Thursday, 8 March 2012

Five things i learned from Carlos Celdran's Livin' La Vida Imelda

Poster of Livin' La Vida Imelda
Carlos Celdran who introduces himself in his blog as just a regular fellow trying to change the way you see the city of Manila one step at a time has finally put his "Imelda Tour' on stage called  'Livin La Vida Imelda.'

The show is based on the life of Imelda from birth and her role as First Lady, the wife of then President Ferdinand Marcos. I remember growing up during this period, specifically under Martial Law with curfew and checkpoints, the New Society march still ringing in my ears, and seeing her much publicized lavish events in the hurriedly-built edifices at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) complex.

Celdran said that his tale is based on research, fact, fiction and even gossip.  Here's five things I missed  from the rumor mill (or fact?)  and learned from his 3-hour performance:

Carlos Celdran
1.  In 1953, Marcos (b.1917) was a second term congressman from Ilocos Norte. I didn't know that he was previously married [to an Ortega] and turned catholic [from being a devout Aglipayan] to marry Imelda (b.1929)  after eleven days of courtship. Imelda at the time was politically well-connected, her uncle Daniel Romualdez was the president of the Senate.

2. Prior to Marcos, Imelda dated Benigno Aquino briefly who then broke off with her in favor of Corazon Cojuangco. As fate would have it, she together with General Fabian Ver would be accused of ordering his assasination in 1983.

3. Marcos' downfall may be attributed to his vanity. Apparently, he had shortcomings for being vertically and horizontally challenged. He deliberately poofed his hair to appear tall next to his towering wife and to address his virility,  his Binondo apothecarist concocted a mixture of herbs and crushed  tiger bones.  Although he looked ripped at 60, the concoction didn't augur well for his kidneys and thus contracted lupus.

4. Marcos while undergoing dialysis treatment, sent Imelda as a special envoy to meet the who's who during the Cold War: Mao Tse Tung in China, Fidel Castro in Cuba, Henry Kissinger, Henry Ford, George Bush Sr. and even Muammar Gaddafi in Libya.  The latter led to the successful conclusion of the Tripoli Agreement in 1976 to stop funding the insurgents in Muslim Mindanao as well as the establishment of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao with Nur Misuari as head.  For this, she was nominated for a Nobel Peace prize in 1978.

5. And finally, the rumor that Imelda had over a hundred workers entombed alive in an accident during the construction of the Manila Film Center may just be an urban legend after all. Howie Severino revisited the incident and concluded in his documentary that no one was buried alive and in fact, Imelda may have been telling the truth that she properly buried all seven construction workers and compensated the families well.

Now 83 years old, Imelda has truly lived an interesting life. She was acquitted of racketeering and fraud charges in the United States in1990.  Well, she's back in Manila and active in politics as congresswoman from Ilocos Norte which is strangely the position of her husband when she first met him. I guess everything is uncanny with Imelda. She said "I am First Lady by accident. I was not elected by the people but here I am."

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