Bongbong Marcos’ first formal role in a political office came with his election as vice governor of Ilocos Norte (1980–1983) at the age of 23. In 1983, he led a group of young Filipino leaders on a 10-day diplomatic mission to China to mark the 10th anniversary of Philippine-Chinese relations.

Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., nicknamed ‘Bongbong’, was born on September 13, 1957, to Ferdinand E. Marcos and Imelda Remedios Visitacion Romualdez. His father Ferdinand Sr. was representative of the Second District of Ilocos Norte when he was born, and became senator two years later. His godfathers included prominent Marcos cronies Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr., and pharmaceuticals magnate Jose Yao Campos.

Marcos first studied at the Institucion Teresiana and La Salle Greenhills in Manila, where he obtained his kindergarten and elementary education, respectively.

In 1970, Marcos was sent to England where he lived and studied at the Worth School, an all-boys Benedictine institution in West Sussex, England. He was studying there when his father declared martial law throughout the Philippines in 1972.

He then enrolled at St Edmund Hall, Oxford to study Politics, philosophy, and Economics (PPE). However, despite his false claims that he graduated with a bachelor of arts in PPE, he did not obtain such a degree. Marcos had passed philosophy, but failed economics, and failed politics twice, thus making him ineligible for a degree. Instead, he received a special diploma in social studies, which is awarded mainly to non-graduates.

Marcos enrolled in the Masters in Business Administration program at the Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, United States, which he failed to complete. Marcos asserts that he withdrew from the program for his election as vice governor of Ilocos Norte in 1980. The Presidential Commission on Good Government later reported that his tuition, USD10,000 monthly allowance, and the estate he lived in while studying at Wharton, were paid using funds that could be traced partly to the intelligence funds of the Office of the President, and partly to some of the 15 bank accounts that the Marcoses had secretly opened in the US under assumed names.

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