The “Marcos Truths”: A Genealogy of Historical Distortions

The project set out to examine the relationship of pro-Marcos disinformation disseminated online, the printed propaganda that preceded such disinformation, and, to a limited extent, the distorted memorialization of Ferdinand E. Marcos via physical museums and monuments. Our attempt to study these linkages started with gathering online disinformation in favor of the Marcoses as debunked by online fact checkers. Over a hundred distinct lies were gathered and entered into a database-in-progress. Concurrently, an attempt was made to understand the interconnections among those involved in the production of printed propaganda in favor of the Marcoses, with the intent of establishing links, if any, between “offline” and “online” propagandists. Network maps of these individuals/groups were constructed.

We found that 1) the heritage sites that the Marcoses built for their late patriarch in Ilocos Norte are built on propaganda books extolling Ferdinand Marcos’s greatness and that of his dictatorial regime; 2) the Marcoses, their loyalists, and other allies have been producing and reproducing propaganda all these years, with the intended effect of conferring a patina of well-researched scholarship to Marcos lies; 3) the verbiage produced by the pro-Marcos authors has a limited but important influence on the new forms of disinformation that pro-Marcos sites in social media are producing; and 4) the weak link between the current online disinformation and the supposed scholarly, or at the very least, journalistic reiteration of “Marcos truths” points to an important feature of Marcos propaganda production: the point is not to build on an existing lie or an outlandish claim but to saturate the audience with all sorts of information up to a point that the propaganda effort appears to be without an author, that the algorithm of the social media networks geared towards the new and the ridiculous hides the hands of the Marcoses themselves.