The Steel Butterfly....
Today, July 2, is the 76th birthday of former First Lady Imelda Romualdez-Marcos. She achieved worldwide notoriety as the widow of former President and Dictator Ferdinand Marcos. She was born on July 2, 1929, to a prominent family in the city of Tacloban in Eastern Visayas. From early on she has lived and still continues to live a very colorful and wide-ranging life, never being far from the public eye. She was a former beauty queen, being voted "Miss Manila" in 1950. In 1954, she married then Congressman Ferdinand Marcos after a much-publicized romance.
After Ferdinand Marcos assumed the Presidency in 1965, she deliberately assumed a bigger role than just being First Lady. Throughout her husband's rule she became the his closest confidante and adviser, the Minister of Human Settlements, and even Governor of Manila. She spearheaded several social welfare, educational, cultural and beautification projects. Unfortunately, she was also the subject of much criticism in view of her ostentatious and lavish lifestyle. Three months after Martial Law was declared by her husband, there was a botched assassination attempt on her by a man wielding a machete. Later on, her husband's authoritarian rule, her own excesses, and allegations of corruption contributed significantly to her and her husband's declining popularity. This bottomed out in February 1986, when she fled to Hawaii alongside her husband when the Marcos administration was toppled in the historic People Power Revolution.
It was soon after this time that her extravagant way of life became public, with the discovery of the numerous possessions she left behind, including a supposed 3,000 pairs of shoes, 200 girdles and 500 brassieres, including a bulletproof one. 684 million dollars from the Philippine treasury was also allegedly whisked away, and hidden in Swiss banks. The money was subsequently awarded to the Philippine government in 2003.
After her husband's death in 1989, she returned to the Philippines, and even ran for President twice, in 1992 and 1998. She lost both attempts, but managed to win a seat in the House of Representives in 1995. She was charged on several instances with corruption and extortion supposedly done during her husband's regime, but was later acquitted.
Some of the Marcos children have followed in their parent's political footsteps. Her son Bong-Bong is currently Governor of the province of Ilocos Norte and her daughter Imee is currently a member of the House of Representatives representing the 2nd District of Ilocos Norte.
Her fame, eccentricity, profligacy and notoriety has made her the subject of a number of movies, plays and documentaries. For better of for worse, she is already an established figure in our country's history. Love her or hate her, she is and still remains a noteworthy icon in Philippine politics.
"I was born ostentatious. They will list my name in the dictionary someday. They will use 'Imeldific' to mean ostentatious extravagance."
"It's the rich you can terrorize. The poor have nothing to lose."
"Win or lose, we go shopping after the election."
"I hate ugliness. You know I'm allergic to ugliness."
and my favorite:
"I did not have three thousand pairs of shoes, I had one thousand and sixty."
The Wit and Wisdom of Imelda Marcos