When Imelda Romualdez was named runner-up as "Miss Manila," she immediately visited the mayor of the capital to complain.
The judges' decision was overturned immediately.
Moving into beautiful quarters, the young couple's life seemed idyllic, but soon Imelda
became aware of her
young husband's overnight flings with other women.With his
philandering and insistence that she
weight, the young bride was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
greeted supporters, presided over dinners, addressed crowds and, even more pleasing, sang at the rallies.Before her
, presidential wives had stayed at home, raised the children, and never meddled in campaigning.But Imelda
would go out to the countryside, dressed to the hilt, but willing to put on rubber boots and get down in the muddy rice paddies with the farmers.She
instinctively knew that the "little people," as she
calls them, wanted to see her
own childhood wasn't that different from theirs, so she
came to see herself as a symbol of beautiful possibilities.
At this point in the documentary, Imelda's
well-powdered mask slips and we see her
falter in trying to defend her
husband's declaration of martial law as based on his
democratic commitment.As under all dictatorships words lose their meaning, as "war" becomes "peace" and "oppression" becomes "democracy."The first linguistic victims are surely those who utter lies as "truth."They probably forget what their own words are really covering up.Thus, the spirit of fascism lived on in the Marcos regime.
Even though Imelda
benefited, the cracks were beginning to appear in the beautiful marble statue.During one of her speeches for Marcos, Imelda
was nearly killed by a bolo-wielding assassin.
says today that she
decided "the Lord saved her
life because she
was generous in giving and serving."If that was so, she
decided to be selfless and "give it all" (just not away).Instead she
would spend government money on her
numerous projects.While working as Minister of Human Settlement and Governor of Metropolitan Manila, she simultaneously constructed many needed (or frivolous) facilities and amassed a treasure of jewels, clothing, and property.She
eventually controlled 15% of the national budget.Some critics, when confronted with the long list of buildings and projects she
made possible, point out that very few of them were for the poor.They either didn't or couldn't afford to enter.However, Imelda
was powerful enough to stand up to the entrenched Catholic Church and support birth control with condoms and reproductive education.
Throughout the film Imelda
ideals of beauty.She
believes that it takes effort, not money, to be beautiful and to be surrounded by beautiful things.Yet, her
couturier confesses that some of the women working for him went blind while embroidering the beautiful clothes that Imelda
wore.At what price for the country were her
ideals of beauty upheld?She
honestly believes that poor people felt better when seeing her
live well.As she
says, "I seem to be able to see only the positive things, the beautiful things in life.When I see garbage or ugliness, I turn my back or seem to be able to skip it."So that is how she
must have withstood her
husband's bloody actions.She
just didn't look, like any good Mafioso's wife.
Anyone speaking out against Marcos or Imelda
was considered subversive.
Placing jewels in her
grandchildren's extra diapers, Imelda
fled along with the family.It was after their escape that the "little people" rushed into the presidential palace to find, much like the October revolutionaries in czarist Russia, opulence beyond their wildest dreams.Thousands of pairs of shoes, numerous paintings, fine jewels, money, antique furniture, and rooms of clothing testified to the immense graft.Imelda
disingenuously says, "When they went to my closets, they found shoes, not skeletons."Well, not quite.
has certainly continued to live quite well with apartments in New York City (they owned a number of buildings) and elsewhere, Imelda
has lost the power she
Finally getting her
wish to be an actress, Imelda
has had ample opportunity to cry and faint in various court appearances. Even though Ferdinand's body couldn't return to the Philippines, Imelda boldly (shamelessly?) returned to her homeland to run for President in 1992.
...As two of her three children successfully get elected to political offices (governor and congresswoman), Imelda sits watching an interview with them and lets us know when the part about "Mommy" is coming up.
The mind boggles.
But after watching all the footage of the film, interviews with Imelda
, friends, and opponents; historical footage of American colonialism, Japanese occupation, and independence; newsreels of demonstrations, political rallies, public works inaugurations; and Marcos home movies and photographs, one is left with a much clearer picture of a very amazing but disturbing/disturbed person.She's
not worried what we think: "My life has been complicated by everyone.