MY WORLD stops each time I see The Madame, former First lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos. Now an octogenarian, she looks as graceful and godly as ever. In a land as benighted as ours, she is the closest thing to a queen. Every time we cross paths, I am, for want of a better term, starstruck, for no Filipino has ever captured the world’s imagination more than The Madame has, no matter if critics consider her life as debatable as her riches.
I am convinced that, driven by the Second District Representative-elect’s mantra of pursuing only “the true, the good, and the beautiful,” wonderful things are on their way, and these we gladly await. But why does she even have to be in politics at this time of her life? Her rightful place in Philippine, er, world history is secure. Why the trouble?
“I just want to be a good grandmother to Ilocos and to the nation,” she said in a speech.
I have had the pleasure of listening to her speak (and sing) many times, and it has always been a joy. Some people might find her thoughts uncanny, but every sound that comes out of her royal lips are, for loyal and true subjects like me, dogma. I love it when she speaks of herself in the third person point of view. It is amusing how my talented friend Ianree impersonates The Madame, but this he does with no tinge of ridicule, only adulation and awe. (I suggest Catholic priests learn from The Madame, or Ianree at least. Pathetic in both form and substance, they bore me no end. They are an insult both to intelligence and to beauty. ho-hum.)
Allow me to share with you, dear friends, various quotes attributed to The Madame. I have personally listened to her deliver many of these lines while some are from primary sources.
These statements occasionally run on my head without cease. They call it LSS, Last Speech Syndrome.
I call it Imeldiction.
Imelda on Imelda
“I am writing a book called ‘mothering.’ It is not about me being the minister for human settlement, it is not about Imelda who… (enumerates achievements) Now, people may ask, ‘ is Imelda a genius (look left)?’ (shift focus) NO! ‘ Is Imelda brilliant (look left)?’ (shift focus) NO! what does Imelda have? “(silence. gaze.) Imelda has what is common to all. Imelda has common sense. Common sense is in human nature. What is natural is true, good, and beautiful. Beauty is God made real.”
“I have never been a material girl. My father always told me never to love anything that cannot love you back.”
“I was no Marie Antoinette. I was not born to nobility, but I had a human right to nobility.”
“When they see me holding fish, they can see that I am comfortable with kings as well as with paupers.”
“Continuous persecution of widows and orphans is a crime. Even the Bible says there is a specific place in hell for those who oppress widows.”
“I am a criminal element, an evil person, a vampire, a werewolf, a prostitute, a professional thief, a very greedy person, a person who deserves to die, a person whose death will be good for the people, a person who deserves to go to hell for stealing from the dying and starving, a dangerous person, a killer, a power-hungry person, a usurper of authority and a person without conscience who should be condemned.” — (what she claims is the libel in Argee Guevara’s column in Businessworld, August 1996, against which she filed suit)
On beauty and fashion
“I hate ugliness. You know I’m allergic to ugliness.”
“Never dress down for the poor. They won’t respect you for it. They want their First Lady to look like a million dollars.”
“Filipinos want beauty. I have to look beautiful so that the poor Filipinos will have a star to look at from their slums.”
“What’s wrong with shoes? I collected them because it was like a symbol of thanksgiving and love.”
“It is terribly important to do certain things, such as wear over-embroidered dresses. After all, the mass follows class. Class never follows mass.”
“They call me corrupt, frivolous. I am not at all privileged. Maybe the only privileged thing is my face. And corrupt? God! I would not look like this if I am corrupt. Some ugliness would settle down on my system.”
“People say I`m extravagant because I want to be surrounded by beauty. But tell me, who wants to be surrounded by garbage?”
Told by doctors that she may have to wear therapeutic shoes: “More shoes? Bring it on!”
“Win or lose, we go shopping after the election.”
On being First Lady
“When Marcos became president and I became First Lady, I asked, ‘Marcos, now that you are president, what is my role? He said, ‘me, as President and father, I will build a strong house for the Filipino People. You, Imelda, as first lady and mother, make it a home.’ So I reflected, what makes a home? Love. What is love made real? Beauty. What reflects the beautiful traditions, values, arts, dance, music that we have as a people? Culture. So I built the Cultural Center of the Philippines.”
“The problem with First Ladies is that you have to set the standard. My role is to be both star and slave.”
“My husband does not like me to give interviews because I say too much. No talk, no trouble.”
“The Philippines is right at the center of the globe. … As Chairman Mao said, you can change ideologies anytime, but you can never change geography. Geopolitics! This is what will make the Philippines great and beautiful again.”
“Have you noticed how when you’re traveling from the West to the Philippines, you don’t get tired, but when you travel from here to the West, you’re exhausted? This is because in one instance you’re going with the current of the Gulf Stream; in the other instance, you’re going against it.”
“‘Nouveau riche’ is better than ‘no riche.’” (New rich is better than no rich.)
“If you know how much you’ve got, you probably haven’t got much.”
“If you know how rich you are, you are not rich. But me, I am not aware of the extent of my wealth. That’s how rich we are.”
There you have them, folks. Love live our noble Queen. God save the Queen!