Bongbong Marcos is a risk taker.

He is not ashamed to be called the “Manchurian candidate” after he appeared at a Chinese embassy event and had himself photographed with the Chinese ambassador at a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos is well aware that Filipinos have a strong anti-China sentiment as shown by annual Social Weather Stations (SWS) surveys.

Filipinos do not trust China after what it did in the South China Sea, when it seized Philippine sovereign waters and built artificial islands within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Chinese maritime law enforcement vessels have been denying local fishermen access to Scarborough Shoal since 2012 after taking full control of the area.

China is being blamed not only for its excessive claim on the South China Sea — a violation of the 1982 United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (Unclos), which was also affirmed by the Philippines’ legal victory at the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague in 2016 — but also for flooding the country with illegal drugs and smuggled items, from farm products to consumer goods.

China was also blamed for spreading the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) which has infected more than 2.6 million Filipinos and killed nearly 30,000 people.

It is no secret that China wants to influence the outcome of elections next year, covertly supporting and openly showing its approval of a candidate who can be as friendly as President Rodrigo Duterte.

China has enjoyed the “golden years” of bilateral relations under Duterte, who has taken steps to distance himself from the Philippines’s oldest and only treaty ally, the United States.

Duterte is the only sitting president who did not undertake a state or an official visit to Washington, but has been to Beijing at least five years before the coronavirus pandemic.

China obviously would want the “special relations” to continue in the next administration after Duterte’s departure in June 2022, punching a hole in the United States’ imaginary defense line in the Indo-Pacific region which runs from Japan in the north to Australia in the south.

Bongbong is a risk taker.

He will do whatever it takes to win the presidency next year, redeeming the Marcos’ family honor after his father was chased out from power in a popular, military-backed uprising in 1986.

It was the dream of his mother, Imelda Romualdez Marcos, to see a Marcos sit again in Malacañan Palace, a crowning glory for the family after successfully burying Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in 2016.

But the Marcos family is unrepentant. Imelda and his children have refused to apologize for the “sins” of the dictator during his 20-year iron-fisted rule. They continued to deny that Marcos stole money from the government, which was estimated to reach more than $10 billion in cash, shares of stocks, jewelry, artworks, and property abroad and in the country.

Bongbong can’t deny that he is not innocent of the “sins” of his father. He was no longer a toddler when Marcos raped the country. He was photographed in military fatigue uniform standing close to his father during the EDSA 1986 revolt.

It’s unimaginable how the family has been living like royalty until now, when Marcos declared only P120,000 in wealth in his statements of assets, liability and net worths (SALN) before he was elected president in 1965.

In the documentary, “The Kingmaker,” Imelda boasted that she had 170 bank accounts, when most ordinary Filipinos up to now do not have a single bank account.

In the same documentary, Imelda said she missed the time when she enjoyed shopping in New York and in London and jet-setting to meet with leaders like Muammar Khaddafy, Saddam Hussein, and Mao Zedong.

In her twilight years, she hopes to relive the 1970s and wishes to see Bongbong fulfill her dreams.

Bongbong is a risk taker.

He continued to court the support of the Duterte administration to anoint him as his successor after Sara Duterte-Carpio appeared not interested in running for president when she filed for reelection as Davao City mayor early this month.

She has until Nov. 15 to change her mind and run for a national position, either as president or as vice president to Bongbong.

Bongbong needs the Dutertes for his presidential run. He does not want to spend his family’s ill-gotten wealth in an election which he could actually lose.

He already lost money when he was narrowly defeated in the vice presidential race in 2016 by eventual winner Leonor Robredo. He also lost in the costly electoral protest.

In the meantime, he has spent money and effort in the last five years to deodorize the family’s name, flooding social media with propaganda and distorting history to reconstruct his father’s myth.

This time, Bongbong wants the government to bankroll his campaign. He said he intended to team up with Duterte after the latter was nominated by the ruling party as its vice presidential candidate for the May 2022 elections.

Now he wants Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go to be his vice president for a very obvious reason — for the entire government machinery to carry him.

But the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Bayan) fielded Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa as the party’s standard bearer, snubbing Marcos.

Pre-election opinion polls showed that Bongbong has been catching up with Sara’s numbers, which dropped because of her denial that she was running for president.

A commissioned survey, which was not made public but was talked about in various political circles, showed that Bongbong has overtaken Sara by a point, but is in a three-way statistical tie with her and Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso.

Political observers said the next survey in November-December would be a more accurate gauge of the political contest as the third-quarter poll included personalities not running for president.

They said three candidates who have low ratings — Robredo and Senators Emmanuel Pacquiao and Panfilo Lacson — were expected to move up after filing their certificates of candidacy.

Robredo has the momentum given the social media noise after she unveiled her pink campaign. Pacquiao also is moving up. The Visayas and Mindanao votes could transfer to him if Sara drops out of the race for good.

Lacson, who has a more methodical, ground-based campaign, moved up incrementally up from 1 percent to 4 percent and 8 percent. He wants to see his number climb to 15 percent by December and 25 percent by March 2022 to be in contention.

Sara’s numbers are expected to fall further and Bongbong’s will move up slightly to pole position. Isko’s numbers are expected to remain static and may even decline after he was perceived to be the president’s “secret candidate.”

He has stopped attacking Duterte, focusing his energies on Robredo. Several Duterte officials have been rumored to have joined his team either openly or secretly, including former de facto ambassador to Taiwan Lito Banayo, political strategist Vince Dizon, and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.

Bongbong’s numbers are shaky and unimpressive. In past elections, pre-election favorites used to have more than 30 percent voter preference but these top contenders ended up as losers.

Billionaire former senator Manuel Villar led surveys but fell behind eventual winner Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III in the 2010 elections.

Former vice president Jejomar Binay and Sen. Grace Poe led all the way in surveys but placed fourth and third, respectively behind former interior secretary Mar Roxas and winner Duterte in 2016.

Bongbong’s 20 percent is not a comfortable lead. Anything can happen between now and May 2022. The political contest is too tight even with Sara in the race.

The uncertainty in the elections will force Bongbong to gamble with his chances. He will continue to drown social media with his distorted propaganda and will also attempt to get China and Duterte’s support and win at all costs.

It’s a winner-take-all elections so he will risk it all to fulfill his mother’s dream.