Published September 24, 2019, 12:46 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza & Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat



Jullie Y. Daza
Jullie Y. Daza

What is it about September? Martial Law anniversary. Birthday of Ferdinand Marcos. Sept. 8, 1969, formal inauguration of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, with special guest Ronald Reagan, California governor who would later become US president.

These days, Senator Imee Marcos will remember September, 2019, as the time students of two universities declared her persona non grata. Her mother, the former first lady and congresswoman, will be remembered or not for founding CCP by inviting the wealthiest families  – Cojuangco, Tantoco, Zobel de Ayala, Dolor, etc. — to build it instead of using government funds.

Last weekend, CCP marked its 50th with an extravaganza featuring the best and brightest artists and performers and making sure Mrs. Marcos’ name did not appear anywhere in the program notes and officers’ messages. Only CCP Chairman Margie Floirendo was bold enough to mention the Imeldific’s name once, in passing, in her speech wherein she appealed for support to keep the Center going for the next 150 years. Almost as a punishment dealt before her sin, Margie was wrongly introduced as “Margarita Roxas Floirendo,” which she unhesitatingly corrected by reintroducing herself, “My name is Margarita Moran Floirendo.”

What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, yet not all roses emit the same intensity of fragrance. So what if the founder of “Imelda’s Center” as nicknamed by her archenemy, Senator Ninoy Aquino Jr., was invited or not invited to the gala night of the two-night cultural bonanza? “She was invited,” said Nick Lizaso, CCP president, and that was that. (What I was told is that an IRM loyalist advised her against attending, what with the pervading atmosphere of political correctness as dictated by the times. Instead, her sister took her out for a Peking duck dinner.)

It may have been politically correct – didn’t FM censor free speech? — to unremember Mrs. Marcos’ role, even if without her there would’ve been no CCP. Fifty years later, who’d think that “Imelda’s edifice complex” (in the words of Behn Cervantes) would remain unsurpassed by any other first lady or president? Cultural Center (which Ninoy warned would sink half an inch every year), Heart Center, Lung Center, Kidney Center, Convention Center, Children’s Medical Center.