr.  The Genito papers are useful to investigators of transactions entered into between Japanese companies and Filipino firms concerning Philippine projects financed by Japanese official development assistance (ODA) funds. (I know that most of the names and firms mentioned here are relatively unknown to a contemporary audience.  I will discuss them in greater detail in a future blog post.)

The overpriced and never used Bataan Nuclear Power Plant

With the Herdis papers is a detailed accounting of the $60 million commission received by Herdis on Marcos’ behalf received from Westinghouse, the supplier of the Bataan nuclear power plant.  The Philippine government under Tita Cory submitted this report as evidence in the case it filed in a US court against Westinghouse for fraud.

The papers about the dissolution of the marriage and divorce of Ms. Aurora Pijuan (former Ms. International) and Mr. Tomas Manotoc (who later married Imee Marcos), the letter of Marcos’ nephew Michael Keon providing for the “settlement of all outstanding matters” between Keon and “the family of H. E. Ferdinand E. Marcos,” and the file on the American actress Dovie Beams, believed to have carried on a scandalous affair with Marcos in late 1970–will certainly appeal to those interested in the personal lives of the Marcoses.

Most of the papers initially withheld by the US authorities were secret or confidential Philippine government intelligence reports on various corrupt activities, including bribery, malversation, nepotism, and rape, of a high official of the Department of Local Government and Community Development (DLGCD) and the Metro Manila Commission, where Imelda Marcos served as chairperson.

Jimmy Carter, 1980 presidential candidate of Democratic Party

Gen. Fabian Ver, chief of Marcos’ praetorian guard

The collection includes pieces of evidence of how Marcos employed governmental power and resources for various ends.  Among them are reports on various ‘intelligence’ funds, and the apparent distribution of large sums of money during the February 7, 1986 snap elections.  Of particular interest is a statement of expenses of the Mabuhay Corporation which made several political contributions to American politicians and political parties, including $50,000 apiece to 1980 presidential candidates Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.  These contributions were cleared through Gen. Fabian Ver, commander of the Presidential Security Command.

Ronald Reagan, 1980 presidential candidate, Republican party

Ferdinand Marcos sent Imelda to meet with Mao Zedong, China’s leader, to establish diplomatic relations and end China’s support of Philippine communists

Several papers allude to the growing power and political role of Imelda Marcos.  An outstanding example is a handwritten presidential decree (numbered 731 and dated 7 June 1975) that provided for the creation of an executive committee to be headed by Imelda that would assume the powers and responsibilities of the President in the event of Marcos’ death or permanent disability.

The wealth and diversity of the papers contained in the collection make the MHP one of the “must-see” sources for serious students of the Marcos period.

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Comments
  1. bongmendoza says:

    Manolet, thanks for the information. I will write a blog post on the MHP papers on Dovie Beams.

  2. I am particularly interested in the Dovie Beams affair because of my late uncle Gen. Vicente Umali’s involvement in the episode. He was a DBP Director then and I heard he was sacked by Imelda for being instrumental in bringing in actress Dovie beams to the Philippines and giving Marcos a case of herpes. I’m in a quandary till now…

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