IMELDA MARCOS AFTER FERDINAND'S DEATH
After a long legal battle, Imelda was allowed to return to Manila. She returned to the Philippines in 1991, two years after her husband’s death, and took up residence in a luxurious 34th floor condominium in the Makita section of Manila with a remote control device for calling servants and kleenex boxes positioned in different places ready for the times she broke into tears. By the late 1990s, she had massed another collection of 3,000 pairs of shoes.
In 1994, Imelda Marcos was ranked as the world's 13th richest women, with an estimated worth of $1.6 billion. Most of her assets at that time were frozen in Switzerland. At this time she often read from her privately-published spiritual autobiography Circles from Life and was a firm believer in philosophies she called "A Theology of a New Human Order" and "Seven Portals to Peace and Order." In Manila she was known as the “iron butterfly.” "She's ignored," political analyst Alex Magno told New Yorker. "Not being invited to cocktail parties is bad enough. Having to break into cocktail parties is a fate worse than death. I've seen her sitting corners like a wallflower."
By the early 2000s, Imelda had regained some of stature. She was treated as an honored guest at social events and often showed up decked out in a dazzling array of jewelry. She opened her own shoe museum (See Manila) and was occasionally seen having lunch at her favorite Chinese restaurant in a Manila shopping mall or at a corner table at the Penninsual Hotel.
Imelda defended herself against charges of looting up to $10 billion from the Philippine treasury and managed to wriggle out of an 18-year jail sentence for graft. Despite evidence that she and Ferdinand plundered billions of dollars from the treasury, Imelda remains free. She ran for president twice and lost and is now a congresswoman. In 1998, 'gave' the votes she garnered in the presidential election to the winner, Joseph Estrada, who in June 1998 asked the courts to give Imelda a presidential pardon; later that year the Supreme Court acquitted Marcos of corruption charges. In November 2006, she was acquitted of charges in another high-stakes graft case. Imelda in the 2000s
John M. Glionna wrote in the Los Angeles Times, “Surrounded by paintings by Picasso and Gauguin, an impeccably coiffed Imelda Marcos perched regally on the Louis XIV couch in her high-rise flat, discussing her topics of expertise: beauty, fashion and -- of course -- shoes. "For me, beauty has always been a religion. Plato said beauty is God made real," said the former Philippine first lady, wearing a green chiffon pantsuit and matching lime sandals. "I'm a magpie for beauty. But what God doesn't give, you have to make yourself." The 77-year-old widow is still viewed as an icon of class and grace as well as a mindless shoe maven. Imelda, who still sleeps only a few hours a night, spends most of her time poring over her trays of beads and collectibles to make her own jewelry. And she hasn't stopped buying shoes, either: Racks of them fill a huge walk-in closet in her luxury flat in Pacific Plaza, Manila's best residential address. [Source: John M. Glionna, Los Angeles Times, November 5, 2006]
Bruce Wallace wrote in Los Angeles Times, “Imelda Marcos is not just a lady who lunches -- though she does that, too, meeting regularly with her social circle at Manila's finer restaurants and hotels. Despite the ignominious fall from power, she refuses to retreat into seclusion. She ran for president herself, twice, and though she failed, she was elected to Congress in 1995. "The poor people love me," she said one recent evening in the art- and photograph-cluttered living room of her 34th-floor Manila apartment, explaining her enduring appeal. "The poor are looking for a star in the night." [Source: Bruce Wallace, Los Angeles Times, August 19, 2005]
“Imelda has no shortage of shoes -- a shoe rack covers the wall of one room. Admirers send them to her, she says with a shrug. What she misses is the fine art. The government continues to auction off the bulk of the Marcos collection. "Cory auctioned off my paintings by Italian masters, my silverware collection," she says of the Aquino government's moves to recover what it said were national assets stolen by Marcos. She looks incredulous. "And we were the thieves? To Imelda, this is unfinished business. There is wealth to recover. History to rewrite.”
