Estimates vary of course. But when the Marcoses, their close relatives, associates, and assistants left Malacañang in 1986, the amount that they reportedly stole was estimated at $10 billion.
Based on informal calculations I made using wolframalpha.com — no fancy formulas involved, just a logical way of formulating a text-based question (not exactly rocket science) — $10 billion then is worth $19.7 billion now.
Multiply that by the current peso-dollar exchange rate — P46 to a greenback — and you get an estimated P906.2 billion.
How much is P906.2 billion?
More than half of the Philippine national budget of 2010.
Okay, let’s exaggerate a bit. It’s still more than half of the Aquino administration’s proposed budget for 2011, which is P1.7 trillion.
Let’s not even count cash they stole that remains unreported.
And let’s not even think about the “opportunity costs” lost — say, the economic multiplier effect had X amount of money been allotted to land reform — because the government failed to recover the wealth immediately.
In short, if the government isn’t going to do anything about it, or if they do so haphazardly, what Imelda Marcos once said when asked about ger family’s stupendous wealth might be proven true: that some are smarter than others.
I was once more reminded of the enormity — which has two meanings, both appropriate, look them up — of the Marcos’ ill-gotten wealth after I read the first chapter of Imelda and the Clans: A Story of the Philippines.
The 600-plus page book was written by Beatriz Romualdez Francia, who, among others, describes herself as Imelda’s “dissident niece.”
Here are some numbers I derived after reading the first chapter.
Number of the Marcos entourage members — including “hairdressers, gardeners, closest henchmen” — that left Malacañang in February 1986: 89
Height, in feet, of a Malacañang closet that stored Imelda’s nightgowns: 10
Number of gowns stored in said closet: 1,200
Number of shelves that contained unused Gucci handbags: 5
Total number of Gucci handbags stored in said shelves: 1,500
Number of black brassieres stored in the same closet: 500
Number of clothes racks that were empty: 67
Number of mink coats: 15
Number of silver fox stoles: 6
Number of parasols: 65
Number of scarves: 464
Number of handkerchiefs: 664
Number of sunglasses found stuffed in a chest: 71
Number of teddy bears with “loving words from George [presumably Hamilton]: 1
Thanks to Michael Francis McCarthy for the photo of the book.