SEQUEL TO UNTOLD STORY Marcos was the corrupting influence in her life Base on interviews with CARMEN NAVARRO PEDROSA

01:06 PM February 24, 2011


You could say I have been an Imelda watcher since I began work on her lifestory in 1967. The Untold Story of Imelda Marcos portrays a sympathetic picture of her. It was essentially a Cinderella story showing Imelda’s background of want and deprivation as a child, which explains her extravagance and flair for wealth, her compulsive need to compensate for her past once she reached the peak of her ambitions.


The sequel I have written will still be the Imelda story, but updated to focus on her as a conjugal partner in the Marcos dictatorship. Now with publishing agents in America, the second Imelda book will be less sympathetic, retold in the light of recent events, including the declaration of martial law, the assassination of Ninoy, the departure of the Marcoses, and the take-over of Cory Aquino.



Absent in the first Imelda book is the Marcos factor. The sequel will show the great influence Marcos had in the direction Imelda’s life took. Imelda is a creature created by her husband. Marcos had everything to do with that image, that she was aristocratic, glamorous, talented, cultured and fabulously wealthy. When I worked on the Untold Story, this all came together — how Marcos and Imelda fitted each other like a jigsaw puzzle. They were opposites that perfectly complemented each other, filling the yawning insecurities of their past.

Marcos is such an influence in Imelda’s life. Of course, if someone tries to corrupt you, you try to fight so you don’t get corrupted. But Imelda is so weak, so naive, easily manipulated by those around her. Marcos is the interesting, intriguing personality to analyze. He holds an important key to Imelda’s personality. Marcos’ drive and ambition have a long history long before Imelda’s. On the other hand, Imelda, after her marriage to Marcos, did not develop into the charismatic political power figure that she is now until Marcos put her in that direction.

Marcos has an inferiority complex that is so deep, a yawning emptiness. A man who will be driven to kill in order to survive. That is a very deep insecurity. He said to Joe Guevara: “I will be president yet one day because I have to make up for the past. They think I cannot be president anymore just because I have been charged with killing man?” Marcos is a man who thinks he can make up for his guilt by becoming president and power will erase that guilt.

Any analysis of Imelda’s personality now will be tied up closely with Marcos.


When I read about the 3,000 pairs of shoes that Ms. Marcos left behind, I was reminded of an anecdote in my book about a servant, Siloy, who took pity on the young Imelda and bought her a new pair of shoes because her shoes were all worn out. She suffered the painful humiliation of having no shoes so now she must compensate and surround herself with thousands. It is the same with houses. As a young girl her family lived in a garage and had to move from one shabby house to another, including a quonset hut with primitive toilet and plumbing. This early deprivation explains why the accumulation of houses and real estate would have tremendous appeal for her.



The key to Imelda’s aberrations, I think, lies in the first ten years of her life lived in extreme poverty. She had an unhappy mother who was married for nine years and all those years were nothing but a miserable existence which ended with her living in a garage, giving birth to more children and dying of a broken heart. She had six children. Imelda and Kokoy were born in the main house but the four younger children were born in the garage while their mother was sleeping on boxes, crying herself to sleep at night. All these must have contributed to a traumatized childhood. When her mother died, Imelda had to live with her stepbrothers and stepsisters, and all the memories of that unhappy past had to be blurred away, and she could not put her past rancor into context, or come to terms with the explanation for her discontent. That’s why we see a woman who is divided within herself. Her rejection of her past, her failure in moral judgment and in having the kind of perspective which allows her to say no when it is wrong, and say yes when it is right, all indicate how she has no integration of the inner core.


Ninoy Aquino compared Imelda to Evita Peron, the way both women rose from poverty, deprivation and anonymity, to fortune, wealth, and fame. Imelda’s life was close to Evita’s and she studied closely the life of the charismatic Argentinian woman whose fame overshadowed hers. But the mistake in comparing Imelda to Evita is that Evita had political power of her own, she had her own loyal following, even long after her death, while Imelda has none and her power exists solely on her husband’s capacity to stay in power.


There is a history of breakdowns in her family. Her mother had one, also an aunt and a sister. Ms. Marcos herself in the early part of her marriage suffered a nervous breakdown while struggling to become a perfect politician’s wife, and she was sent to the States to recuperate.

Recently, after Marcos was ousted, the indications are there that Imelda may be heading for another nervous breakdown. I’ve heard stories about how she was singing all the way through their flight out of the country and how she had been calling up friends, telling them about how she’s going to go shopping in Paris. These attempts at make believe. . . are signs of a mind slowly becoming unhinged..


What is true of any personality, hers is terribly complex. In terms of psychology, it is very difficult to judge her. Here is a case of a victim — her sad, deprived childhood — rising to power and becoming the offender, driven by the ambitions of a husband who has used her for his own selfish interests. But because she has sought to be a public figure, she will be judged according to her actions, her public role.

In terms of her public role, she was incapable of handling power — overspending, extravagance and flair for showy, empty projects, mismanagement of resources, the whole idea of projecting herself rather than the substance, glamor for herself above all considerations, priorities askew, etc. The sad part about this is she is a very ignorant woman holding unlimited power. The combination of ignorance and power in anyone is dangerous, and this was true of Imelda; she was definitely damaging to the Philippines.

She is also very naive; her process of learning is all wrong. She absorbs but doesn’t digest or integrate and grasp the essence of things. She throws them all out without processing, analysis or judgment. That’s why people are confused by her, there is a lot of mental garbage, and her message is very often garbled.


Now that she’s out, I’m not looking at her anymore as a public figure, but as a private person. I feel disgust for the public figure, but for the private person who underwent a traumatic childhood, I tend to have mixed feelings. I still think it was Marcos who was the corrupting influence in her life, the instrument of evil that put her in the direction of greed, lust for wealth and unlimited power that brought about their destruction.

I cannot forget that Imelda began as an ordinary housewife. Before she married Marcos, she was an innocent, sweet, naive provincial girl with a very great compulsion to be accepted and to succeed, to shine like a star. In fact, very early, she went through a nervous breakdown just trying to be the kind of woman Marcos expected her to be. Marcos created her from her own personal inadequacies. He needed to be assured he married into the aristocracy, using the Romualdez name, so he made her live up to that image, and in doing that, he managed to obliterate her past. Imelda is a Marcos clone — and a runaway clone.

I’ve always believed Imelda was the junior partner in that conjugal dictatorship. I tend to believe her statement that her stay in government will be coterminus with her husband, and that she’s more likely to just spend the rest of her life enjoying her wealth. Imelda’s trip is not power, but wealth. Power, absolute power was Marcos’ trip.

One of my favorite quotes about Imelda is from Claudio Bravo, the painter who did her portrait depicting her as a young maiden in a shimmery gown holding an umbrella and walking as it she were floating on air. Bravo said, “She’s very, very feminine, but the more you look, the more you begin to be struck by the shoulders — they look like a man’s.” That’s what I’ve been trying to say about Imelda — she is a creature of illusion.


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