In July 2009, at a birthday party with over 1,000 wealthy guests, Associated Press reported: “She glided down a red carpet with a bouquet of roses, trailed by tuxedo-wearing violin and flute players who rendered her favorite love song. She blew out the candles on her 80th birthday cake amid glittering confetti and fireworks. Imelda Marcos, notorious for her unabashed opulence in her days in power, used the celebration to express confidence she would defeat the last remaining corruption cases against her. [Source: Associated Press, July 3, 2009 *^*]
“Newsweek magazine in April portrayed her as one of the world's greediest people, but it did not upset Marcos. She said she pleads guilty for being the "greediest for the good, true and beautiful." At the party, Bayani Fernando, former mayor of a shoe-making town near Manila, gave Marcos a pair of locally made pink stilettos, saying it was one more pair for her world-famous collection. "Oh thank you, I have one more pair of shoes," a beaming Marcos said as she waved the gift for all to see. Amused friends around her dinner table erupted into applause. *^*
“She remains unashamed of her past, including the many lavish beautification and cultural projects she launched amid the Philippines' extreme poverty. One of them is the swank Manila seaside hotel where her birthday bash was held. Marcos' party, which aides said was paid for by friends, was reminiscent of the extravagant gatherings she threw in her heyday. Opera singers and a pianist performed on a stage adorned with her portrait. Marcos-era friends showed up, including former Indonesian first lady Ratna Sari Dewi Sukarno, who flew in from Japan for the party. Asked if the lavish party was too much amid the financially difficult times, Marcos acknowledged that she, too, was overwhelmed. "It's a little too much," she said. "But there is no extravagance of beauty and love." *^*
Imelda’s Effort to Win Respect for Marcos and Herself
Bruce Wallace wrote in Los Angeles Times, “Imelda Marcos is not just a lady who lunches -- though she does that, too, meeting regularly with her social circle at Manila's finer restaurants and hotels. Despite the ignominious fall from power, she refuses to retreat into seclusion. She ran for president herself, twice, and though she failed, she was elected to Congress in 1995. "The poor people love me," she said one recent evening in the art- and photograph-cluttered living room of her 34th-floor Manila apartment, explaining her enduring appeal. "The poor are looking for a star in the night." [Source: Bruce Wallace, Los Angeles Times, August 19, 2005 /^/]
“For Imelda, only her husband's burial at Libingan will completely rescue the Marcos name. Her apartment is her command center. Surrounded by dazzling pieces of fine art salvaged from her old collection (a Miro, a Warhol) and a piano covered with rows of framed photos from better days, she fights old battles and revisits old victories. Remote control in hand, she fast-forwards through video of her days as first lady of the Philippines, meeting foreign leaders: China's Mao Tse-tung, Cuba's Fidel Castro, Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev and Saddam Hussein. "I was a symbol of my country," she says. "Like a Miss Philippines." /^/
"I never had a mission that failed," she continues, as the images of her foreign trips and meetings with some of the 20th century's greatest rogues blur by. "They always dismissed me as BBD" -- she pauses to see whether a visitor understands the code -- "beautiful but dumb," she exhales, clearing up the mystery. "But these leaders always opened up to me. Mao took my hand in his ... " "Ooh," she squeals, her face contorted in sadness. "If only Bush had sent me to Baghdad, we could have avoided this whole terrible war." She looks as though she is about to cry. /^/
“Every few minutes, she summons an assistant to bring her another box of documents from her court cases, flourishing stacks of paper to proclaim her innocence. Rudy Giuliani, then New York's district attorney, brought racketeering charges against her. Acquitted. Hundreds of corruption charges were filed against her in the Philippines, and there were convictions. None have stood up under appeal. A few cases still remain. Imelda dismisses it all as so much envy. The Marcos money, she says, comes from gold certificates, painstakingly -- and legally -- acquired by her husband over the years. When gold jumped from $35 an ounce to the $800 range in the 1970s, Marcos simply borrowed against it and invested the windfall wisely. "They opened my closet and all they found were shoes," she says of the investigators who hunted for the allegedly stolen billions. "They opened another closet, and all they found were more shoes." She nods her head. Case closed. /^/
