“If somebody’s going to kill me, why such an ugly instrument?” That line for me encapsulates Imelda’s vanity and superficiality. The film Imelda essayed by an older, sad-looking woman, supposedly wiser and gained a bit of wisdom from her ordeal, is depressing, some how sympathetic but utterly apathetic, infuriating and absolutely humane at the same time… She says “It’s not expensive to be beautiful. It takes a little effort. E for effort.” Juxtapose that with her couturier, who’s given only 24 hours to finish a gown to make her beautiful, saying “I can say that many women got blind doing her embroidery.” Add to that shots of poor Filipinos living along train tracks, hanging their simple garbs on makeshift clothesline, it portrays a woman poisoned by power, wanton in dispensing stolen money from the people. But she has this to say to rationalize all those outfits, the 3,000 pairs of shoes, the 40-50 suitcases of Louis Vuitton jewelry: “The people need a role model. They need a star, specially in the dark of the night.” And what a night it was for the country. Thousands died and tortured; billions were embezzled, thousands were violated and deprived of property and proper living. Government policies benefitted just a few favored friends and cronies. Imelda’s vanity and superficiality underscores the years of terror and corruption of the Marcos dictatorship.
The documentary by Ramona Diaz was told by Imelda Marcos herself with accounts of her personal associates. Journalists and political adversaries present contrasting views. It traces the life of Madame Marcos from Leyte-rag to Malacanang- rich.
In the film’s portrayal, Imelda emerges as, I must admit, endearing and disturbing. She has a sort of innocence bordering on lunacy. Yet, lest we forget, we have to put everything in perspective, in the context of the Marcos dictatorship and everything that comes with it…
Up to this day, she’s still received like a mega-star wherever she goes, always asked for photo op. At the end of the film, Mrs. Marcos smiles with self-satisfaction and quotes a shoe ad, “There’s a little Imelda in all of us.” And we nod and say to our selves, “True.” WHAT’S WRONG WITH US FILIPINOS?