The Marcos children were vital to mobilizing a new generation to support their family’s administration. On September 21, 1977, the fifth anniversary of Martial Law, a massive rally was staged at Quirino Grandstand in Luneta by the Kabataang Barangay (KB), the youth arm of the dictatorship created two years earlier. Here President Ferdinand Marcos addressed an estimated 400,000 youth from 50 schools, colleges, and universities around Manila. In a long speech he claimed Martial Law’s success in social and economic development, and announced a new referendum that will not only affirm his leadership, but also set the stage for the possibility of the first national election since 1972 and a shift to the parliamentary form of government. He exhorted the youth to step up in support of the government, emphasizing the slogan: “Makialam, Ikaw ang Bagong Pilipino (Get Involved, You are the New Filipino)”.

The Daily Express reported that prior to their father’s arrival at the venue, the Marcos children Imee, Irene, and Bongbong led around 300,000 youth in calisthenics. Imee, KB national chair at 21, then led the rehearsals for chanting the new KB slogan, as seen in this clip. “Pagdating ng erpat ko (when my dad arrives), we’ll raise our hands in clenched fist and cry ‘Makialam (Get involved),’” said Imee. Bongbong, 20, acted as his father’s understudy, waving to the crowd in the manner of his dad. Later that day, President Marcos and his children recognized 15 outstanding KB members and formations at the Parangal sa Bagong Pilipino Awards held at Malacañang Palace. The next month, Marcos issued PD 1229, which called for a national referendum on December 17, 1977, with the question: “Do you vote that President Ferdinand E. Marcos continue in office as incumbent president and be prime minister after the organization of the Interim Batasang Pambansa as provided for in Amendment no. 3 of the 1976 Amendments to the Constitution?” The New York Times reports on December 17 that year: “In what has become almost an annual ritual under the martial-law regime here, Filipinos voted today on whether to continue President Ferdinand E. Marcos in office. There have been four previous referendums since Mr Marcos declared martial law in 1972, and he has won each by at least 87 percent…. If the vote is yes, he will remain as President and will also become Prime Minister indefinitely under what is officially described as a new parliamentary form of government. If the vote is no, he will nevertheless remain as President and will also retain the post of Prime Minister until a new interim National Assembly is elected. But because only he can determine when that legislative body will be formed, he in effect cannot lose in the referendum. He abolished the old Congress when he declared martial law.”