"You know, when we were leaving with [the Americans], I confronted him. I said, 'Ferdinand, what happened to us?' " she recalls. "And he said to me, 'Never argue with destiny.' "But it has been 20 years now," she says. "Eventually, the truth will prevail." and his family were "picked up and dumped in Hawaii," as Imelda puts it, by a Washington that cut him loose. /^/
Imelda Launches a Vintage Fashion Line
John M. Glionna wrote in the Los Angeles Times, “There's a lesser-known side of the flamboyant fashion-plate: An haute-couture scavenger who spent nights fashioning outfits with a glue gun and scissors, even stripping the copper wire from telephone lines to get just the right look. The Marcoses are now poised to capitalize on that fashion-meets-function image. Next month, Imelda's daughter Imee Marcos and Imee's two sons will introduce the Imelda Collection: a funky, streetwise line of jewelry, clothing and shoes. They hope the fashion line will attract a younger generation not yet born when Imelda Marcos trod the world stage. [Source: John M. Glionna, Los Angeles Times, November 5, 2006 /+/]
“The vintage line features pink sneakers with diamond-tipped shoelaces, monster-sized brooches, diamond- and pearl-studded earrings, dog-collar chokers and regal Cleopatra bracelets. Imee describes the fashion accessories, which will sell for $30 and up, as "a bit retro, a bit over the top, sort of Madonna meets Elizabeth Taylor." Many of the fashion pieces are right off Imelda's shelves. Others are limited-edition copies that the billionaire heiress will help redesign and colorize, along with her two fashion-model grandsons. /+/
"She's always been practical," Imee, a 50-year-old Philippine congresswoman said of her mother. "When it came to fashion, she recycled. She made outfits from old beads and dismembered earrings. And she customized, cutting sleeves and putting diamonds on shoes. Without even knowing it, she was a fashion brand all to herself." Even then, Imee says, her mother was a closet recycler: Often sitting for several official photo shoots a day, she added scarves and knickknacks to her ensemble so it wouldn't look like she was wearing the same outfit. /+/
“Residents here remain divided over the woman who once inspired the term "Imeldific" to describe any grandiose act done with grace and style. At a private Manila shoe museum where 600 pairs of Imelda's shoes are on display, one visitor said she would never buy a Marcos brand. "I don't patronize that family -- not after what they did to this country," said Bella Gomez as she surveyed racks of Imelda's shoes from some of Europe's top designers, including Givenchy, Bruno Magli and Oleg Cassini. Another shoe museum visitor agreed. "Her taste bleeds money," said Marisa Delfin, 26. "She's not a spokeswoman for the average woman." /+/
But Imelda begs to differ. Sure, there were diamond-encrusted glass slippers and a battery-operated pair of pumps that lighted up for disco dancing. But Imelda said she always chose her shoes for one purpose only. For me, shoes were an accessory to match my outfits," she said. "I always judged a pair not by price or style, but whether they gave me calluses." Her so-called shoe fetish, she insists, has been overblown. "There's more to me than just shoes," she said. "At the time, Filipinos needed a star in the dark of night. They needed a standard. That was my role, to show the way so everyone could become a star. Because mass follows class, never the other way around." /+/
Imee got the idea for the Imelda line after seeing others cash in on her mother's image. But there was another motive: to clean out her mother's closet. For a promotional poster, Imelda even agreed to let grandson Martin "Borgy" Marcos photograph her in a Michael Jordan-inspired pose in blue jeans and sneakers. "Vintage is in, especially the look that my mother created for herself: pink and lettuce-green ribbons, shoes with butterflies, and earrings," Imee said. "Minimalism is so over. My mother is the ultimate maximalist." /+/
Imelda: the Movie
