Ret. Sgt. Arturo Boquiren was a presidential guard of Former President Ferdinand E. Marcos (FEM) from 1970 to 1985, assigned primarily to the latter’s study room that his daughter, Governor Imee R. Marcos, describes as having “connected him to his cabinet, the military, and the outside world.”
Boquiren’s tasks were to prepare documents for Marcos’ signature, telephone cabinet secretaries and schedule appointments, and arrange the president’s overall schedule, among others. He was also witness to a number of President Marcos’ meetings, including two instances wherein he scolded and cursed two different government officials for corruption.
“He wanted to stop them from being corrupt,” said Boquiren, quoting Marcos as having cursed them and lamenting, “’Sinabihan ko na kayo, huminto na kayo! Alam ba ninyo na milyon-milyong tao ang hindi kumakain nang husto sa isang araw?’”
Being one of FEM’s most trusted men, he also managed a portion of the president’s finances and was in charge of distributing salaries of the guards assigned to the Malacañang of the North in Paoay, Ilocos Norte, while it was being constructed.
“But I have not even seen it since it was completed,” he added jokingly. Now at the age of 83, he is often confined to a wheelchair but still desires to visit Ilocos Norte to see the completed Paoay residence of the Marcos family.
The Malacañang of the North today serves as an open museum of FEM’s life, works, and achievements.
Boquiren also recalled how FEM consolidates data for his speeches, saying that the latter is truly a good public speaker. He describes FEM as a very industrious, intelligent, and studious person.
“Intelihente siya [FEM]. Papatawagin sa akin yung mga secretaries kapag may kailangang data. For example, about agriculture ‘yan, i-order niyang ipasa lahat sa kanya yung data na kailangan. He will sit in the office with the data, together with a stenographer. Ire-revise niya ‘yan at hindi na niya titignan pag nag-speech na,kasi alam na niya. ”
Alleged ill-gotten wealth
With regards to the controversial “ill-gotten” wealth, Boquiren firmly stated that “hindi nagnakaw ang mga Marcos. Hindi ka niya pinapahirapan. Hindi ka niya inutangan.”
Amidst all the propaganda and negative stories focused on FEM and his family in the past decades, Boquiren shares an important lesson learned during his service, saying “Sabi niya [FEM] politiko ka man o hindi, you will always have enemies, but if you satisfy six out of ten people, you are already good.’
“Ang mga kausap ko noon araw-araw ay hindi mga ordinaryong tao. May mga makakaaway din ako, kaya naman ang dami ko talagang natutunan doon at sa kanya.”
He also criticized some books published about the former president as untrue, and pointed out how writers today are distorting information just to make headlines.
“Yung mga writer ngayon, yung ten nila nagiging 20, yung 20 nagiging 30. Kung ‘di sobra, kulang.”
Boquiren was able to meet FEM’s eldest daughter, Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos, on her visit to San Carlos City in Pangasinan Province yesterday, March 22. He received a special mention from Governor Marcos, who introduced him as “the most influential and loyal person in the study room at the Office of the President FEM.”
“I am grateful that Miss Imee still remembers me, and that she had revived all those memories again,” said Boquiren.