NEW JERSEY, USA — President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. became emotional as he reminisced about his life in the United States, noting that this was the first time in 25 years that he had set foot in New York, a place that he holds dear in his heart.
Marcos said this during his meeting with the members of the Filipino community here on Sunday evening, September 18 (New Jersey time).
In his speech, Marcos, who was visibly overwhelmed by emotions, said New York was special to him and First Lady Louise Araneta-Marcos as this is where they first met.
"Sa New York kami nagkakilala. At siguro mga tatlong taon niya akong niligawan (We met in New York and she courted me for three years)," he said.
"Matagal na kaming hindi nakabalik. Parating kami from New Jersey papunta dito sa New York sa city, eh tinitingnan namin, 25 years na kaming hindi nakabalik (We haven't been here for a while. When we were going from New Jersey to New York, we realized that we haven't been here for about 25 years)," he added.
According to the President, he was happy to see the places he used to go to when he was still studying at Wharton, like the New Jersey Turnpike.
How did the two meet?
The President said he would visit his mother, the former First Lady Imelda Marcos, in New York from Philadelphia in 1986 and meet Araneta-Marcos, who was already working in the Big Apple as a lawyer for about six to seven years.
"Nagkakilala kami in court, sa korte. Habang hinahantay ko ‘yung kaso ng mother ko, siya naman ay bumibisita dahil kaibigan niya yung isang abugado namin at ayun (We met in Court. While I was waiting for my mother's case, she would visit because one of our lawyers was her friend. That's it)," he said.
Marcos even joked that his first-born, Ilocos Norte First District Representative Sandro Marcos, should be thankful to New York.
"Kaya Sandro, magpasalamat ka sa New York. Kung hindi sa New York, wala ka (So Sandro, you should thank New York because if not for New York, you wouldn't be here)," he said.
President Marcos is in the United States for the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), where he will deliver a speech at the High-Level General Debate on September 20 (New York time).
This is the first time Marcos sets foot in the US in over a decade. A contempt order worth $353 million was issued by the District Court of Hawaii in 2011 against the Marcoses concerning human rights abuses linked to his late father's regime.
US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said Marcos, as head of state, can invoke his immunity when he visits the US.
However, not everybody was happy with President Marcos' visit to the US as anti-Marcos protesters trooped to the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark where he met the Filipino community. The critics protested his arrival and condemned the corruption and alleged human rights violations that "paved the way for the Marcos-Duterte administration."