POSTSCRIPT / August 11, 2022 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Marcos’ visit to NY: Where does it end?

It says here that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. plans to be in New York on Sept. 20, the opening day of the high-level General Debate of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly, to read the Philippine statement on a number of global issues.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is expected to speak at the UN General Assembly in New York on September 20. Photo: AP

Even the reckoning of the United Nations event (UNGA77 – Sept. 13-17) looks propitious as it falls randomly right into the Marcos lucky number 7.

This is the first US trip of President Marcos since the members of his family started to return in 1991 from exile in Hawaii. It is bound to open old wounds and raise new questions.

Why is Marcos returning to the scene of the crime as it were? Is the calibrated exposure, calculated to induce natural Immunity, part of ongoing rehabilitation and rebranding? Or is the dictator’s son another Saul on a spiritual road to Damascus and conversion?

“He has already put together a sketch or an outline for his speech,” Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez told ANC Headstart. “This is very important for us. I think we’re ready to sort of tell the world that we’re here, we’re going to play a major role in the global community.”

The ambassador, a second cousin of Bongbong, said the President’s key message at the UNGA77 would be about the COVID-19 pandemic recovery.

He added: “More importantly, which is really part of what President Marcos has always said, the recovery from the pandemic is not going to be done by one country alone but by the world. That probably will be his message at the United Nations.”

Asked if Marcos would mention security and West Philippine Sea issues, Romualdez said, “That’s probably one part of it because it involves our security. But more importantly, the clear message that we would like to give to the world is that we are part of a community that would like to contribute to world peace and economic prosperity for everyone.

Other questions may fall under trivia but are quite interesting to Filipinos. Will former first lady Imelda R. Marcos join the official party? Can she still travel? Who are the family members in the entourage entitled to diplomatic visas despite their being on the US watchlist?

While in New York, will Bongbong and family members stay at the Waldorf Astoria where Imelda Marcos was known to be “galante”, tipping generously hotel staff who attended to her? The “barya” she was handing out in her glory days reportedly were crisp $100 bills.

Another question: Will Bongbong sneak in a passing view of the landmark buildings in the US that the Marcoses and some partners bought during their heyday? Our answer to that is, “We doubt if he would. What for?”

Among the prominent Marcos properties in the US were four skyscrapers in Manhattan: Crown Building at 730 Fifth Avenue; the Herald Center at the intersection of Broadway, Sixth Avenue and 34th Street; 40 Wall Street, which has since been renamed the Trump building; and 200 Madison Avenue in Midtown South Central.

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Since Marcos is visiting Manhattan, the most densely populated of the city’s five boroughs. we will mention here some properties in the vicinity (all taken over now by new owners) as listed on the Wikipedia website as updated on June 2, 2022:

Crown Building – In 1981, the Marcoses acquired the Crown Building at 730 Fifth Avenue, purchasing it through Lasutra Corp. N.V. for $51 million, reportedly with help from Ralph and Joseph Bernstein as well as Adnan Khashoggi.

The building became the focus of lawsuits after Marcos was deposed, with many parties including the Philippine government, laying claim to it. The claimants eventually agreed to sell the property, and divided the proceeds after the building’s $89 million mortgage had been paid.

Herald Center – It was announced in July 1982 that “a small group of foreign investors” had bought the site of the Korvettes building at Herald Square for about $25 million, with the intent of turning it into a shopping center by 1983. These investors were later revealed to have been the Marcoses.

40 Wall Street – In 1982, the Marcoses also purchased 40 Wall Street, a large historic building in New York’s Financial District for $71 million through NYLand (CF8) Ltd., a shell corporation. The building’s ownership changed hands a few times after the Marcoses were removed from power, but the lease was transferred to Donald Trump in December 1995, and the building was renamed the “Trump Building”.

200 Madison – The Marcoses also purchased 200 Madison Avenue, an office building, for $50 million. Aside from four skyscrapers they bought in Manhattan, the Marcoses also acquired five condominiums at Olympic Tower on 5th Avenue.

13-15 East 66th – The Townhouse at 13-15 East 66th, New York City, was different from the other Marcos properties in Manhattan because it was purchased by the Philippine Consulate and the Philippine National Bank instead of by a shell corporation. The building was noted for having housed a big part of Imelda Marcos’ art collection, and for the fact that its sixth floor was converted into a private disco for the Marcoses’ guests.

Lindenmire Estate in Long Island – In 1981, the Marcoses purchased the Lindenmere Estate, an 8.2-acre resort property with a 14-bedroom manse in Center Moriches, Suffolk County, Long Island. It was estimated to be worth between $19 million to $20 million after renovations were done.

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