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Phil Bronstein

Phil Bronstein

Posted: May 11, 2010 02:24 PM

Ninoy, Noynoy, No-No.

What's Your Reaction:

Ninoy, Noynoy, No-No.

That's pretty much how the Philippine elections look to someone whose dance card was punched for years by Manila politics.

I was barely out of kidhood when I covered the overthrow of Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines, so Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III - son of the assassinated politician Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr. and his wife, the recently deceased former president Corazon "Cory" Aquino - was just a boy when I was there (Lets not get started on the Filipino nickname thing; one of his sisters is Ballsy).

I met him a few times, huddled up against his widowed mom and his sisters. But he never said much back then.

Now, he's almost certainly the new president.

Good luck, pal, and get yourself a private army, in addition to the sometimes politically unreliable military, if you don't already have one. Because all of your enemies do. Given the Philippines' history of corruption, coups and the country's inability to budge an inch off of its 70 percent poverty rate and huge, naked economic disparities, you might as well be Ralph Cramden, just elected president of the Racoon Lodge.

The real news, however, is that Imelda Marcos - sometimes accused in the plot to assassinate Ninoy, and as lavishly pompadoured and aggressively fluttering as ever - also won her race for Congress. I still have her personally autographed bound volumes and rough drawings of her guiding life theory - something about circles and triangles, upside down hearts and love. She pushed that stuff relentlessly, seemingly gone a little loopy after 20 years of power, lots of sycophancy and presidential palace intrigue.

When she closed the fancy Gloria Maris restaurant so she could take me to a private dinner there a deux with a piano player in the shadows and her singing love ballads, I didn't know whether I was supposed to swoon or curl up into a protective ball.

But Imelda knew a cult when she founded one, even if it seemed often that she was its only member. Given today's election results, apparently not.

"The little people, they love me," she used to say as we rode in her limo past the tattered, desperate crowds outside her compound walls. She gave them flowers and a jewel-encrusted, designer gown-dressed first lady that she believed they loved to look up to. "It makes them proud to see me jetting around the world and getting cozy with the famous in the first world."

And pissed, especially in 1986 when they threw Imelda and Ferdinand - the former "Kennedys of Asia"- out of the country.

The shoes were a raw deal, by the way, considering Marcos himself had almost as many pairs tucked away in a between floors, "Being John Malkovich" department store chamber right below their palace living quarters.

Once again, oddly mannered oligarchs are back in place, re-fighting the same battles of 40 years before.

The only real shock would be if anything really changes.

 

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