"I am looking like an airhead, like a frivolous, wanton, extravagant woman at the expense of the poor," was one of Imelda Marcos's main objections to Imelda, a documentary about her life by Ramona Diaz. Aida Edemariam wrote in The Guardian, “She went to court to block the film's release, but failed, and it has now been shown in the US, Singapore, and, to packed houses, in the Philippines. The film won a Sundance award, and is probably going to be the Philippines's first submission to the Oscars. [Source: Aida Edemariam, The Guardian, September 29, 2004 ||||]
“She's largely allowed to speak for herself. Imelda began as a village girl who sewed dresses out of parachutes, became a beauty queen with the temerity to challenge the judges when she became runner-up Miss Manila; then, says a relative wryly, Ferdinand Marcos saw her across a crowded room and that "was the beginning of the end". Defending a cultural centre she built to rival the Lincoln Center, she says: "I wasn't interested in superficial things like fixing up housing" - the audience gasps in disbelief - "though we did attend to that later on." Why all those outfits, the infamous 3,000 pairs of shoes, the 40-50 suitcases of Louis Vuitton jewellery? The people "need a role model. They need a star, especially in the dark of the night." And at least what they found in her closets (when the people power uprising forced the Marcoses into exile in 1986) was "shoes, not skeletons". ||||
“Beauty, for Imelda, trumps everything. Of an assassination attempt in which she received 11 slashes from a knife, she says: "If somebody's going to kill me - why such an ugly instrument?" Or: "It's not expensive to be beautiful. It takes a little effort. E for effort." This is juxtaposed with her couturier recalling that he was often given 24 hours to produce a lavishly decorated dress. Then, mildly, he adds: "I can say that many women got blind doing her embroidery." Thousands died, were tortured; billions apparently embezzled; yet she still seems to be received like a rock star wherever she goes. She insists that at 75 she's "at peace with my creator". But in repose her face, its lines blurred with age and makeup, has a great, lost sadness. |After the premiere, a middle-aged woman rushes up to an organiser. She's a campaign co-ordinator for Amnesty International, and was an activist against the Marcoses in the 1970s. Imelda "brings back sad memories because a lot of colleagues were tortured and killed", she says. But, now that she's able to take a longer view, she appreciates that it's a "very human illustration of Imelda. Thank you so much!" “||||
Here Lies Love: the Imelda Marcos Disco-Beat Musical
In 2013, Allan Kozinn wrote in the New York Times, “Probably the first thing you need to know about “Here Lies Love,” the musical conceived by David Byrne and running at the Public Theater is that although it is about Imelda Marcos, the former first lady of the Philippines, her famous collection of shoes is neither mentioned nor shown. That said, shoes are something audience members should consider: the Public’s LuEsther Hall has been transformed into an ’80s-style disco, and the audience is meant to stand, mill around or, if the spirit moves, dance through the entire 85-minute show. [Source: Allan Kozinn, New York Times, April 4, 2013 ~~]
“For Mr. Byrne, disco — both the form and the atmosphere it evokes — is a more vivid symbol of Mrs. Marcos than footwear; her infatuation with that music drew him to her as a potential subject. Having read “The Emperor,” Ryszard Kapuscinski’s biography of Haile Selassie, he became fascinated with autocrats who lived in a kind of surreal, theatrical bubble they create for themselves. “I read that Imelda Marcos loved going to discos and that she had a mirror ball in her New York apartment and turned the roof of the palace in Manila into a disco,” Mr. Byrne said. “Here’s a kind of music that’s hedonistic and transcendent, that transports you to another world, and to me that captures some of what a powerful person is feeling. So it seemed like a natural soundtrack to this particular megalomaniac’s story.” ~~
“The show’s obvious theatrical precedent is “Evita,” the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice musical about Eva Perón, the wife of the Argentine president Juan Perón, though “Here Lies Love” is less a biographical portrait than a beat-filled fantasy built on the events and personalities of the Marcos era. Alex Timbers, the show’s director, describes it as an “unequivocal condemnation” of the Marcos regime: a thuggish pantomime accompanies “Order 1081,” Mr. Byrne’s song about the imposition of martial law in 1972, and the events depicted include the 1983 assassination of the opposition leader Benigno Aquino Jr. His widow, Corazon Aquino, became president of the Philippines, and his son, Benigno Aquino III, is the country’s current leader. ~~
