It’s hard to gloss over the record of Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos, a man with film-star looks who manipulated the political machine, plundered the state to the tune of $10 billion and was responsible for the deaths of thousands of his opponents and the torture of tens of thousands more.

His wife Imelda, with her shoe collection — not to mention 888 handbags, 71 pairs of sunglasses and 65 parasols — became a byword for autocratic excess. And yet, less than four decades after Marcos was forced to flee Manila in a U.S. Air Force plane, his son appears to be on his way back to the Malacanang Palace.

Despite surveys last year suggesting an overwhelming popular preference for incumbent Rodrigo Duterte’s daughter Sara, she agreed to instead contest the separate vice presidential race, leaving Ferdinand Marcos Jr., known as Bongbong, a freer run at for the top spot. Now campaigning in "tandem” with the younger Duterte, polls put the Marcos family scion ahead across the country, with a near-unassailable lead over his nearest rival, opposition icon and the current vice president, Leni Robredo.