In ancient Philippines when datus, rajahs, and sultans ruled a territory, the Maharlika class were a warrior or martial class of freemen, similar to knights in medieval Europe.

But the dictator Ferdinand Marcos gave it another meaning. He claimed he had commanded a guerrilla unit against the Japanese during World War II called “Maharlika,” part of the myth he had woven to achieve greatness.

He later associated the Maharlika with a noble class. There were even portraits in Malacañang, during their time, showing the family with crowns and sashes similar to European royalty.

The Marcoses styled themselves as the Philippines’s royalty, equal to British monarchs and even higher than Southeast Asian sultans, because Malaysia had about 10 of these rulers.

But they were not rich, so the Marcoses decided to plunder the country for his family to live in the style of European royalty. He bought properties abroad. His son was more interested in parties than earning a college degree in London.

Bongbong Marcos, who was elected by a majority of Filipinos in May 2022, wanted to relive the good life under his father’s regime. During the presidential campaign until after he was inaugurated as president, he has been trying to copy his father’s policies, faithfully following in his footsteps.

Sadly, he also wanted to emulate the grandiose lifestyle of his father who really wanted the Filipino people to look up to them as the country’s monarchs.

There was a time when he favored a proposal to rename the country to Maharlika after the late senator Eddie Ilarde had the strange idea of changing the country’s name.

Ilarde and Marcos did not succeed but many streets and buildings were named after Maharlika.

In his first 100 day in office, Marcos Jr has not done anything to alleviate the lives of ordinary people who have to endure rising prices, a weakening peso, and increasing unemployment.

Economists predict the food crisis will worsen in the months ahead as rice, corn, and vegetable production will be affected after “Karding,” internationally known as “Noru,” a powerful typhoon, damaged farmlands in the country’s rice granary.

More workers will be thrown out in the streets as exporters lay off employees in the garment industry due to weak orders from the US and Europe as a result of rising inflation and global supply chain problems.

Marcos Jr was not seen in his first 100 days tackling these issues. But he was seen partying, attending concerts, and watching car races abroad.

It was so insensitive for a leader of the country to abandon his people in the middle of an economic crisis when the price of a Jollibee Chickenjoy meal will become unaffordable to ordinary Filipinos.

Marcos Jr did not hesitate to shell out nearly P400,000 per person for a chance to see the Singapore F1 Grand Prix and waste precious aviation fuel and flight time in using the P2-billion Philippine Air Force GulfStream jet.

Marcos Jr was acting as a royalty or as a head of state rather than as a head of government who must address the food and fuel crisis. He chose to leave the problem-solving to his Cabinet, forgetting that he is also the agriculture secretary.

Agriculture is one of the weakest sectors in the economy. The people are looking up to him to take action on food shortages as well as the importation of practically everything, to the detriment of local farmers.

Political infighting was evident in his political circles that three very important Cabinet positions were vacated before he marked his 100 days in office.

Marcos’s unity coalition is also crumbling. Normally, the president’s political party grows bigger after the elections as many lawmakers and local executives jump ship to join the ruling party.

But the Partido Federal remained small and if there were some political realignments, these politicians moved to other parties, particularly to his cousin’s Lakas Christian-Muslim Democrats Party.

Rodrigo Duterte’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) has warned that it would serve as a fiscalizer, promising to speak out if there are wrongdoings in government.

Marcos Jr won the 2022 elections on the strength of support from the Dutertes. A break between Marcos and the Dutertes could spell trouble for him since he has a thin political base. Duterte remains highly popular.

One indication of a breakup is the ongoing quarrel among social media influencers and vloggers who supported the Marcos and Duterte team in the elections.

The attacks on the political opposition, particularly on former vice president Leni Robredo, has gone down as these troll farms have started hitting each other.

Social media is an effective tool to gauge Marcos’ popularity. Many have started hitting Marcos Jr on two issues – his soft approach to the communists and his new approach to fighting drugs.

Marcos Jr. also has to take heed of the opinion polls showing that 66 percent of the population were concerned with rising inflation, an issue that gave him a poor score.

Workers’ groups, including public school teachers, have been demanding a wage increase. One group has urged Congress to legislate an across-the-board P100 increase in the minimum wage.

The situation should be a wake up call for Marcos Jr who might swiftly lose his popularity if prices keep on increasing, the peso continues to sink against the US dollar, and unemployment worsens.

These are ingredients for potential unrest. Members of the royalty are not immune to social unrest.

In the United Kingdom and its realms, people have been calling to abolish the monarchy. In the Philippines, the president is subtly restoring the Maharlika class by acting as if he is above the fray, wanting to be seen in ceremonies and show off pomp and pageantry instead of dirtying his hands to tackle ordinary people’s problems.

If Marcos does not play his cards well, there will be no restoration of the Maharlika class. He will be a king without a throne because political and economic conditions could conspire against him.