In the middle of uncertainty on whether he will make a run for the presidency, Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. ultimately decided to follow his father's footsteps while watching Ant-Man with his wife.
"You know, six months ago, he wasn’t yet sure what to do, he had no party," Louise "Liza" Marcos shared with Boy Abunda in a sit-down interview with their youngest son Vincent "Vinny" Marcos.
"And then one day, we’re watching Ant-Man in the room and then he looked at me and he goes ‘okay, we’re gonna do this.' 'Do what?' 'Run for the presidency.'," Liza recalled.
In their first ever public interview since Marcos Jr. announced his 2022 presidential run, Liza and Vinny shared with Abunda life as a Marcos, dealing with public scrutiny as a Marcos, and why it would be good for the country's next president to be another Marcos.
Marcos Jr. started living in Malacañang when he was eight years old after his father, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, won his first term as president. Vinny said that for his father now, dealing with public scrutiny "comes so naturally."
"I mean, if your dad is the president growing up," Vinny said on how accustomed his father is to dealing with the public.
Liza said this was also something, "an art," that she has observed her husband practice well.
"When he was Ilocos governor we’d go to China and I could see in the way he sits, in the way he engages. That’s an art. I guess the training, you do it all your life," she said.
But both Liza and Vinny said they prefer to lead a largely private and "normal" life.
Despite the controversy that has followed his family name for years, Vinny, a 24-year-old software engineer, described himself as an "average guy" with a day job.
Liza, a criminal lawyer and law professor for over 20 years, said: "I’m just chill. I’m a lawyer, I like teaching, I like staying out of the limelight like my son."
Liza said her husband's defeat in the 2016 vice presidential elections stung her so and gave her second thoughts on his plans to vie for the presidency.
"I didn’t want him to get hurt because in 2016 when he lost it was really a painful experience for him," said Liza.
Marcos had filed numerous cases questioning Robredo's win, with the latest one being unanimously junked by the Supreme Court in January 2021.
Vinny, meanwhile, expressed concern over his life as a private citizen, as he's currently working in Singapore.
"I know my mom called me saying ‘How are you? How are you in Singapore? By the way, heads up, your dad might be running for president’ and I was like 'oh god security, no more freedom, more cameras’ because I really try and stay out of the public life if I can help it."
He’s a great guy, a great father. I’ve never seen him hurt a fly.
But Vinny said that he wants his father "to be happy, above anything else.
"I want him to do whatever he feels in order to feel fulfilled and in that case I do support my father just because I want him to be happy," said Vinny.
Growing up Marcos
But despite their affluence, Vinny described his childhood growing up in Ilocos Norte as "relatively normal". By the time he and his brothers were 11, they were sent to the Worth School boarding school in England.
"It wasn’t even in Laoag it was by the beach. I grew up next to the beach so I was never influenced by money or by expensive stuff. My dad naman is kuripot so all I knew was the beach and the house."
Vinny's brothers, Sandro (27) and Simon (26) have also been under the public eye since they were born, with Sandro now following in his father and grandfather's footsteps by seeking a congressional post as the first district representative of Ilocos Norte.
Sandro graduated with a master's degree in Development Studies from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2016.
"Sandro [is] very blunt, he doesnt beat around the bush. If he doesn't like something or if my dad gives him advice and he doesn't like it, he will definitely say something," Vinny said.
"Simon, he’s more like dad because he’s a little quieter, reserved, thoughtful."
Being a Marcos, Vinny said he's grown accustomed to the criticism: "I think it’s harder for my mom because she had to take it on but the three of us we grew with that, that’s a normal part of our life."
"I'm born with my name. For me, it’s just my father’s name and my family’s name but obviously every else, it has so much meaning. I’ve always gotten those comments even at three years old."
"What can you really do? You can’t really debate when so you just take it," he said.
Asked by Abunda how the family is dealing with the "polarized political landscape," Liza said: "I just say smile. I don’t have Facebook or Twitter so I really don’t engage but I know so many people who do and there’s so much hatred."
Vinny chimed in and described the current environment is "not a good place to be in."
"Ako naman sanay naman ako, growing up I’ve always been a Marcos so when it comes to the haters it’s normal for me. I heard it growing up. But there’s so many supporters now it’s so hard to be negative. Sobrang passionate din sila," said Vinny.
Bongbong as a father, husband
Liza and Marcos Jr. met in New York in the late 1980s while the Marcos family was in the country to face charges that Imelda Marcos had spent $200 million from the Philippine treasury and brought it to America. She was acquitted of the fraud charges at the time.
"There was no harana, that’s for sure. We met through a mutual friend during the trial (in New York) and we were just friends, it wasn’t love at first sight or whatever."
She added that though they had not been officially dating, he pushed to meet her parents and gave her a Filipino meal to start their courtship: "After a couple of days he gave me tapa, and said ‘oh tayo na ah.’ Tapa and tayo na."
23 years later, Liza emphasizes the kindness that she witnessed from her husband.
"He’s very kind. For someone for intelligent, he’s so kind. That’s why I married him. Syempre before I’d hear all these stories and when you get to know him naman... Hindi napipikon."
"If he’s going through a tough time he just turns around quietly and goes ‘give me strength,'" Vinny added.
Marcoses in the Malacañang
Though his father has been consistently leading in the pre-election surveys, Vinny said he is not giving much thought about an eventual victory for now.
To enter government? No way. They can’t afford me, number one. And I’ll fire all of them.
"At the moment because since 2016 we are all so super superstitious. No amount of lead can make me comfortable with speculating with what I’m gonna do after the election," Vinny said.
Asked by Abunda whether she is looking up to any role model should she be the next first lady, Liza said: "My role model is me. Maybe my mom or my Lola, that’s as far as it goes."
When asked about the possibility of being an "art, culture, and fashion ambassador" by Abunda as a first lady, Liza alluded to the experience of Imelda Marcos, and thought about how she could possibly have accumulated her reported 3,000 pair of shoes.
"They did this whole thing about my mother-in-law having 3,000 pairs of shoes. And now in this campaign, people are giving me outfits and shoes and we haven’t even started. Imagine she was first lady for 30 years. Imagine how much stuff you accumulate. That’s just an aside," said Liza.
Aside from being a honed criminal lawyer, the Araneta-born Liza is also a partner in the Ortigas-based MOST Law Firm (formerly Marcos Ochoa Serapio Tan Law Offices). Liza said she doesn't see herself entering politics anytime soon.
"I’ll cross the bridge when I get there, but if ever, teaching will be good. I’m a lawyer, but to enter government no way? They can’t afford me, number one. And I’ll fire all of them,” she joked.
"I’m very New York, so it has to be my way or the highway."
Why Marcos Jr.?
Vinny urged the public to take an "objective view" of his father before casting their votes on May 9. He also referenced his father's years as an Ilocos Norte official that started during the Martial Law.
"I think in politics, there’s a tendency to paint people as very good or very evil. If I think he’s the greatest person in the world then he can’t be all that bad. So maybe try to take a more objective view," he said.
"I’ve seen Laoag for what it was to what it is now. For me, he’s a great guy, a great father. I’ve never seen him hurt a fly, so just for that I would say go for it," Vinny added.
Liza, meanwhile, cited the former senator's advocacy to be a public servant despite their family living a financially comfortable life.
"He’s a good guy and I think it’s his time. If we had our way, why would he enter politics? We’re already comfortable so it’s really to serve. When he says public service, he really wants to serve."