David Byrne—of Talking Heads Fame—and the Making of Here Lies Love
In 2013, Allan Kozinn wrote in the New York Times, ““The show’s title is drawn from Mrs. Marcos’s suggestion for her epitaph. Yet at 83 she remains in politics, now as a congresswoman for the Ilocos Norte Province. Mr. Byrne, best known as the creative force behind Talking Heads and some two dozen solo albums (including soundtracks, dance scores and live sets), always intended “Here Lies Love” for the stage. He spent a year researching the Marcoses, reading articles, watching video and interviewing people who knew and worked with them in New York and Manila. [Source: Allan Kozinn, New York Times, April 4, 2013 ~~]
“But he never wrote a script; although the piece has changed considerably in three years of workshops, there is still no dialogue, apart from brief excerpts from speeches and interviews. Instead, Mr. Byrne wrote 22 songs that advance the narrative the same way a Schubert song cycle would, as much through the music — which begins with a folklike melodic sweetness and grows increasingly beat-driven — as through the lyrics. ~
To get the right club-music feel he enlisted the D.J. Fatboy Slim, who provided Mr. Byrne with beats for his completed compositions and as building blocks for new songs. Without the prospect of a theatrical production, Mr. Byrne recorded the songs in 2010 as a double album, inviting a cast of stars (including Tori Amos, Steve Earle, Kate Pierson and Florence Welch) to perform them. (He sang only one number himself, “American Troglodyte,” a piece of electronica about American culture’s domination of the Philippines, which is now a prologue in the show.) ~
The album, in effect, became the first draft of a show that has turned out strikingly different. On the recording the central relationship is between Imelda and Estrella, the woman who helped raise her (“her best friend, mother and maid, all rolled into one,” Mr. Byrne said) and who, despite promises that she would be looked after, was abandoned by Imelda.
During the workshops Estrella (Melody Butiu) grew less prominent while the roles of Ferdinand (Jose Llana) and Aquino (Conrad Ricamora) became larger. Imelda (Ruthie Ann Miles) was expanded and deepened as well. A D.J. played by Kelvin Moon Loh frames the drama and sings one of its showstoppers, “God Draws Straight,” a haunting acoustic ballad about the day the Marcos regime was toppled. With lyrics based on transcripts of eyewitness accounts, it’s one of eight songs Mr. Byrne has added to the show. History has provided the creative team with a built-in finale, in the form of the “people power” revolution that toppled the Marcoses, as well as the celebration that followed their departure from Manila.
Imelda's Legal Battles
In 1990, Imelda was tried and acquitted of racketeering charges in Manhattan. In 1993, she was convicted of corruption and graft for leasing state property at a price deemed "grossly unfair to the government" and was sentenced to 18 years in prison. She paid a fine and was freed on bail while appeals were made.
In October 1998, Imelda was acquitted of corruption and graft charges. Afterward she said she would share whatever money she recovered from the $540 million in the Swiss bank accounts linked to her and her husband. "I only want what's good for all," she said. "because I always believe that a decisions that is good for all is good for one." She later asked a court to release $150 million to compensate victims of human rights violation during the Marcos years. Imelda later sued the Philippine government for $385 million in damages over allegations that the Marcoses had amassed wealth during her late husband’s rule. She said, “The simple truth is that wealth ascribed to Ferdinand Marcos was lawfully and legitimately acquired b him.”
In 2001, Imelda surrendered to an anti-corruption court after an arrest order was issued on four graft cases, She was fingerprinted and released after posting a bond equal to $2,350 (an amount fixed by law). As of 2001, Imelda still faced over 100 criminal and civil charges in Manila courts. Many had been in the courts for more than a decade, stalled in by technicalities he legal her strategy it seemed was to: 1) wait for public outrage fade; 2) hire the best lawyers; 3) employ every delaying tactic in the book in the hope and get your money when everyone has forgotten about it.
