When Senator Maria Imelda “Imee” Marcos entered Princeton University in 1977, she caused quite a stir. Totally expected. She is the daughter of former President Ferdinand Marcos, after all.
A quick search on Princeton’s website leads to a page from the Daily Princetonian dated Sept. 11, 1973, almost a year after Martial Law was declared in the Philippines. The article reveals that Marcos didn’t show up on the last day of registration for incoming freshmen students. “No administrator knows where Marcos will be living, or when she will be arriving,” the article reads.
Although Marcos was listed in one of the on-campus dormitories, she apparently opted to live off-campus. That was in contrast to an earlier statement from German Domingo, defense attache for the Philippine government, that Marcos wanted to live on-campus like other students. In true Imeldific fashion, she was driven to Princeton by a chauffeur. But what alarmed the student body with her admission to Princeton was her need for armed security personnel. The Asian-American Students Association, along with the Central Committee of the Association of Black Collegians, opposed this arrangement as it was a potential threat to student life.
Read more: Let’s remember Martial Law for Imee Marcos
Even before her entry to the university, the student body protested against her admission due to her dictator father’s “savage repression of the University of the Philippines in 1971,” as well as the declaration of Martial Law. These newspaper clippings are evidence of Marcos’ controversial stay in Princeton. Almost half a century later, Marcos is still hounded by her contentious past. This time, it’s the never-ending debate about her Princeton degree. Does it exist on paper? Or does it belong to the void?
Marcos has answered questions about her background a “gazillion times.” LOL. And from her latest interview with ABS-CBN, it looks like she’s tired of telling people her version of the story. As far as she’s concerned, she graduated from Princeton before she took her law degree at the University of the Philippines.
“It’s an issue na napakaraming issue. Alam mo sabi, wala na rin akong birth certificate, magulo rin kung sino ang ama ko, pati high school, pati elementary ang dami na, e. Patong patong na,” she tells ABS-CBN. In March of this year, her high school education history was also under scrutiny. Santa Catalina School, formerly Santa Catalina Convent, denied that she graduated from the institution, debunking her claim of class valedictorian from the said school. The school has been scratched from her CV since.
Like Santa Catalina, Princeton also invalidated her claim about being a Princeton alum earlier this year. A column from Princetown’s Town Topics also states that she didn’t finish her degree at all: “She never did graduate; she flunked out. At Princeton, that is one thing that is still being taken very seriously.” In an opinion editorial by Raissa Robles, she quotes a statement from UP College of Law dean Froilan Bacungan told to German journalist Marilies von Brevern, which strengthens the claim that she never received a diploma. Here’s an excerpt from the journalist.
“I allowed her to enter the College of Law, in spite of the fact that she couldn’t present a certificate proving that she had a bachelor’s degree which was the basic requirement. ‘I don’t have it now,’ she explained. “Our classes here start in June and American universities end in June.” Four years afterwards, when she could be considered for graduation, we discovered that she never submitted her diploma. She was not given a bachelor of law degree and that meant that she couldn’t take the bar examination.”
Despite all of these points (we haven’t even talked about her stay in UP Law in detail) from opposing parties, Marcos remains unfazed with no intention to apologize.“What am I apologizing for? I’m still getting alumni letters and I keep receiving all these invites,” she says. “I’m confused what I’m supposed to apologize about.”
Since the controversy resurfaced back in 2018, Imee always answered—or dodged—the issue with, “As far as I know, I graduated.” When Interaksyon told her about a statement from a Princeton representative that what she got is a concentration rather than an undergraduate degree, she simply said, “Hindi ko kilala ’yung spokesperson na ’yun.”
The new Senator wants the public to move on from these issues and let her focus on her new job. The elections are a thing of the past, after all. Well, we should not move on. Instead, we should grow up and deal with issues at hand. And if in case, it requires moving on, it should be done with reflection on the past. And actually, Senator Marcos, we don’t really don’t need to ride a time machine back to the ’70s just to prove your claim. What’s the best proof of her claim? Her undergraduate diploma.
Senator Marcos, if you want to lay this issue to rest, please show us your diploma. Isn’t that a basic requirement for any job? If you can show your UP graduation pics, maybe you can show us your Princeton diploma, too. As far as we know, that’s enough proof.
Or if it doesn’t exist, maybe the newly elected Senator can follow the footsteps of her brother former Senator Bongbong Marcos who also made false claims regarding his education history but eventually corrected them. And if she lost her undergraduate diploma, Princeton only charges $75 for replacement diplomas. That’s not much for a Senator like her, right?
Header photo courtesy of Inquirer