The ‘Fierce Lady’

COMMONSENSE - Marichu A. Villanueva - The Philippine Star

Describing herself as a very private and apolitical person, First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos came out of her sheltered life and publicly shared her innermost feelings and sentiments. FLAM, as she is referred to for short, did this in her first ever media interview two years after husband President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. (PBBM) moved back to Malacañang Palace. 

The First Lady literally stepped out of the President’s shadow during the interview by veteran broadcaster Anthony “Tunying” Taberna. FLAM was clad in a casual dress and wearing a pair of stud earrings, a watch and a bracelet she disclosed was a gift to her from PBBM. The interview was done last April 12 but it was aired only last Thursday night in Taberna’s “Tune In Kay Tunying” program on his YouTube channel and at his personal Facebook page. 

What ticked off FLAM was the question about her present relations with Vice President and concurrent Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Sara Duterte. FLAM retorted: “Bad shot na sya sa akin.”  

The two, both lawyers by profession, are the women closest to PBBM. 

The 64-year-old FLAM though has the advantage as the first woman PBBM sees when he wakes up in the morning and the last woman he sees before sleeping. This is not to mention the pillow talks between FLAM and PBBM before and after bedtime.

FLAM explains to the public she only goes to Malacañang at least once a week to check on the internal household office and staff. She reveals anew she spends a “dinner date” with PBBM every Wednesday night. And every Sunday is a lunch gathering with the Marcos clan.          

But FLAM begged off on commenting on her relations with PBBM’s elder sister, Sen. Imee Marcos, for openly taking the opposition line. “You should ask her. I am just the out-law. I know what line not to cross,” FLAM stressed. She hastened to clarify though that her sister-in-law is included in the family lunch chat group reminder.

Sen. Imee has been noticeably nowhere in the Marcos family photos. She, too, is a close friend and defender of VP Sara and the latter’s father.

Even before FLAM’s admission, the falling out between FLAM and VP Sara did not escape public notice. It all started after a televised event of PBBM flying to Vietnam in January this year when FLAM intentionally avoided the VP at the send-off rites. As in any state visit, FLAM accompanied PBBM as part of the official delegation. On the other hand, PBBM usually designated the VP as the head of the “caretaker” government.  

In fact, FLAM herself narrated these in detail during Taberna’s hour-long interview. She bitterly recalled at that time she was still smarting from the stinging attacks on the Marcoses. When the camera panned to the VP, she noted her “laughing” at the digs dished out by her father, former president Rodrigo Duterte, as well as Davao City Mayor Baste against PBBM and son, Ilocos Norte Rep. Sandro. Yet, she added, VP Sara joined PBBM in the grand launch of “Bagong Pilipinas” at Luneta grandstand a few hours earlier that day before that “prayer rally” in Davao City in December 2023.

“So, after that (rally), I snubbed her (Sara). I’d do it again. I mean, that’s not right, you don’t do that. That’s entitled politics. You’re in the government, you’re the Vice President,” FLAM fumed. “I’m many things but I’m not a hypocrite,” she added.

As far as FLAM is concerned, the VP “crossed the line” while calling her husband as ever “mabait” (good-hearted) who still protects the Dutertes.

What she obviously forgot, PBBM clapped back at Mr. Duterte. Before he left for that state visit to Vietnam, PBBM returned to Mr. Duterte’s own self-confession as a user of “fentanyl” pain-killer in the past. 

In another official event, she related, when she and the Vice President crossed paths again, PBBM supposedly reminded her to “behave.” With raised brows, she quoted her curt retort: “I told him: Wrong person, honey.”  

Walking the talk, PBBM even had “beso-beso” with VP Sara a day after his wife’s “bad shot” comments came out in media. But perhaps PBBM likewise whispered to VP Sara the same reminder to “behave,” who knows? 

What FLAM also could not ignore was ex-pres. Duterte’s digs at her congressman-son Sandro as someone wishing to become the next prime minister of the country, purportedly “to perpetuate themselves in power.”

In obvious digs at the body tattoos of the Dutertes, FLAM described the better upbringing of her three sons.  She proudly swore her sons have not been involved in any troublemaking, or have any “tattoos” painted on any part of their bodies.

The 45-year-old VP Sara also has three sons with husband, lawyer Manases Carpio. Thus, for sure, she shares the laments of a fellow wife and mother like FLAM when someone says bad things about her husband and children.

FLAM branded as “myths” the claims she is actually the one acting as the president, or is the go-to person for those aspiring to be appointed to key positions in government.

FLAM begs Filipinos to understand the situation of PBBM who, like any other leader or head of government, needs a break once in a while. Describing PBBM as a “rock star” in his own dream, FLAM cited as example their attending together the recent concert in Manila of 76-year-old rock singer James Taylor. 

It is brave of FLAM on how she will face the ensuing fire and brimstone stirred by her no holds barred interview. As expected, the Diehard Duterte Supporters (DDS) lashed back at the First Lady. The DDS army of trolls riled at FLAM as a powerless, un-elected woman unlike VP Sara as the most popularly elected second highest official of the land. 

In a seemingly veiled threat, FLAM shrugged them off, saying they could fight the same way but she “won’t stoop” to their level. With PBBM and ascribing herself as “the Fierce Lady” of the land, she tells them: “Let them do their thing.”


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