Imelda Marcos was born on July 2, 1929 to Vicente Orestes Lopez Romuáldez, who was of Spanish-Chinese-Filipino decent (During the Spanish rule over the Philippines, the Chinese-Filipinos were encouraged to intermarry with the Spanish for two reasons: the Spanish were selective on who was able to own land and intermarry into their race was a simple way to avoid these restrictions. Also, the Spanish were concerned with spreading Christianity and marriage was an easy way to spread the gospel.) and Remedios Trinidad. Imelda’s father was a scholarly man who came from a wealthy and prominent family that claims to have founded the town of Tolosa, Leyete. Her mother came from a more humble background, growing up in an orphanage in Manila. It is speculated that Imelda’s mother was the illegitimate offspring of a friar. Imelda grew up in the San Miguel district of Manila but moved back to Leyete when her mother passed away. In Leyete, Imelda attended St. Paul’s College and earned her bachelor’s degree there.
Imelda grew to become a beauty queen. At the age of 18, she became “Miss Leyete” and the “Rose of Tacloban. She rose to fame through her beauty and was named the “Muse of Manila” by the mayor of Manila at the time, Arsenio Lacson. This was a special title given to her after her protest in her loss in the Miss Manila pageant. In 1954, Imelda met politician Ferdinand E. Marcos and married him in May that year after a courtship in Baguio during Holy Week.
In December 1965, Ferdinand E. Marcos was elected President of the Philippines, making Imelda the First Lady. Marcos’s regime was a corrupted one because of his dishonesty. He abolished the 1935 Philippine Constitution and instated a parliamentary system, composed mainly of his own political appointees. During this time, Ferdinand also appointed Imelda to many government positions such as Governor of Metropolitan Manila, Minister of Human Settlement, and Ambassador Plenipotentiary and Extraordinary. In December on 1972, Imelda was stabbed in her assassination attempt during a broadcasted award ceremony. The Filipino government at the time claims that the assailant was shot to death by police security, although the assassination appeared to be staged.
Although Ferdinand E. Marcos’s regime was a corrupt and a ridiculous regime, Imelda made many positive achievements during his time of power. Even though they were selfish and spent millions of dollars on bolstering their public image, Imelda used this image to positively represent the Philippines when she acted as an envoy and traveled to China, the Soviet Union and Soviet satellite states in Eastern Europe such as Romania, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, the Middle East, Libya, the non-Soviet dominated communist state of Yugoslavia, and Cuba. Although these countries did not have a trustworthy and respectable government (just like Marcos’s government), Imelda did an excellent job of representing the Filipino people. She gave hope to many Filipinos and held an image of a classy Filipino lady, an image that many women strived for. Imelda is a hardworking and compassionate Filipino woman, although she was corrupted by her riches.
– Alexander Nubla