Imelda Marcos...what a fascinating individual. I was basically too young to personally remember all of the exploits of herself and her husband, but I've learned about the most memorable ones. Through the years, I've found myself magnetically attracted to anything written about her. She was truly larger than life, even though she wasn't a movie star. She was portrayed as either a monster or a martyr, but one version of her is much more compelling in its accuracy. If you've read my blog long enough, you probably know which version I believe her to be.
At the same time I began my fascination with Imelda, I followed the OJ Simpson trial. While OJ Simpson isn't really similar to Imelda in who he is/was as a person, the aftermath of his trial drew some interesting parallels as well as contrasts. These differences truly illustrate the personality of Filipinos as a people vs. Americans.
Anyone who knows anything about Imelda Marcos probably knows the unending list of charges, accusations, investigations, and court cases against her. Many people contend that Ferdinand Marcos did good things for the Philippines...but Imelda had a different agenda fueled by insatiable greed. While she denies it, she is easily one of the most famous/infamous people of the 20th century. Like OJ Simpson, she was acquitted of most of these charges with only a few still pending (probably never to be resolved). People who followed her trails basically described the outcomes in the same way as the trial of Mr. Simpson. Simply put, you can get away with basically anything if you have enough money or connections. But my point of this is the aftermath of the trials. From what I understand, OJ Simpson can't really go anywhere in public without people giving him dirty looks or audibly talking about him. I've read about all of the establishments he's been denied entrance. Even though he was cleared of his murder charges, most people still believe he killed his wife and her boyfriend. Americans have never forgiven him, and he is treated with disdain wherever he goes. He's free, but must serve a life sentence in the his own prison of public opinion. This is in contrast to his earlier years when he was still treated as a superstar, many years after his football career.
Now let's look at Imelda Marcos. I remember watching the movie "Imelda" in the theaters in Makati. There were many foreigners there, and most of them were groaning or shaking their heads every time Imelda told her narrative in the film. Afterwards, I overheard a couple of young foreigners commenting how Imelda is "simply insane" and spoke of how they couldn't believe how people still horde her for autographs and to pose in pictures as illustrated by the movie. It was clear that they condemned her and would do so if she was in the States.
I saw Imelda Marcos a few weeks ago outside of the mall at Greenbelt 3. Nobody paid much attention to her other than just stare as she was welcomed into an expensive restaurant. No scathing comments were spoken from others around me other than "There's Imelda Marcos". She sat down inside and only a few people inside looked up to see her enter. Looking through the window, I watched the faces of the people inside. The only ones giving her the evil eye were a few foreigners. Their wives/girlfriends just mouthed something to the effect of "don't mind her" from what I could read on their lips.
So there you have it. OJ is condemned while Imelda is forgotten. Is this a result of our "damaged culture?" It's more like so many individuals have trampled our collective souls over the centuries, that we as a people no longer have the will to get mad...much less get even.
May 16th, 2005
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