By Marivir R. Montebon
New York City — The Philippines’ most powerful man, President Ferdinand Marcos stood against the marriage of Carlos P. Romulo, his foreign minister, to Ms. Beth Day Romulo, an American journalist in New York.
In the words of Ms. Romulo herself in the memoir The Writer, the Lover, and the Diplomat Life with Carlos P. Romulo (Anvil Publishing, 2015), Pres. Marcos was so disturbed when he learned about the affair, had to be left alone for long, not accepting any call, and wrote a long handwritten letter to the General. He pointed that it was the worst time to marry an American journalist when the US-RP military bases agreement was renegotiated.
“Any concessions you make to the other side our people will blame you and say it is because of her influence,” warned the president.
There was an impasse. Gen. Romulo would not back down on marrying his “foreign affair”, a term which Ms. Romulo gave herself in relation to her romance to CPR. He was, after all, a high profile Philippine statesman and widely known as Mr. United Nations for having served as president of the General Assembly. Pres. Marcos wanted to keep his foreign affairs secretary. Was there a compromise between love and public duty?
So, I should finish reading this book to find out what happened.
Ms. Romulo is now 91 years old and lives happily in Manila, surrounded by the Romulo grandchildren. She has embraced the Philippines as her home and said she loves how inclusive the culture is. She is remembered most for her book The Rise and Fall of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos.
Her CPR memoir was launched early this year in a private event in the Philippines. Last night, October 20, it was New York’s turn to launch it at the auspices of the Philippine Center. The Carlos P. Romulo Foundation, the Philippine Consulate General New York, and the Fil-Am Press Club of New York put the event together.
Co-author David Hyatt, a Voice of America journalist, told members of the press on how the book project got into his hands, quite by wonderful surprise. Hyatt is a foreign correspondent for the VoA, covering extensively in Asia and the Philippines in the early 1980s. He was able to interview Gen. Romulo just a few months before his demise in 1985.
At the press briefing, I asked the Mr. Hyatt how Ms. Romulo and the general managed to sustain their marriage, despite the cultural gaps of being Filipino and American. He swiftly answered, you should read the book. The answer would be long and exciting.
The Writer, the Lover, and the Diplomat Life with Carlos P. Romulo is available amazon.com