Booty & The Beast by Alan Robles

I am reposting this as it fits quite well with my own articles on the Marcoses and the wealth they accumulated during their 21 year rule. Some of you may have read this before. Others may be reading it for the first time. For the latter group it will be an eye-opener, a revelation of just how much the Marcoses stole from the people of the Philippines.
When Marcos fled the Philippines in 1986, he tried to bring as much of it with him as he could.


Booty and the Beast

    woebegone Ferdie and Meldy wander Honolulu's streets
   Ferdinand and Imelda (with bodyguard) in Honolulu, 1986
Frequent travelers can pick up a few tips from the Marcoses: given very short notice of a sudden departure, they were able to pack and bring along 300 crates of loot to Hawaii. Of course, not every frequent traveler gets to be ferried on Air Force cargo planes courtesy of the US government.
Unfortunately for the Marcoses somebody forgot to tell them that there would be a Customs inspection at Hawaii. US officials soon got at the plane truth and very quickly the boodle which Ferdy and Meldy had brought along was no longer hidden wealth — it was all very visible.
Among the things the inspectors found were 408 pieces of jewelry, valued at about $10 million. They included a bracelet and earring appraised at $1.5 million. An inventory of the 300 crates included:
  • 22 boxes of pesos valued (then) at $1.4 million
  • a gold crown studded with diamonds
  • three tiaras
  • an emerald brooch
  • 60 pearl necklaces — enough pearls to cover an area 12 feet by four feet
  • a heavily bejeweled ivory statue
  • 65 gold watches
  • 35 jewel-studded rings
  • several gold bars
  • 1,500 documents and ledgers, constituting what Stephen Solarz called “an encyclopedia of corruption.” Among the papers:
    • Secret Presidential Decree 731, dated June 7, 1975, where Marcos designates Imelda his successor should anything happen to him
    • A November 1981 memo from Marcos to the head of the Philippine National Bank ordering him to transfer P20 million to “Philippine intelligence fund account no. 2 established for confidential intelligence purposes.”
    • A list of expenses paid from that intelligence account in 1981, including $200,000 for “official visit of the First Lady to Iraq” and $252,000 for “various expenses incurred in connection with the official trip of the President to Cancun, Mexico”. According to Solarz, Imelda used the “Philippine intelligence budget as the equivalent of an American Express card”
    • A one-page memo outlining “total interest, 1974 and 1975 only”, listing $30 million in two Swiss banks, one Paris bank and another in Grand Cayman
    • A one-page list of “accounting of commissions received from Westinghouse”, which totals $11.2 million between 1976 and 1982
    • A listing of precious gems on stationery of Olemir Trading Co., New York, detailing various gems and their prices, with the reminder that “pieces can be returned if price for you is too high”
    • Documents detailing deposit certificates and bearer bonds worth $4 million, most of which were bought in the two days before the Marcoses fled
    • Stock transfer deeds, bank documents, financial information about five Philippine hotels and “payments made directly to Mr. and Mrs. Marcos for disaster relief projects”
    • A printout, dated 1982, purporting to detail payments to US political campaigns, including those of Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter in 1980.
Perhaps if the Marcoses had had a bit more time — and a cargo ship — they could have brought along what they left in Malacañang Palace: 2,142 pieces of jewelry, 508 gowns, 427 dresses, 71 pairs of sunglasses and those by now immortal shoes of Imelda, 1,060 pairs of them. There were also 75 filing cabinets of documents and three paper shredders that had broken down from overuse.
It turned out that Ferdinand Marcos was a forgetful traveler because among the documents left behind were details of kickbacks and commissions (plus receipts for thousands of dollars of flowers bought by Imelda), and a “declaration of trust” that strongly bolstered the Philippine government’s corruption case against the dictator.

So let that be a lesson: when you pack for a sudden trip, always have a checklist.  :-D

What could’ve happened to the Philippines if Marcos was flown to Paoay instead of Hawaii?
Why Marcos and family were flown to Hawaii
During Marcos last day in Malacanang, he kept himself busy for the preparations for their evacuation. He got in touch with  US Ambassador to the Philippines Stephen Bosworth  and requested him for a helicopter that would take them somewhere without necessarily mentioning a destination.

At that moment, the presidential pilots had deserted the Palace.
A number of the Presidential Security  
Command personnel had changed their uniforms into civilians and disappeared without a word.

Even General Ver started to go around his officers to bid them goodbye, although it was not exactly 

clear why he was saying goodbye to them.


Plans were not firmed up until the early evening of Feb. 25.  Marcos wanted to go to his home base in Paoay, Ilocos Norte.  But Cory Aquino was adamant in her decision that he should go on exile inthe United States.  It has become a standard joke among Filipinos that the American pilot, who manned the US plane that took the Marcoses to the US, misjudged Marcos’s request to take them toPaoay and instead, flew them to Hawaii. :-D


By 10 pm, a helicopter picked up the Marcos and Ver families in Malacanang and took them to Clark Air Base in Pampanga. From there, a US plane took them to Hawaii for the awaited exile. Marcos spent his last days there as a sick man and a political has-been.

He died there in 1989. Meanwhile, a new government took over to start the arduous and tortuous journey to restore democracy in the country. 

6 thoughts on “Booty & The Beast by Alan Robles

  1. I am always fascinated about the lives of the Marcoses. I even got this book from my Lolo I think its entitled The Marcos Revolution (not sure sorry) its about buildings and constructions in the Philippines. For me Marcos was a great President if only he was not consumed by greed and power.

      1. Hi Ms Caroline, Well I believe in you for someone like me who only read history books.
        By the way Ms Caroline I just want to say that I really admire your blog and I always check on it from time to time for updates. I can honestly say that I have read all your articles not only about the Marcoses but all your other adventures. Two thumb’s up Ms Caroline.

  2. Thanks, Luke. Very kind of you to say that. I love to have feedback. You are welcome to make comments below any of the blogs you particularly enjoyed – or didn’t enjoy!

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