William Saunders and Jane Ryan’s expedition with the Philippine Money

by John Carlo Bogayan

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Frances Wadsworth Jone and Pio Abad Photo by: RJ Fernandez

William Saunders and Jane Ryan are the names used by Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos to open a Swiss bank account. In December 31, 1966, the former dictator Marcos declared $30, 000 in his statement of assets and liabilities and net worth (SALN). On March 20-21, 1968, the Marcos couple opened swiss bank accounts amounting to $950,000.

After nearly five decades, the unexplained wealth of the Marcoses still lingers in the mind of the Filipino people. The people of the country seek justice where it should be. Pio Abad, a Filipino UK-based artist, has dedicated 8 years of his life exploiting the in-explained wealth of the Marcoses.

The art exhibit entitled “Phantom Limb” hosted by Jameel Art Center, is delighted to bring together artists who, through a diverse range of practices, interrogate our lived relationships to material heritage, navigating the complex and contested terrains of memory, memorialization and the writing of histories.

In this exhibit, Pio Abad and his wife, Frances Wadsworth Jones reproduced 3D replicas of Marcos’ jewelry collection. Which includes a 25 carat pink diamond worth 5 million dollars and a tiara made out of pearls and diamonds taken from the Russian tsar’s family in 1918.  The US Customs at Honolulu Airport seized a portion of some 413 pieces owned by the late president in 1986.

19th century diamond tiara that can fund the treatment of 12,000 cases of Tuberculosis until full recovery

The 3D replicas are not luxurious materials rather it was made by the couple to serve as a spectral reconstruction with a different story to tell. A reminder what William Saunders and Jane Ryan made with the government fund.

One of the Marcos’ jewelry collections is the 19th century diamond tiara that can fund the treatment of 12,000 cases of Tuberculosis until full recovery. In addition, an antique diamond and sapphire necklace that can provide electricity to approximately 2, 250 households in off grid areas. Lastly, an antique intense pink diamond, worth the combined construction of Bicol International Airport, and the renovation of Sanga-sanga Airport in Tawi Tawi. It was a glimpse of the loss-privilege and suffering of the Filipino people for the pleasure of the few.

An antique diamond and sapphire necklace that can provide electricity to approximately 2,250 households
An Antique intense pink diamond worth combined construction for Bicol International Airport and renovation of Sang-sanga Airport in Tawi-Tawi

Pio Abad said in a speech, “In the 8 years that I’ve been working on this project the collection of Jane Ryan and William Saunders has evolved in unexpected, sometimes, unwelcome ways. Most significantly it has become not just an exhaustive attempt at seeking reparation but also an exhausting but necessary process of grieving.”