Malice in Wonderland: The Imelda Marcos Story

BY VIVIENNE KHOO
Dec 15, 2008
*Special to asia!

The looking-glass world of Imelda Marcos comes under scrutiny in a documentary film.

Perhaps Evita’s finest personal and p

olitical moment came with her long tour of Europe in 1947, during which she met with Franco, the dictator of Spain, Pope Pius XII, and the Italian and French foreign ministers. This was a trip designed to boost the image of her husband’s regime abroad. It included a brief visit to Switzerland where she may have opened at least one secret bank account to deposit funds she received from Nazis in exchange for Argentine passports and visas, according to historians.

She dazzled post-war Europe with her jewels and elegant gowns. Newspapers made much of her rags-to-riches story. She was even on the cover of Time magazine.

She was dying by 1952, a victim of uterine cancer, but she kept up her intense work schedule. Her death brought Argentina to a standstill. Her body was embalmed, and at her wake thousands paid their last respects.

In 1955, Evita’s corpse disappeared, stolen by the military after they had deposed Juan Peron. It was carried to Germany and then Italy, where it was interred for 16 years under another name. It was finally returned to her husband in Spain. When Juan Peron died in Argentina in 1974, Evita’s coffin was brought from Spain and lay in state next to her husband’s.

The fate of Ferdinand Marcos’s embalmed body is still uncertain. For now it lies in a glass coffin in Ilocos Norte, the place where he rose to power. Imelda wants a presidential burial, with all the trimmings — outraged public opinion has kept him above ground. Imelda hopes that she and her husband can eventually be buried side by side with her epitaph reading, “Here lies love”.

Even though efforts to have Evita canonised in Rome met with polite refusal, Evita still holds her near-saint status in Argentina. Her confessor, Father Benitez, said Evita loved her clothes and jewels too much to be a saint (although when she was ill, she said, "If I get well and can return to help the poor all I'll need is a skirt and blouse"). Her epitaph, made famous by the musical Evita, reads: "Don't cry for me Argentina, the truth is I never left you." It still rings true.

 

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vivienne khooOnce a lifestyle editor at a website, a newspaper journalist and a food editor, Vivienne Khoo writes about luxury hotels, food and travel whenever she is not sub-editing. The perfume industry and essential oils are her pet topics at the moment.

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