When the beauty queen who plundered the Philippines returns | Imelda Marcos Ferdinand Marcos Philippines | First Lady

3000 pairs of shoes, 888 handbags, 508 gowns…the number of items in the wardrobe of Imelda Marcos, who lived the most controversial luxury life in the history of Asia, would have been long. Imelda, the wife and beauty queen of Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr., was ousted from power in 1986 when the Marcos era ended in a popular uprising. Long periods of exile followed. Now, at the age of 93, he is back at the helm of the Philippines. But this time, not as the first lady, but as the first lady. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. or Bongbong Marcos, the son of Ferdinand Marcos and Imelda, is the new president of the Philippines.

‘The man who smuggled the most money out of a single country’ – the Guinness Book of Records gave Marcos the title. Evidence of Marcos’ misrule lies in that epithet. History tells us that Marcos looted money worth around Rs 16,000 crore at that time. He and his family used this money to live in luxury and buy properties in Manhattan, New York. His wife Imelda was considered to be the mastermind behind Marcos’ reign of terror. Marcos became president of the Philippines in 1965 through an election that was marred by widespread corruption and attacks. Later he followed the same style in administration. Imelda is also known as Marie Antoinette in modern times.

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Ferdinand Marcos and his wife Imelda after winning the 1986 presidential election. Image: AFP

Imelda was born as Imelda Remedios Romvaldis. In a family with money and political influence. But when Imelda was in school, things changed. The family started facing poverty. Imelda was regularly scolded by her teachers for paying school fees late.

After studying, Imelda started working as a bank clerk and participated in the 1953 Miss Manila beauty pageant and was selected as the beauty queen. Imelda met Marcos in 1954. Marcos was then married to a woman named Carmen Ortega. He had three children. Imelda soon fell in love with Marcos. Marriage after just 11 days of love. Imelda and her speech were the main attractions of Marcos’ presidential campaign in 1965. The beautiful Imelda was considered a role model by middle-class women in the Philippines.

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Ferdinand Marcos and Imelda (File photo: AFP)

But the post-Marcos presidency has been a time of corruption and extravagance in the Philippines. Imelda was a leader not only in acquiring ill-gotten wealth, but also in spending it unscathed. At that time, she reached positions of power as a minister and governor of Manila in the Marcos government.

Imelda splashed out on expensive crafts, paintings, clothes and anything else that caught her fancy. They also made jewelery using a rare 25 carat diamond found in Telangana in the 18th century. The jewel was auctioned by the Philippine government in 2015 for Rs 3.25 crore.

Imelda once turned back a long-haul flight leaving Rome saying she forgot to buy cheese. They did not fear the courts or the people at that time.

Many cases were filed against Imelda Marcos. Many times the property was confiscated or frozen. But still they are reported to have assets worth US$ 22 million. Imelda once said about this that she herself did not know how much she owned.

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Ferdinand Marcos Jr with a picture of his father (File photo: ROMEO GACAD / AFP)

After losing power, Marcos fled the country with his family. It was only after Marcos’ death in 1989 that the then Philippine president allowed the family to return. There was a demand for trial in the cases in their name. But Marcos Jr. got into politics and grew step by step. Finally, the Philippines won the presidential election. He assumed power on June 30, 2022. Political observers are curious to see how Marcus’s administration will look when his son succeeds him. There are many curious eyes when Imelda arrives to the position of First Lady as the First Mother.

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