Imelda Marcos celebrates 85th birthday with diamonds and 'shoe' cake

Imelda Marcos celebrates 85th birthday with diamonds and 'shoe' cake

Imelda Marcos, the flamboyant wife of deposed Philippines dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, celebrated her 85th birthday in his hometown on July 2 with her supporters and children, and a plot to reclaim the Philippine presidency

She attended a mass, blew candles on birthday cakes and gave money to supporters and children in Laoag, Ilocos Norte in northern Philippines.

Although declaring herself to be "poverty-stricken", she displayed some traces of the extravagance that led to their dramatic downfall. An AFP report said she wore a "flowing red gown and diamond rings" in the family mansion in their stronghold of Batac when emerging to greet supporters on Wednesday.

Once notorious for her legendary shopping trips and huge collection of shoes and jewellery, she also had an extensive collection of art treasures including the works of masters like Botticelli, Michelangelo, Monet and Picasso.

There were claims she had 3,000 pairs of expensive shoes, but she insisted that had much fewer. “I did not have three thousand pairs of shoes, I had one thousand and sixty.”

The couple, who became a symbol of excess during their 20-year-reign, also accumulated foreign bank accounts and stashed away billions of dollars. The "People's Power" revolution forced them out of power in the 1986 and they fled to Hawaii, reported AFP.

After Ferndinand Marcos died while in exile, Imelda Marcos and her three children were subsequently allowed to return to the Philippines. They managed to regain significant political clout in the northern province of Ilocos Norte.

Last year, Imelda Marcos won a second term as congresswoman representing the province while her son, Ferdinand Marcos Junior, was elected senator. Her eldest daughter, Imee, is the provincial governor.

Although frail-looking on her birthday, the matriarch declared her vision to "bring more help to the Filipino people", and insisted her senator son was qualified to contest the presidency in 2016 when the family foe, Benigno Aquino, ends his term in office.

Returning to the presidential palace would be a great help in launching her projects, she said in an interview, reported AFP.

The saga over the ownership of her prized belongings is not over.

Accusing President Aquino's late mother, former President Corazon Aquino, of confiscating the Marcos wealth even before they were legally tried, Imelda Marcos hit out at his plans to auction off her jewellery collection.

She would prefer the jewels to be put on public display because she wants the Filipinos to know "what is world class". Just like her massive shoe collection, which was seized and displayed in a museum.

She was delighted when seeing a surprise cake for her birthday on Wednesday - it was topped off with a gorgeous 'stiletto'.

chenj@sph.com.sg

 

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