Imelda Marcos Acquitted after 17-Year Trial
In March 2008, the 17-year trial of Imelda Marcos in Manila ended with her acquittal on 32 charges of illegally transferring wealth out of the Philippines. CBC News reported: Marcos and two accomplices had been charged with stashing away $863 million US in Swiss bank accounts. But Judge Silvino Pampilo Jr. of the Manila regional trial court said the prosecution presented witnesses who were not directly relevant to the accounts, and failed to prove wrongdoing by Marcos beyond a reasonable doubt. [Source: CBC News, March 10, 2008 |+|]
“Marcos blamed former Philippines president Corey Aquino for her problems. "I thank the Lord to relieve me again of 32 cases that will subtract from the 901 that were filed by Corazon Aquino against the Marcoses," she told reporters. The case, filed in 1991, has taken years to make its way through the legal system. The money has been frozen by the government and is being held in escrow at the Philippine National Bank. |+|
As of 2008, of the 901 cases filed against her in the early 1990s, just 10 remained, Marcos's lawyers told AFP. "I'm now into the last of 910 cases," Marcos told nearly 1,000 guests, mostly from wealthy families, at her 80th birthday party in 2009. "I can brag this to the whole world and say I have no mission that failed, I have no project that failed, I have no case that will lose," she said, to applause.
The civil and criminal cases Imelda has faced in Philippine courts since 1991 have ranged from embezzlement and corruption to tax evasion. Marcos has emerged relatively unscathed and never served prison time. All but a handful of the cases have been dismissed for lack of evidence, and a few convictions were overturned on appeal.
Ex-Marcos Aide Jailed for Selling a Monet Painting for $32 Million
In 2012, a former secretary to Imelda Marcos was charged New York with conspiracy to sell valuable artworks that disappeared during the collapse of the Marcos regime. Karen Matthews of Associated Press wrote: “Vilma Bautista, 74, was indicted on charges of conspiracy, tax fraud and offering a false instrument for filing. Two of her nephews were also were charged. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said Bautista used false paperwork to sell a work from Claude Monet's "Water Lilies" series for $32 million in September 2010. Her attorney, Fran Hoffinger, said Bautista got caught in a civil dispute between the Marcoses and the Philippine government. "It's a civil dispute," Hoffinger said. "It doesn't belong in criminal court." [Source: Karen Matthews, Associated Press, November 20, 2012]
“The indictment says that during the presidency of her husband, Ferdinand, Imelda Marcos used state assets to acquire a vast collection of artwork and other valuables. Prosecutors say some of the art ended up in Bautista's possession after the Marcoses were ousted in a citizen revolt in 1986. According to the indictment, the most valuable work was the 1899 Monet painting that was sold, "Japanese Footbridge Over the Water-Lily Pond at Giverny." There was also another Monet and Alfred Sisley's "Langland Bay" from 1887. Prosecutors said Bautista and her nephews plotted to sell the paintings and keep the proceeds tax-free. Bautista pleaded not guilty. Bail was set at $175,000. “ [Ibid]
In January 2014, Bautista was sentenced to six years in New York prison. Victoria Cavaliere of Reuters wrote: Bautista, “was convicted in November of conspiracy and tax fraud charges related to the sale or attempted sale of four museum-quality paintings acquired by Marcos. A New York state judge sentenced Bautista to between two and six years in prison for the count of tax fraud and between one and three years for the conspiracy charge. Bautista, who had faced up to 25 years in prison, was also ordered to pay $3.5 million in restitution to the state of New York. Bautista was charged in the state because she lives in New York City. [Source: Victoria Cavaliere, Reuters, January 13, 2014 *~*]
“Prosecutors said Bautista secretly held on to the artwork for more than two decades until 2010, when she sold Monet's "Le Bassin aux Nympheas," part of his famed series of water-lily paintings, to a London gallery for $32 million. She was also accused of secretly keeping and attempting to sell Monet's "L'Eglise et La Seine a Vetheuil," Alfred Sisley's "Langland Bay" and Albert Marquet's "Le Cypres de Djenan Sidi Said," with help from her two nephews. *~*
