Support for Marcos widespread among Batac youth

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(L-R) Irene Marcos-Araneta, Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos, former first lady Imelda Marcos, and former senator and 2016 vice-presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos.

Batac, Ilocos Norte (CNN Philippines, September 11) — The name Marcos often elicits mixed reactions, but in Batac it is met mostly with cheers.

If Manila serves as a battleground of opinions on the controversial family of Ferdinand Marcos, Batac -- hometown of the former President -- is the bedrock of public views heavily tilted towards them.

Also read: Duterte not attending Marcos' 100th birth anniversary

When asked if they're Marcos supporters, many Batac residents answer with a solid "of course."

The family's political influence here and the rest of Ilocos Norte is undeniable.

Ferdinand's daughter, Imee, is Ilocos governor. His wife, former first lady Imelda, is 2nd district representative, while nephew Angelo Marcos Barba is vice governor.

Also read: Marcos family requested Sept. 11 non-working holiday in Ilocos Norte

Residents say it's hard to find critics in the quiet city, which counts the late President as its most famous resident.

And while the city's youth were not witnesses to the Marcos presidency -- many remain as receptive to the clan as their parents.

They showed no signs of wavering support for the family.

Marcos was deposed from his 21-year-rule after mass protests during the EDSA revolution in 1986, but the people of Batac stayed staunchly loyal to him and his family.

Also read: Batac vendors take a hit after Marcos' burial at the LNMB

Millennials say the Marcoses run the province well, citing infrastructure and community projects as proof of the family's work as effective public officials.

"Maganda dito sa Ilocos," Kichel Pungtilan, 19, said.

[Translation: Things are good here in Ilocos.]

Around here, both young and old sing a mostly singular tune.

From relatives and elders, the young people say they hear stories of a decisive leader who brought order to the country.

"Talagang diktador siya pero makikita naman natin yung mga accomplishments niya, tulad sa infrastructure," Kichel said.

[Translation: He's really a dictator but you could see his accomplishments, like in infrastructure.]

It's also an internet-centered education for these millennials, who get their knowledge from the web, other than from books and school.

MS Biology student Charles Sagun, 22, says media and the internet are important sources of information for him, and he tries to stick to credible sources.

Also read: Marcos hometown holds muted celebrations on strongman's centennial

"Dun sa mga facts lang ako naniniwala, kumbaga sa mga pure research," he said.

[Translation: I only believe in facts, pure research.]

"Di naman sa lahat… kumbaga yung mas maraming taong naniniwala sa ganito," he added, when asked how he vets information when reading online.

[Translation: It's not applicable with everything, but (it's usually more reliable) if more people believe this.]

Based on information from these sources, some admit they support the Marcos family, but acknowledge the former strongman had shortcomings.

"Meron akong alam na mabuti siyang ginawa pero may sides na 'di kaaya aya," 19 year old BS Fisheries student Jenina said.

[Translation: I know he's done good things but there are also sides of him that were not ideal.]

But they are defensive on the issue of the family's ill-gotten wealth, noting that the Marcos family was well-off to begin with.

"Kasi noon according sa mga parents namin, talagang mayaman na sila noon. Pati si Ma'am Imelda diba? Marami na talaga silang pera noon daw," 24-year-old nurse, Mafae Flojo said.

[Translation: According to our parents, they were already rich then. Even Ma'am Imelda, right. They already had a lot of money back then.]

But others say they are delaying their judgment until a more decisive ruling is made.

"Di pa naman kasi napapatunayan kaya wala lang," Kichel added.

[Translation: They haven't proven it so, I don't mind it much.]

"Marcos talaga," students Dianason Ruiz and Shaina May Fariñas said on how widespread support for Marcos is among their circle. They said they don't know anyone who is not.

With millennials, it also helps that younger Marcoses bridge the gap between the clan's older generations and the youth in Batac. All the young people interviewed said they'd vote for a Marcos for president.

In the past week's events marking Marcos' centennial birth anniversary in the city, the strongman's grandsons were almost celebrities. They were showered with selfie requests from eager fans.

Every now and then, there would be squeals of glee from the crowd. "He touched my shoulder," one girl gushed, referring to a Marcos cousin.

The Marcos patriarch's only son, former Senator Bongbong Marcos, takes it all in stride but makes clear that his family is not ready to fade away from the political stage.  

Also read: Imee Marcos tells Bongbong's supporters to be patient in poll case

"Puwede na mag-retire. Pabayaan mo na sila na tatakbo," he quipped.