Untold story of ‘pathetic’ Imelda
FROM A DISTANCE - Carmen N. Pedrosa () - July 11, 2004 - 12:00am
During a recent interview with Pia Arcangel of GMA7, she told me that when she asked Ramona Diaz, filmmaker of Imelda, if she used any book in making the film, her reply was no, she did not. And that includes my book, the Untold Story of Imelda Marcos, which became a cause célèbre in the 70s just before the declaration of martial law. That Ramona Diaz can say such a barefaced lie in front of TV cameras only reinforces the belief that she is being less than truthful when she denies that her film documentary was done to rehabilitate the image not just of Imelda, but the Marcoses as a dynasty. What they failed to do while Marcos was still around, his heirs hope they could, with Imelda at the helm to orchestrate the strategy. What cheek. As if the sorry record of the regime was not enough to shame them. I will put on record in this column that many of the difficulties of the country today are rooted in the Marcos period. It will take an entire book to discuss the issue and that will take time. But it is important to put the Filipino public on notice that any such rehabilitation must pay its price. That is not what the film Imelda does. Not only have the Marcoses gone scot-free, the story behind its rapacity remains untold.

So extensive was the damage inflicted on the nation by the Marcoses, it could be said one of the main reasons for our budget deficit is the huge service of foreign debt that was first accumulated during the unlamented Marcos regime. The idea of borrowing extravagantly for non-productive causes and the failure to institute adequate policies put us in a position when paying debts meant sacrificing our own economic and social well-being. Its effects continue to this day. There is enough material specific to the Philippines to prove this.

R.T. Naylor in his book, Hot Money – the ‘Politics of Debt, wrote: "Whether most of the blame for crippling levels of debt is put on the borrower (living beyond his means) or the lender (imprudent lending) or the OPEC countries (‘greedy’ oil sheikhs) there has been a consensus that the inability of debtors to carry their debt burden is the problem. In reality, it is a mere symptom of a deeper problem, one rooted in the very mechanism by which international relations are carried." He adds that by the time the debt crisis broke into the public view in the summer of 1982 (just a year before Ninoy’s assassination) banks (in the Marcos’ case – Swiss banks) aided and abetted the flight of capital from countries whose social and political fabric was subject to increasing strain." That is where we are now as the pathetic but award-winning film Imelda is poised to regale us with her rehabilitated image.

It was around May in 2001 when filmmaker Ramona Diaz contacted me for an interview which I rejected when I realized it was being produced in cooperation with Imelda, the Public Broadcasting of America (equivalent to the UK’s BBC) and Soros Foundation. The story of that rejection is documented in my column of May 31, 2001.

Over lunch at Acceed where she stayed, I found out she was making a film out of the story of the Untold Story of Imelda Marcos while recasting it in interviews and a spin as if the story were being told for the first time. Of course, she would not say it as plainly as that because it would be admitting that she was doing a project using the story covered by an intellectual copyright.

She told me that she wanted all the members of the crew to have a copy each of the book when they arrived in Manila. She also asked if I could help her find Estrella and Siloy, two household members of the Romualdez household in General Solano who were primary sources of the untold story. From my talk with her, it was clear that the Diaz documentary would be based on my book before she became First Lady. She said she also interviewed and referred to former Senator Vicente Paterno and Senator Serge Osmeña who were willing to be interviewed but that the late Senator Blas Ople and Senator Francisco Tatad refused. "None of the members of the Lopez family were willing to be interviewed. Ms. Diaz and her crew filmed Imelda for several months last year (the year 2000) so it can be assumed that her project is with approval."

Diaz and her crew were even taken by Imelda to Ilocos where she had campaigned for children Imee and Bong-bong. The instructions from Bong-bong were ‘get behind the shoes’. Ms. Diaz says of Imelda, that she thinks of herself now as a kingmaker to her children. That is probably why Imelda’s image is being burnished, but this time it will not go against the Cinderella story line of the Untold Story that Imelda so abhorred. This was the story she refused to accept and for which my family and I paid a high price. It is not to be used without my permission. It may be that Ms. Diaz thinks that she can ignore copyright. I warned her even then "that any use of the book and the story it told without my written permission will be dealt with accordingly." I suppose she will justify this by saying Imelda’s story is hers (Imelda’s) or at least publicly owned.

But the circumstances around the writing of this book is what makes it different. It owes nothing to what was previously known or what Imelda was prepared to tell then. At the zenith of Marcos power, any enterprise to pry that open would be severely punished which my family and I did and led to a 20 year exile which changed our lives. That is my claim to the ownership of the untold story. The fact is a very public battle took place between Imelda and myself on whether the book ought to be published because she did not want to accept the story. Many other spin-offs were published while I was still in exile. I could not then pursue the matter of copyright. As my lawyers said, "That may be true then, but it is different now. You are back and this is an open defiance of the copyright law." For that reason my lawyers wrote her a letter to warn her.
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LETTERS. Reader beeheeyu wrote: George Soros is notorious for taking advantage of the Asian crisis, like a vulture. He is showing his true colors by glorifying Imelda and giving her undue publicity. Please don’t allow the guy to steal your intellectual property rights. Tony Joaquin unyot@juno.com wrote: I still see the same quality of courage you exhibited when you wrote the book on Imelda, a best seller if there ever was one. And yes, steer clear of these business ventures emanating from producers of doubtful repute who end up stealing your property rights. Gras Reyes Grada123 wrote: I agree, the film-makers should pay for the use of your book. Vi Massart, (who has become STAR’s correspondent in France) was shocked that American PBS and Soros would even consider making a film-documentary based on her lifestory as told by you without consideration of copyright to the Untold Story. To think that the US have put RP high on their list of "piraters" or violators of such property rights. Downright disgusting!!! She warned me the producer will run the film based on your book and still find excuse to say that Imelda’s life is public knowledge. The Americans will be very foolish if they go ahead without due recognition to your book. They should pay royalties to the owner of the intellectual property.
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E-mail: cpedrosa@edsamail.com.ph

BOOK DIAZ FILM IMELDA MARCOSES MS. DIAZ RAMONA DIAZ STORY UNTOLD STORY UNTOLD STORY OF IMELDA MARCOS
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