“During her month-long trial last year, prosecutors said Bautista knew the art was stolen from a Manhattan townhouse that was once used by Imelda and Ferdinand Marcos. They argued she hid the multimillion-dollar pieces until she tried to sell them for personal gain, keeping the money tax-free. Bautista's lawyers argued that she had been given permission to sell the artwork and had intended to return the money to the Philippine government, but it was seized by the Manhattan district attorney's office before she could do so. One of Bautista's attorneys on Monday told Reuters Television that she planned to appeal the conviction. Bautista was released on $275,000 bail pending her appeal. *~*
“Bautista was a member of the Philippine foreign service and was a close confidante to the former Philippine first lady, serving as her unofficial New York-based personal secretary while assigned to the Philippine mission to the United Nations from the early 1970s through 1986, prosecutors said.” *~*
Political Careers of Imelda and Her Children
In May 1995, Imelda Marcos won a set in the lower house of the Philippine legislature, representing her home province of Leyte in central Philippines. A Supreme Court decision allowed her to take her seat in Congress. The court voted 8-5 in her favor after the Election Commission denied her the seat on a technicality. Leyte had fared well under her husband's rule, with generous government spending on roads, schools and power plants. Imelda served in Congress in Leyte from 1995 to 1998.
Imelda twice ran for president twice and lost by huge margins. She fared poorly when she contested the presidency in 1992, when former general Fidel Ramos won.She entered the presidential election in 1998, drew only a handful of supporters, and then withdrew. She 'gave' the votes she garnered to the winner, Joseph Estrada, who in June 1998 asked the courts to give Imelda a presidential pardon; later that year the Supreme Court acquitted Marcos of corruption charges.
Imelda’s son Ferdinand “Bong Bong” Marcos lost badly in his bid for a Senate seat in 1995 at the age of 38, partly because Corazon Aquino led a campaign against him called Never Again. He ran for governor in northern Ilocos Norte Province in 1998 and won. Maria Imelda "Imee" Marcos, daughter of Ferdinand and Imleda, won a congressional seat in the 1998 election. She has been very outspoken and regarded as a skillful politician. In the early 2000s, she was a vocal critic of U.S. President George Bush. She caused a big scandal when her father was president by running off with professional golfer Tommy Manotoc.
Imelda and her children family has used their old political strongholds in the far north and central islands to claw its way back to political influence. In 2010, Imelda was asked why she was running again for political office—this time for a congressional set in Ilocos Norte province, her husband’s old constituency, she replied, "I am campaigning to be a mother who not only serves but also loves.” [Source: Blaine Harden, Washington Post, April 22, 2010]
During the campaign season for the 2010 election Associated Press and The Guardian reported: “Imelda Marcos, former first lady of the Philippines, has begun a campaign for a congressional seat that she hopes will allow her to bury her husband in a heroes' cemetery and clear his sullied name. Emerging from more than a decade of political obscurity, Marcos strode back with a vengeance. She led journalists at daybreak to the mausoleum of her husband, Ferdinand Marcos,in Ilocos Norte province, his northern stronghold. Kissing his glass coffin, she said: "This is one of our major injustices." She then went to church and rode on a lorry festooned with balloons and posters as thousands cheered her along the way. She was flanked by her daughter Imee, who is running for governor in Ilocos Norte, a tobacco-growing region about 250 miles (400km) north of Manila. Imelda's son, Ferdinand Marcos Jr, is seeking a senate seat. [Source: Associated Press, Guardian, March 26, 2010]
Marcos said she will continue her campaign to have her husband buried in the national heroes' cemetery in Manila if she wins. His burial there has been opposed by officials amid public outrage after Marcos – accused of corruption, political repression and widespread human rights abuses – was ousted in a 1986 revolt and died in exile in Hawaii three years later. Imelda said: "My ambition is to serve without end and to love without end."
