When I think of Imelda Marcos, I think about the millions of jokes centered around her love of shoes (owning more than 3000 pairs). However, behind every joke is a reality and pain that most are not aware of or care about. Becoming an 8 year-old orphan coupled with a fluke meeting after being crowned Miss Phillippines, Imelda’s life would take a turn changing the trajectory of her life forever. Eleven days after meeting Ferdinand Marcos, Imelda would marry him and their union sizzled style with a capital ‘S!’ The Marcos family would go on to live an island paradise existence likened to Kennedy’s Camelot for nearly 35 years.
Known for her drop dead gorgeous looks and puffy sleeves, Imelda continues to be treated with the reverence of royalty. But, like most women thrust from anonymity of life into politics, the lifestyle took a toll on her mental wellness nearly causing a breakdown. Yet, she soldiered on becoming a surrogate leader for Philippines meeting with such dignitaries as U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, Fidel Castro, Prince Charles, Henry Kissinger and Saddam Hussein to name a few.
Of course, this fairytale marriage was not without their flaws. Marcos would be tied with an American Dovie Beams resulting in first inkling of controversy for the couple. They lived like Kings and Queens buying architecture, jewelry and shipping animals from Africa. In an effort appease Imelda’s desire to have a ‘wild kingdom,’ 254 families were evicted from Calauit to make room for her ‘safari park,’ which is now non-existent with diseased animals eating crops and roaming freely.
However, that little act of indiscretion was just the beginning of their troubles. During their tenure, five to ten billion dollars of country’s wealth was squandered in 1976. The extravagance of love would ultimately become their undoing. With a dynasty shrouded in jealousy, scandal, murder, opulence, campaign of Cory Aquino, voter fraud and merciless torture, the Marcos family would find themselves ousted from their beloved Philippines and exiled to Hawaii. Reviled by their homeland and having legacy marred by marital law, corruption, lawsuits and criminal dictatorship, their fairytale existence came crashing down around their ears. How do you recover from incarcerating 70,000 people, torturing 35,000 and killing 3,200 citizens? Of course, you run for office to regain your political glory days.
Desiring to perpetuate a political dynasty, Imelda ran for Congress and won. Her son Bong Bong, who was then a Senator, launched a campaign to run for Vice-President of the Phillippines and loses by nearly 223,000 votes to Leni Robredo While Rodrigo Duterte wins the presidency in a landslide.
Directed by Emmy winner Lauren Greenfield, The Kingmaker is an excellent example of how the perception of history can be twisted and manipulated to serve the purpose of those who have little to no interest in painting the truth. For it is destiny, if one doesn’t acknowledge the sins and mistakes of the past, we are surely doomed to repeat them. Not one content with losing, Bong Bong contested Robredo’s election with the Supreme Court. Under pressure from President Duterte, the Supreme Court’s Chief Justice was removed and replaced with a pro-Marcos justice. It is alleged Duterte’s campaign was financially supported by Marcos. With Duterte’s support, Imee Marcos won a Senate seat after her term ended as governor. Imee’s son was elected to her governor’s seat preserving the Marcoses’ political power in the North. Sound familiar ?
It is absolutely mind boggling how self-entered entitled political figures with money and power continue to navigate and trample over democracy and laws? How do you bury a leader reviled by its country on sacred ground reserved for heroes? How do you turn a blind eye to senseless murders? How do you blatantly disrespect your VP because she is a woman and is viewed as too weak to run a country? Here in America, we know it all too well. We witness it every day with our current administration. Will the world ever see a democracy that respects the law and desires of its citizens? Maybe not…but we can certainly hope.
Imelda Marcos in one moment comes off as a widow, mother, politician who has undying love for her country and next moment seems like a shrewd business woman aka ‘Mafia Matriarch’ who will get her end results by any means necessary. This compelling, blood boiling doc hits Showtime on November 8th and is a definite must see for anyone who respects and reveres the right to choose.