The Woman Behind the Man
Imelda Marcos’ name is not far behind Ferdinand Marcos, the president who implemented the infamous Martial Law of 1972. She is not just known because she is the wife, but she made a name for herself for some controversial reasons as well.
With that, let’s go back to the beginnings of Imelda. Before marrying Ferdinand, she was Imelda Romualdez born on July 2, 1929 in San Miguel district of Manila. Her father is a lawyer and the Romualdez side of her family are politicians that hail from Leyte.
Imelda came from an affluent family but the financial troubles started between 1931 to 1932. In 1938, her father finally decided to pack up his law practice in Manila and bring back the family to Leyte.
She would go on with her studies in Leyte and she returned back in Manila in 1952, living with a relative – Danieling Romualdez, a politician from the Lower House of Congress that time.
Imelda would then join the controversial Miss Manila contest in 1953. She was not the declared winner at first, but later the decision was revoked and it was awarded to Imelda.
The following year, 1954, she and Ferdinand Marcos will meet for the first time. It was during a budget hearing in the Philippine Congress and she was there along with a cousin to visit Danieling.
Imelda apparently caught Ferdinand’s eye but he was already aware of who she was. He knew that Imelda is from the political clan of the Romualdezes and from her controversial Miss Manila awarding.
Ferdinand asked his friend and a journalist from the Manila Times, Jose Guevara for an introduction. Despite Marcos’ own controversies, Imelda didn’t know much about him that time.
They met on April 6, 1954 and got married quietly on April 17, 1954. To say that it was a whirlwind romance is an understatement, they got married 11 days after their introduction.
Eventually Ferdinand would run for presidency. Imelda held an important role in helping Ferdinand reach his goal. Marcos was intelligent and a strategist but Imelda was also popular and had her way with people.
Undeniably she is charismatic, popular, determined and knows how to reach out to people. People that would be important in supporting Ferdinand in becoming president. She was the one who convinced Fernando Lopez to be Marcos’ running mate (his vice president).
She established important ties for the both of them. They were more than husband and wife, Imelda is also a political partner to Marcos. As we all know, Marcos won and this established her as the First Lady of the Philippines that time.
With their ascendancy in the political arena, Imelda’s love for beautiful and luxurious things showed. Imelda liked socializing here in the country and abroad. She would even include her Blue Ladies* in her trips.
Because she loved socializing, Imelda purchased plenty of gowns, handbags, jewelries, and the infamous collection of shoes. Even when they fled the Philippines after the snap election of 1986, among their cargo were 24 gold bricks which was her gift to Ferdinand on their 24th anniversary.
Imelda Marcos is not as faultless as she claims. How could she have spent so much when Marcos’ annual salary never went beyond $13,500 per year? She is the woman behind the man, Ferdinand. And she’s also behind a lot of grievances against the Filipino people.
*Blue Ladies – Fellow women, mostly wives of other politicians from the Nacionalista Party. Formed during the presidential campaign, and these women helped Imelda in campaigning.
Nick Davies, “The $10bn question: what happened to the Marcos millions?,” https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/07/10bn-dollar-question-marcos-millions-nick-davies, (May 7, 2016).
“Imelda Marcos,” https://www.britannica.com/biography/Imelda-Marcos.