Imelda’s Hawaii tapes
HONOLULU – The VHS tapes were in a nondescript banker’s box marked “Marcos.”
Nearly forgotten. Nearly lost. Nearly thrown away.
But only nearly.
Earlier this year, as ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ son “Bongbong” ascended in the Philippines presidential election, Hawaii News Now rediscovered a treasure trove of archival footage that helps to tell the story of the Marcos dynasty’s years-long exile in Hawaii and their stunning return to power.
The “Imelda Tapes” were so old there weren’t any machines in the newsroom that could read them.
So documentary producer Jonathan Saupe sent them out to be digitized ― to 808 Burners in Aiea.
Usually owner Walt Clemente is digitizing old family videos or home movies. This time, he was digitizing a piece of history.
“I get to be the first to see it in a long time,” said Clemente, whose family immigrated to Hawaii from the Philippines in the 1920s.
He said the tapes about Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos remind him of his own family’s connection to the dictator ― and the complicated relationship many Filipinos have to the Marcos family.
Thirty-six years ago, Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos fled to Hawaii during the “People Power Revolution.” Ferdinand Marcos would die on Oahu in 1989. An aggrieved Imelda Marcos set to work plotting her dynasty’s resurgence ― one that is very nearly complete.
Ferdinand Marcos Jr, known as “Bongbong,” has now clinched the seat his father once held. In Monday’s presidential election in the Philippines, he won in a landslide.
And Imelda, who was accused with her husband of plundering as much as $10 billion from the Philippines, is facing a future where the past (at least in her own country) has been rewritten. While she was sentenced to 42 years behind bars in a corruption trial, she has never served a day in jail.