Updated 18:42 PM PHT Tue, March 1, 2016
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — "Any act of extravagance in government will be considered not only an offense to good morals but also an act punishable with dismissal from office."
President Ferdinand Marcos said this during his first inaugural address in 1965. More than 50 years later, the government is still tracking down billions of dollars of ill-gotten wealth stashed away by the Marcos family.
The government has recovered about P168 billion or about $4 billion of the Marcos wealth. But the combined lawful income of Marcos and his wife Imelda that was determined by the Supreme Court from 1965 to 1986 pales in comparison at $304,000.
A state university is reminding the current generation of excesses during the Marcos regime through a photo exhibit of the family's precious stone collections.
This picture shows tiaras made of rubies, pearls and diamonds — with one set estimated at P860,000 back in 2003.
There is also an 18-carat gold belt with a diamond-studded buckle worth P645,000.
What could this amount do? Provide subsidies for 460 poor families under government's conditional cash transfer (CCT) program.
This antique sapphire and diamond necklace is worth 12 classrooms.
This is a 150-carat Burmese ruby that came with a note that told Marcos his wife could not afford it when she saw it in New York.
A visiting student said the exhibit is an eye-opener on the extent of corruption during the Marcos regime.
"Ito yung hindi masayado napag-uusapan, lagi human rights violation, state of poverty. Pero ill-gotten wealth yun ang pwede pang palalimin na pag-usapan," University of the Philippines (UP) student Ben Galil Te said.
[Translation: "This is not talked about much. They always talk about human right violations, the state of poverty, but the ill-gotten wealth could be discussed more."]
The exhibit was brought to the UP by a group that is honoring martyrs during the dictatorship.
The organization is working with the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) to have a separate history subject in schools focusing on the Marcos regime.
The chairman of the UP Department of History is supporting the proposal.
"We take the martial law period leading to EDSA revolt, taken in class in the end of the semester. There are times when the students feel rushed about it, it's not sufficiently discussed in class why martial law was a blight in our history, a very dark period in our history," Dr. Maria Bernadette Abrera said.
The exhibit is helping the present generation appreciate recent history in whatever little information there is in history books.
But it also comes at a time when the son and namesake of the late president, Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., is seeking the vice presidency.