Opinion

Tall tales: Book of Marcos medal claims unearthed

The copyright page puts its year of publication at 1983; as far as we can tell, the book was ordered destroyed before the People Power Revolution of 1986.
IMAGE Dairy Darilag
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These photos are from a book missing from our libraries. The copyright page of Valor: World War II Saga of Ferdinand E. Marcos puts its year of publication at 1983. As far as we can tell, the book was ordered destroyed before the People Power Revolution of 1986. Only a few copies survived.

The text below is an excerpt from museum director John Silva's writing about the historical records that exist about Marcos' controversial claims of heroism.

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ABOVE: Photos of Ferdinand E. Marcos receiving World War II medals in the 1960s, decades after the war ended. 

Marcos spun such a fanciful story that, had there been no other WWII history books about, you’d believe he singlehandedly wiped out the enemy and brought democracy back to our shores.

Among the files found and scanned by Marie [Vallejo] and her crew were documents on the attempts in 1945 by a Captain Ferdinand Marcos to get recognition and compensation for his Ang Maharlika unit. His narrative of the fighting bravery of his unit was found to be pure fantasy and must have elicited guffaws the headquarters. His 39-page narrative starts: “Ang Mga Maharlika was spawned from the dragging pain and ignominy of the Death March and the filth and disease of Concentration Camp in Capas.” Marcos spun such a fanciful story that, had there been no other WWII history books about, you’d believe he singlehandedly wiped out the enemy and brought democracy back to our shores.


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ABOVE: From Marcos' diaries, detailing his wartime exploits.

In 1945, he sent this fairytale to the US military and was rejected as having no facts to substantiate his claims. Undeterred, he would file again in 1948 and by this time a stern and “…final irrevocable proposal” was handed down stating that his request “…failed conclusively to reveal any material which justify further consideration of this unit.” The US military found no fighting unit called Ang Maharlika, that the unit in fact only gathered information and did not see combat and Marcos had only a desk job and was nowhere to be found in the Bataan Death March or in the torture chambers of Fort Santiago as he poetically reminisces. The majority of the 32 war medals he brandished were dubious, many caste himself. In addition, it was found that some in his unit had committed “atrocities” against civilians and were involved in selling contraband to the enemy.

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The majority of the 32 war medals [Ferdinand E. Marcos] brandished were dubious, many cast himself. In addition, it was found that some in his unit had committed “atrocities” against civilians and were involved in selling contraband to the enemy.

Even after the rejection, Marcos still had the chutzpah to ask for over $500,000 to replace the livestock and animals of his unit destroyed in the war. By that time the investigators had concluded “criminal activity” by Marcos’ persistence in submitting fraudulent documents. 

Previously, the only time we heard of these records was from a brave local news magazine called We Forum that cited these records in 1984 (Marcos would close it down and arrest the publisher) and a later New York Times article by researcher Al McCoy circa 1986, about the time the People Power revolution was occurring.

But what is most amazing today is that those same records, only excerpted and cited in the past are now here, fully scanned, in the Third World Studies Center (TWSC) at the University of the Philippines. How it got there was through Marie’s efforts by handing over documents to our eminent historian Rico Jose who in turn gave it to the TWSC for electronic dissemination. I invite readers to download and go through the documents and read for yourselves how Marcos fabricated and lied about his WWII exploits, and how most of his medals are deemed fake.

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About The Author
John Silva
John Silva is the Executive Director of the Ortigas Foundation Library.
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