Marcos Family Wins Big in 2010 Elections
In May 2010, Imelda won a seat in the House of Representatives in province of Ilocos Norte, her husband’s old stomping ground, in the same election in Corazon Aquino’s son Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III was elected president. reported: “It's a fresh taste of power for the former first lady, 80, Marcos won a seat representing the province of Ilocos Norte in the 269-member House of Representatives with 109,571 votes. Mariano Nalupta, a former ally, took to 27,359 votes. [Source: Agence France-Presse, May 11, 2010 ***]
“Imelda’s eldest child Imee, 56, won as provincial governor with 196,160 votes. Her only son Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., 52, appeared headed for the 24-seat Senate, placing seventh in the race for 12 vacant seats, according to partial official returns of Monday's national elections. The clan has won various positions since the 1990s after returning from exile but the Marcos heirs have never before managed a position as high as the nationally-elected senate. ***
“Imelda pointed to her experience as a key member of her husband's government, both as housing minister and governor of the Manila capital region, as proof she was worthy of public office. And age was no issue, she insisted. "It is true that I am 80 years old, but I can also be a grandmother for our country." Emmanuel Amistad, executive director of human rights group Task Force Detainees, said the victory showed how quickly Filipinos forget their past. "Filipinos have a short memory and they have forgotten the abuses of the father. There is an entirely new generation now and a lot of the youth do not know the experiences of martial law," he said. ***
“Rommel Banlaoi, director of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research, said the political revival of the Marcos family was just another symptom of the country's personality-oriented politics. "In the Philippines, we vote in terms of personality, not in terms of track records. The Marcoses ring a very loud bell in politics," he told AFP.” ***
At 85 Imelda and Her Son Plot to Reclaim the Philippine Presidency
In July 2014, Teodoro Aljibe of AFP wrote: “Imelda Marcos, the Philippines' most famous political survivor, toasted her 85th birthday as the former first lady made plans for a triumphal return to the presidential palace. Wearing a flowing red gown and diamond rings, the self-declared "poverty-stricken" Marcos was serenaded by throngs of supporters as she emerged from her private chambers in the family mansion in their northern stronghold of Batac. "My only wish is for God to give me a little more strength to prolong my life," Marcos told reporters who asked about her birthday wish. She said she had seen "the best, best, best and the worst, worst worst" in life, but insisted she has no plans to ride into the sunset just yet. "I still have a vision and hope to bring more help to the Filipino people," she said in a free-wheeling, often rambling, interview. [Source: Teodoro Aljibe, AFP July 3, 2014]
Imelda Marcos won a second term as congresswoman representing Ilocos Norte in 2013, the same year her son was elected senator. He has hinted at joining the presidential race in 2016. Her eldest daughter, Imee, is the provincial governor. “She insisted that Ferdinand Marcos Junior, her senator son and namesake of her late husband, was "qualified" to contest the presidency in May 2016 when incumbent Benigno Aquino, son of the Marcoses' top political foes, ends his six-year term. "(Returning to) Malacanang would be a great help," in implementing her projects, said Marcos, referring to the presidential palace.
Earlier a regal but tired-looking Imelda dramatically planted a kiss on her husband's glass coffin as photographers jostled for position. The dictator's wax-like remains are kept in an airconditioned crypt at the family compound which has become a macabre tourist attraction. Declaring herself the "mother of world peace", Imelda then hit out at plans by the Aquino government to auction off her jewellery collection. She accused Aquino's mother, the late democracy hero Corazon Aquino who was installed as president after the Marcos family fled, of persecution. "Her first act was to confiscate and sequester all Marcos wealth even before we were tried, and that was illegal," Marcos said. She said she would prefer to have the jewels put on public display "because I want the Filipinos to know what is world-class and see that". Marcos did not discuss her fragile health. She was rushed to hospital last year for extreme fatigue but later recovered.
Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Philippines Department of Tourism, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.
© 2008 Jeffrey Hays
Last updated June 2015