Where are they now? Imelda Marcos

Famed for her shoe collection, and once the Philippines' most powerful woman when Ferdinand Marcos was dictator. But, where is she now?

Descended from Don Francisco Lopez, a Spaniard from Grenada whose family became wealthy landowners in Talosa on Leyte south of Manila, Imelda Marcos was raised in a legal branch of the clan.  Her father was a law professor and uncle a chief justice.  Imelda was born in 1929, growing up in Manila in the smart district of San Miguel, close to the presidential MalacaƱang Palace - her grandfather once owned the gardens nearby - and next to San Miguel Pro-Cathedral.  

She was educated at a private Roman Catholic co-ed school in Manila and graduated with a degree in education from St. Paul's College in Tacloban, 580 km south of the capital.  

Beauty and Marriage

Imelda was crowned a beauty queen the age of 18 as "Rose of Tacloban", later becoming "Miss Leyte" and then "Miss Philippines".  Owing to her vocal attributes she took singing lessons.  She was later photographed for magazine covers, enhancing her notoriety as "Muse of Manila", a term coined by the mayor at that time.  In 1953 then congressman Ferdinand Marcos spotted and briefly courted her, and they married shortly afterwards.


Imelda maintained her profile, consistently being photographed for magazine covers, as she traversed the country to engage in the political scene and get to know as many politicians as she could.  Ferdinand was elected the 10th President of the Philippines in 1965, taking office a few months later, with Imelda becoming First Lady.  In 1972 Ferdinand declared martial law, which remained in force for nine long years.  He continued to rule as dictator until his removal from office in the 1986 People Power Revolution which swept Corazon Aquino to power as the 11th President. 

Corazon Aquino was the mother of the 15th and current Filipino President, the reformist Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III.


Imelda, together with he husband fled via Guam into exile, holing up in Hawaii.  According to Time in 1987 Imelda's vast, extravagent wardobe in the presidential palace contained "15 mink coats ... 508 floor-length gowns, 888 handbags and 71 pairs of sunglasses and 1,060 pairs" of shoes, somewhat "less than the 3,000 originally reported".

Ferdinand Marcos died abroad on September 28, 1989

Charges and Investigations

In 1990, Imelda stood trial in the US on charges of fraud and racketeering in a celebrated case, but was acquitted.  

Presidential Ambition

In 1991 she was allowed to return home to the Philippines and decided to stand for the presidency.  At the 1992 election she trailed in fifth place in a 7-way race.  So, in 1995 Imelda tried her chances at entering Congress, overwhelming her opponent, the incumbent Representative for Leyte (after all this was her home turf).  

Three years later in 1998 she thought she'd have another bash at the presidency, later dropping out in favour of her friend and ally, Joseph Estrada, who was duly elected the 13th President.  Lucky for her, as during his term many of the charges and investigations filed against Imelda during the Corazon Aquino administration were dropped.

Those Shoes

The BBC reported in 2001 that Imelda had opened a shoe museum.  "The world's best-known shoe collector, former Philippine First Lady Imelda Marcos, has opened a museum in which most of the exhibits are her own footwear.  The Marikina City Footwear Museum in Manila contains hundreds of pairs of shoes, many of them found in the presidential palace" when she and Ferdinand fled in 1986.

Origins of her Fortune

On the alleged amassed fortune being hunted down by the incoming Aquino administration, Wikipedia notes, "in February 2006, (Imelda) Marcos insisted that her husband had acquired his wealth legitimately as a gold trader. By the late 1950s, she claimed, he had amassed a personal fortune of 7,500 tons of gold, and after gold prices climbed in the 1970s, the Marcos family was worth about US$35bn.  However, the (Philippines) Bureau of Internal Revenue has no record of the Marcos family declaring or paying taxes on these assets, and the source of their wealth remains open to investigation."  Imelda later claimed the fortune stemmed from 'Yamashita's gold', recovered Japanese war loot hidden in Philippines caves, according to AP.

According to Wikipedia, the UK Press Association reported in 2008 that Imelda had been aquitted in the Philippines of thirty two "dollar-salting" charges relating to the misappropriation of the equivalent of some 430 million pounds into Swiss bank accounts.

More Political Influence

In 2010 Imelda once again bid for a congressional place, and was elected (replacing her son who was running for a Senate seat) as Representative for the second district of Ilocos Norte in Luzon.  

Guilty as Charged

The Washington Post, reported in April 2010 that a Philippine court had ordered Imelda Marcos to return 12 million pesos (or US$280,000) seized from a food agency three decades earlier.  A figure unlikely to put too deep a dent in her savings, I suspect.

Continued Notoriety

Imelda returned to the international limelight just the other day, when the Telegraph showed a photograph of her standing looking shocked and apalled at a piece of art by contemporary Filipino artist Mideo Cruz, at Manila's Cultural Center.  The paper said that, as a patron of the arts, Imelda Marcos had "denounced an art installation that combines religious symbols with phallic objects" and along with the Catholic Church had engaged in a "heated debate about freedom of expression".

Imelda Marcos was 82 on July 2nd, 2011.

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