First priority: our family’s comfort and its party-parties.

That about sums up Bongbong Marcos’s scale of urgencies. Judging by his record the past six months, he is not a working president, definitely not a pro-active one except in cases where his family’s luxury is concerned.

While the nation reels in bread-and-butter issues where even the lowly onion has shot up to an astronomical 720 pesos per kilo, the Marcoses have no qualms to display how extremely keen they are to lavish themselves with money that comes from our own pockets.

Liza Araneta Marcos herself had earlier posted photos and videos of her leading the groundbreaking of a new Palace catering building back in September. Yet we all know the Palace already had such a facility since a long time ago. Lamented party-list representative Arlene Brosas back then (and she was squarely right): there is no budget for pandemic ayuda and additional classrooms, yet when the Marcoses want a quick allocation of funds for their whims and caprices, money is released pronto.

But for the Marcoses then and now, there is an inherent callousness at coming to terms with a nation mired in a cost of living crisis. After the new catering building, the next project was also rushed but hushed – their official residence.

As Manila’s air navigation facilities went kaput (commissioned in 2018 under Rodrigo Duterte) and planes midway into their flights were turned back because of zero radio response on January 1st, something was brewing at Bahay Pangarap.

The presidential residence across the Pasig from the Palace had been torn down. In fact, news of its renovation back in November had been picked up scarcely by media, meaning there was no official Palace announcement. In its place, four inter-connected villas were constructed – one for the Marcos couple, and one each for their three children. Are they planning to live there forever and ever?

Those involved in the construction were expressly told not to take photos. But the Marcoses probably could not contain their glee at the prospect of living in a new posh dwelling. Workers took stolen shots, and one even had a selfie with the president.

As December came to a close, only the first house was about to be finished. This one has two bedrooms, one for the husband and another for the wife. But there was one deadline to make – the Marcoses wanted a New Year’s Eve party at their new Bahay Pangarap. So the cavernous party salon was rushed, complete with new modern chandeliers. Landscaping for the new pocket gardens surrounding the villas had to be completed.

How much did this project eat into our pockets? There is no disclosure.

Bahay Pangarap was in no run-down condition to be renovated. In fact, the previous Bahay Pangarap (designed by Juan Arellano) was last renovated by architect Conrad Onglao in 2008 under Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who had it administered under the Internal House Affairs Office of the Office of the President. Her aim was to use it as a venue to welcome state guests. It was her mother Eva Macapagal who named it Bahay Pangarap in the 1960s as a rest house and integral part of the 19-hectare Malacañang Park across the Pasig.

The 2008 Bahay Pangarap was not even old in chronological age. The architecture in fact was contemporary modern. The two immediate past presidents had resided there: Benigno Aquino III (who was given the choice of the house by the Presidential Security Group because he had wanted to continue going home to the Aquino residence in Quezon City), and Rodrigo Duterte.

Bongbong Marcos had again tapped architect Onglao to build him a new Bahay Pangarap. Now, he, Liza, sons Sandro, Simon and Vincent can rest their heads easy in a plush villa of their own dreams even if the rest of the country wallow in poverty and joblessness.

The Marcos brand of governance is truly back: the extravagance of a nouveau-riche family with no conscience to squander peoples’ money for their own privileged elitism.

In a country where everyone can no longer afford onions, the ruling family freely throws away taxpayer’s money to serve their lust for opulence. Something is very wrong there, and it becomes more wrong if we do not register our critical citizenship at such misgoverning.