‘The Untold Story of Imelda Marcos’

AS A MATTER OF FACT - Sara Soliven De Guzman - The Philippine Star

One thing quite evident ‘People Power’ has given us back is our freedom!

During the Marcos Regime no one can publicly criticize the Administration. If anyone dared to talk or write about Marcos, his family or his cronies, severe punishment follows, sometimes even death. And I mean it in the literal sense of the word.

Today for the first time in Philippine history, the controversial book, “The Untold Story of Imelda Marcos” written by Carmen Navarro Pedrosa (which was first published in 1969) has finally been ‘officially’ launched to the public.

I remember during the years of martial law when my late father Max V. Soliven was on house arrest, I saw boxes of “The Untold Story” hidden in one of my dad’s office cabinets at our home.  I grew up with this book. It was the only book I held about the country from age 9 to 17 years old (the year of the People Power Revolution).  Today, when I turn every page of it, memories of my parents, our home and the streets of Manila during the martial law years, still haunt me. Those were very painful days for us and I’m glad it’s over!

When Tita Chit (as we fondly call her) sent me the invitation for the book launch, I asked her why we had so many copies of her book in our home.  She told me that my late father promoted the book and was one of the first journalists (or maybe the only) to write about it.  As a matter of fact, he wrote the foreword of the original book. And when martial law was declared, Tita Chit’s family was forced to flee the country, so, she gave a few boxes of books to my father to hide.

When the original book was about to come out in the book stands sometime in July 1970, the Administration raised hell to stop it from coming out. Here are my dad’s account of the series of events that took place:

July 19, 1970 (Sunday Times) by Maximo V. Soliven: First Lady’s biography on public sale soon. “At long last, The Untold Story of Imelda Marcos, that much-whispered about biography of the First Lady by Carmen Navarro-Pedrosa, a brave and talented young former newpaperwoman, will be released for sale to the public. “Chit” Pedrosa, who started her career as a journalist in 1962 as a cub reporter for the Manila Chronicle and was the first Filipino to be awarded a Thomson Foundation scholarship to Britain in 1965, worked against formidable odds to compile the details of this fascinating and completely candid life story of the girl who surpassed the world of fairy tales to emerge as a modern Cinderella and “rose from being a destitute child to become the most powerful woman of the country”.  The book was first printed by the Tandem Publishing Company in August, 1969 – but it never came out. All 11,000 copies of the first edition have, up to now, remained locked up in the Pedrosa residence. Why? Certain persons in Malacañang, it seems, did not want the biography placed in circulation. I am not at liberty to divulge what methods of “persuasion” were used to keep the volume from seeing the light of day, but perhaps the current novel – repeat, NOVEL – on which “Chit” is working may give us a clue to the mystery. It’s tentative title is “The Suppression.”

I fail to see why these persons in the Palace so vehemently objected to the book. The few individuals who were discreetly privileged to read the volume were impressed, not only with Mrs. Pedrosa’s open-minded and practically admiring approach to her subject, but with Imelda herself. Some of them even confessed to me that they openly wept while reading the story because they were touched by several passages in the book. Mind you, a number of these few are not friends of the First Lady. Certainly a biography with a power to move even the most intelligent and critical readers to tears cannot be a hostile one to Imelda. Needless to say, of course – as one true to her training and profession as a journalist – “Chit” did not leave out the less complimentary details. But all things considered, I sincerely believe it’s a tale narrated with integrity and compassion.

For myself, from the minute I picked it up and started reading, I can say that I could not lay it down until I had completed the last chapter.”

July 28, 1970 (Sunday Times) he wrote: Returning home is like being back at war zone. “News of that controversial biography of our First Lady, “The Untold Story of Imelda Marcos” has reached Tokyo. Many foreign correspondents I met there inquired from me where they could obtain copies of the edition. Now that I am back, I find that malicious speculation has been going the rounds that the reason former newspaperwoman Carmen Navarro Pedrosa’s long-suppressed volume has still not appeared on the shelves of Manila’s bookshops is that Mrs. Pedrosa may be trying to get certain “considerations” from Malacañang. This is a complete canard, deliberately spread by “whisperers” close to the Palace. “Chit” Pedrosa wants no concessions – and you can be sure the book will be out this week… One thing is sure – scores of persons contacted me yesterday, literally begging for a chance to buy copies of the “Untold Story.” May I say that I am not the sales agent of this book, but – by the same token – be assured that the “Untold Story” will finally be told.”

I am happy that Tita Chit reprinted her book.  It is not only for her but also for the younger generation of Filipinos, who should know that once, we had a ruler who had a wife who overdid herself.  Once we had a ruler who was so powerful, he forgot about us, the people. And today, we have clones of this ruler (Marcos) all over the country who continue to exploit our people and steal from the kaban ng bayan, drowning us into a deep abyss of the deep blue sea.

My late father always told me never to lose hope because one day the sun and the three stars flying in our red, white and blue flag will shine again.


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