Imelda Marcos at Peace with Herself, but Not Her Critics

Article excerpt

MANILA, September 24, 2009 (AFP) - In an extraordinary world described by Imelda Marcos, the end of the Cold War began with an adoring Chinese leader's kiss of her hand.Her famous extravagance was actually a sacrifice to inspire the poor masses of the Philippines.And her husband, Ferdinand Marcos, was definitely no dictator."I have been so misunderstood," Marcos declared during a wide-ranging interview inside her two-storey penthouse apartment overlooking one of Manila's wealthiest suburbs.Indeed, the former beauty queen's recounting of her life sounds more like a wonderful fairytale than the one tarnished by greed, corruption and power-lust that many outsiders associate with her."My dreams were small and puny with the realities that my dreams became," Marcos said as she sat in her main living room surrounded by a stunning array of jade statues and photos of her meeting world leaders.But at age 80 and with Monday next week marking 20 years since her husband died, the former first lady is acutely aware that not everyone believes in her fairytale, and for many the Marcos story is more akin to a horror movie."I don't want to be remembered as a criminal," she said candidly while discussing her legacy.Indeed, she admitted to remaining driven in the twilight years of her life by her desire to clear the muddied Marcos name.Ferdinand Marcos ruled the Philippines from 1965 to 1986, holding on to power for nearly half of those years thanks to the use of martial law, a compliant military and powerful backing from the United States.During that time, the woman famous for her shoe collection allegedly conspired with her husband to steal billions of dollars from the people they governed and preside over widespread human rights abuses.Their rule finally ended after millions of people took to the streets of Manila, key military chiefs joined the masses and the US government helped them escape the angry hordes by flying the disgraced couple to Hawaii.While Marcos stated that the fact she had never been convicted of any crime should prove she did nothing wrong, she revealed that the endless barbs about her supposed greed continued to cut deeply. …