Thea Alberto-Masakayan, Yahoo! Southeast Asia
For her 82nd birthday, Imelda Marcos grants an exclusive interview with Yahoo! Southeast Asia. In this two-part feature and video series, the style and beauty icon talks about getting old, her infamous shoe collection, and why she’s still a hit after all these years.
Clad in a ruby Filipiniana, Philippine history’s most popular First Lady welcomed me in her old home in San Juan for an interview about her upcoming birthday.
She later leads me to a seat in their old abode, which, though dusty, still radiates the lavishness that the Marcoses are known for. Their huge painted portraits hung on cemented walls while their photos with the world’s famous sat on top of an old piano. A gold Ferdinand Marcos statue was the centerpiece of the grand structure.
She allowed me to examine remnants of their 20-year power—news clippings, ancient tapes of Marcos press conferences, even fading personal letters from their world counterparts. She then left me for a while, and returned with fresh make-up and an unforgettable floral scent.
As expected, Imelda Marcos¸ now already 82, is still a sight to behold—her signature hairstyle perfectly done, her skin still radiant despite the age.
“I’m allergic to pangit (the ugly),” Imelda said, so she makes sure she’s glamorous all the time.
She was later humming, to my surprise, the legendary ‘Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree.’
“It’s originally our song,” the lady said.
Apparently, years had not taken her wit away.
Of wishes and shoes
Imelda turns 82 on July 2, and she wishes “justice for human beings” and justice for her family, as she lamented media’s “great injustice” to the Marcoses.
“The media is so powerful that it can even destroy you beyond death and beyond life. The gun can kill you only up to the grave but the media can kill you beyond the grave and to infinity,” Marcos said.
Now, she also wants the government to have “true democracy and true justice for each citizen.”
To this day, Marcos swears there were no human rights violations when she and husband Ferdinand were at the helm of Malacanang. They were merely victims of a biased media, said Imelda.
Marcos said she experienced the best and worst of everything, but she got her best birthday gift on her 60th, when she won the “case of the century”—an overwhelming 901 charges filed against her and her family while they were in exile in Hawaii, following the 1986 People Power Revolution.
“That was a great phase of my life. Even if you are completely penniless and countryless, if you are at peace with the truth, you are at peace with God,” she said.
Today, Marcos keeps all 901 folders in a hall inside their San Juan house, along with boxes and boxes of jewelry that evaded sequestration.
Her infamous shoes are nowhere to be found though, as they are all in a shoe museum in MarikinaCity.
“They said I had thousands of shoes, which was not true. It was a lie in the end because when Malacanang gave it to the Marikina museum it was even less than 200,” she said.
“When I was First Lady I was hardly using shoes, only on special occasions or foreign visits, I would wear shoes. I was a working First Lady, I had espadrilles,” she added.
She’s known for her penchant for shoes but she reveals: “I don’t even wear shoes anymore. In fact when I met Marcos I was in slippers,” said Imelda, whose shoe size is 8.
But if she would have it her way now, she would gladly get more pairs.
“At this point in time of my life, I think I deserve more shoes than what was lied to the world,” said Marcos in jest.
“I feel that I deserve more shoes because I’m more ‘well-heeled’ now to the good, the true and the beautiful,” she added.
Beauty and wealth
Did you know that her iconic hairstyle takes about 20 minutes to fix?
“My hair is up to my knees. You have to struggle more to look presentable,” she said.
But while it takes her an hour to dress up when meeting a King or a VIP, it would take two hours when she is to go to the slums.
“They need a star to light up the night,” she said.
“I was both a star to light the dark of the night and at the same time give standard to all. And at the same time a slave, to enslave myself so that everybody becomes a star,” Marcos explained.
Though stripped of the privileges she used to have as First Lady, Imelda said she still knows how to look her best, sans the designer tag.
She boasts of being a Divisoria expert, a far scene from her extravagant ways during the Martial Law era.
“I had complete deprivation of my worldly and country assets. [After EDSA] we didn’t even know where to get our next meal. We were snatched out of the country and we didn’t know we were going abroad…but that was a great phase in my life,” noted Imelda.