Imelda Romualdez-Marcos with former President Ferdinand Marcos and family during the 1965 inauguration

MANILA, JULY 8, 2013 (PHILSTAR) LIVE FEED By Bibsy M. Carballo - Although Imelda Romualdez-Marcos has always managed to make her presence felt even as a private individual, the past month has been strangely “imeldific”! We came home from a long vacation to find stories by two Philippine Star columnists, Carmen Pedrosa and Sara Soliven-de Guzman, on the reappearance of a book by Pedrosa titled The Untold Story of Imelda Marcos.

The book had driven journalist Chit Pedrosa and her family into exile for fear of their lives in 1970.

Its recent launching at the Opera Haus in Palanan, Makati brought tears to old timers who had gone through the Marcos-Imelda era, and youngsters who would just get to know the real story.

Sara, daughter of Max Soliven, one of those imprisoned by Marcos during martial law, has had access to the book her dad had stored in the closet. She writes that “It was the only book I held about the country from age nine to 17.”

Another Imelda story came from Rito Asilo who had spent a month in New York watching as many plays as he could muster.

One was the musical Here Lies Love, which he says, “doesn’t merely examine the intriguing dichotomy of the Rose of Tacloban who, in 1954, following an 11-day courtship, married Ferdinand Marcos after he swept the ex-beauty queen off her feet.” The musical covers Imelda’s life-changing moments one after the other.

As if this wasn’t enough, we chanced upon a second book by Carmen on the book shelf of our friend Dr. Malony Santos, written after the Marcoses had left in 1986, titled The Rise and Fall of Imelda Marcos. This one, we just had to devour.

It started from the marriage of Imelda’s parents Remedios to Vicente Orestes, a widower with five children.

The grand matriarch of the clan was Doña Trinidad Lopez de Romualdez, a strong woman from whom, it is said, Imelda took her unyielding spirit.

Her mother Remedios Trinidad who came from a nunnery was another tower of strength, archetypical figure of indomitable will for generations that the Romualdez women were doomed to emulate. There was no way, therefore that Imelda wouldn’t follow suit.

Succeeding paragraphs would deal with how the children of Vicente by his first wife would not accept Remedios and her children living with them, and how the story of Imelda living in a garage would circulate.

The strong-willed Remedios told Vicente that rather than be treated with disdain by her stepdaughter, she would prefer to live in the garage below, where Vicente would go and visit them. The helper Estrella tells of how she would hear Remedios crying at night.

In 1937 upon feeling labor pains, the headstrong Remedios walked to the corner, hailed a taxi and headed for the PGH free ward to give birth to her last child. Within hours she was dead and Imelda, age nine, didn’t attend the burial rites. She was now charged to care for her siblings being the eldest.

The next highlight in the sad story of Imelda came in the battle for Miss Manila, during the time of Mayor Arsenio Lacson.

Imelda went to see the mayor in the brink of tears, telling him that she had no money and it meant everything to win the title. This is also when she discovered the power of her tears. The contest was not without controversy surrounding Imelda’s winning but it drew attention of two important men — Harvard-educated architect Ariston Nakpil and Ilocos Rep. Ferdinand Marcos.

Most everyone knows the story of how Marcos courted and won the hand of the beautiful Miss Manila in 11 days.

Joe Guevara, reporter for the Manila Times, was on hand during the courtship in Manila, the trip to Baguio and the signing of the marriage contract. Carmen stated in the second book The Rise and Fall of Imelda Marcos, “Like Marcos, she entered the marriage with cold calculations. Beneath the idyllic romance lurked two wounded figures from the past, both driven by the will to win power and acceptance.”

Once in Malacañang, the couple made use of their power, to get worldwide recognition.

As we go through the book, we find the brilliant Ferdinand as the instructor, Imelda as the fast learner using her beauty and charm, and later being given more and more responsibilities by Marcos.

We find in the book, a depressing tale of how poverty can drive one to corruption; the importance of a proper upbringing; and how drive and ambition can destroy.

From her vantage point away from the Philippines, we can appreciate the author writing this book with a total understanding of the human psyche — and sympathy.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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