Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos has been in office for almost 17 years, but his state visit next month will be only his second official trip to Washington.
To prepare for it, Marcos sent his wife Imelda to town last month to confer with Vice President George Bush and CIA Director William Casey. Bush's office called it a "courtesy call." The presidential visit will mark her fourth trip here in less than a year.
The Philippine first lady, governor of metro Manila, minister of human settlements in her husband's government and new member of the committee that will assume power in the event of his death, also was in the Soviet Union last month on a "working visit."
About a month ago, Marcos also sent his wife's younger brother, Benjamin Romualdez, to Washington as the new Philippine ambassador. Romualdez, who helped arrange Marcos' 1966 visit, succeeds his cousin, Eduardo Z. Romualdez, and is one of a quartet of Filipino diplomats with ambassadorial rank assigned to the embassy. The others are here temporarily, just to work on the visit.
Also in preparation for his absence from the Philippines, Marcos announced on Sunday the formation of a 1,000-member special police force to patrol Manila. He said his action was in response to "intelligence reports that there is a plan for a nationwide strike, which will be accompanied by nationwide bombings and assassinations" in September, and perhaps while he was away.
Meanwhile, instead of hiring an American public relations firm to do something about the Marcos government's image problem as an authoritarian state, the embassy has beefed up its press operations here and since late spring has been publishing an English-language weekly newspaper called Philippine Monitor.
"Our side of some issues made against our president hasn't been heard," says one source. "We're trying to counter that."
About a dozen staffers have been pulled in from around world to serve as correspondents. They file their stories directly to Manila, where they say printing costs are cheaper. The tabloid is then flown by government-owned Philippine Airlines to the United States.
Right now the press run totals 50,000 copies, which are distributed free of charge among the 1 million Filipino-Americans who live coast-to-coast. Once Marcos returns home, the Monitor will go commercial and solicit advertising and paid subscriptions.
Another commercial venture with Marcos government backing is a Georgetown restaurant. "We're encouraging private businessmen and we're lending assistance by helping them get food items," says an official. The restaurant is as yet unnamed, but a location has been chosen. If all goes according to schedule the restaurant will open for business in time to feed members of the Marcos' official party and any others who hanker for Philippine cuisine, which the official described as "a blend of Polynesian with Chinese fare, as well as Spanish dishes."
One story behind Consumer Product Safety Commission Chairman Nancy Steorts having spent $10,000 to refurbish her office last fall is told in a new Nader Group book entitled "Reagan's Ruling Class: Portraits of the President's Top 100 Officials." It's due in bookstores later this month.
Steorts, you will remember, ordered new carpeting and draperies and had a new entrance built and the walls of her office repainted when she moved in last August. There were those who thought her timing indelicate, coinciding as it did with budget cuts that closed down half of CPSC's regional offices and forced the dismissal of 200 of its 750-member staff. But the way Steorts explained it later to Nader aide Ron Brownstein, the work was "maintenance" because the place was "literally filthy."
"Those doors," Brownstein quotes her as saying as she pointed toward a closet in her office, "had bloodstains on them."
Not sure he had heard her correctly, Brownstein says that a few weeks later he asked her about it again. According to Brownstein's account in the book, which he and Nina Easton coauthored, Steorts repeated her assertion that there were "bloodstains on the panels." She said she had no idea how they got there.
Steorts was not available for comment but her public relations director, Lou Brott, said the stains had looked like nail polish to him. "I don't know where this blood stuff came from," he said.
That's also a mystery to Susan King, Steorts' predecessor and now director of consumer affairs for the Corning Glass Co. She said she inherited the office from the previous Republican chairman, John Byington, but never had it redecorated.
"If there were any bloodstains," joked King, "they were John Byington's."
Between the two of them, GOP Reps. J. William Stanton of Ohio and Robert McClory of Illinois spent 38 years in Washington looking for the keys to success. Now that neither one is seeking reelection, their wives have decided to take a further look.
Peggy Stanton and Doris McClory are setting up shop in Georgetown's Marbury House as public relations consultants doing business under the name "Creative Solutions."
"Everybody has some problem and if there ever was a town that needed some creative solutions it's Washington," half-jokes Peggy Stanton, a Washington observer since 1964, when she went to work as White House correspondent for Metromedia before moving to ABC as its first woman network correspondent here.
Rounding out the partnership with her and McClory, another TV dropout who once was a producer of "What's My Line," is Arlene Gray, a Capitol Hill veteran from Rep. Stanton's office. With an auxiliary staff of part-time consultants that will include columnist Charles Bartlett's wife Martha and Sen. Mark Hatfield's wife Antoinette, they will plan seminars and other programs for corporate, political and trade associations.
One seminar Stanton and McClory, as members of the Congressional Club, set up for newly arrived congressional wives several years ago was "How to Survive in Washington." They brought in experts on everything from housing to protocol. To their surprise, the audience included as many old Washington hands as newcomers, eager to catch up on the things they said nobody ever told them.
Though the partners are going into business at a time when hundreds of others are going out, Stanton thinks that's exactly what Creative Solutions is all about. "We've got to look for more innovative ways of doing business," she says. "That's the only way we're going to solve the problems of this economy."