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Imelda Marcos spent more than 20 years as the first lady of the Philippines. She became infamous for her spending habits and enormous shoe collection.
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Born in the Philippines in 1929, Imelda Marcos went to Catholic girls school in Tacloban. She married politician Ferdinand Marcos in 1954. Marcos became the first lady of the Philippines in 1965. While her husband held office, she had several government positions. In 1986, Marcos and her husband fled the country. She eventually returned home and was elected to the national congress in 1995, and again in 2010.
"When they went through my closets looking for skeletons, all they found were shoes."
"I'm allergic to ugliness."
Born on July 2, 1929, in Manila, the capital city of the Philippines, Imelda Marcos is best known as the former first lady of the Philippines. First, however, she was Imelda Remedios Visitacion Romualdez, the oldest daughter of a lawyer and a homemaker. She grew up with her five younger siblings and several older half-siblings from her father's first marriage.
Marcos experienced a number of hardships at a young age. She lost her mother to pneumonia in 1938, and her father's law practice fizzled out around the same time. He then moved to the family to Leyte, his home province. The family continued to struggle financially. To put food on the table, Marcos sold off a small diamond from a necklace of her mother's whenever money was tight. Marcos attended an all-girls school called Holy Infant Academy in Tacloban. She studied English there, among other subjects.
In the early 1950s, Marcos moved to Manila to live with a cousin. There, she met a young politician on the rise named Ferdinand Marcos. Only 11 days after meeting each other, Imelda and Ferdinand married in a small civil ceremony. The couple then threw themselves an elaborate bash for friends and family a month later.
As her husband climbed the country's political ladder, Imelda Marcos cared for the couple's growing family. They eventually had three children together: Imee, Irene and Ferdinand Jr., also known as "Bongbong." Ferdinand was elected president in 1965, and Imelda, with her beauty and poise, soon drew comparisons to another famous first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy.
In her role as first lady, Marcos met a diverse mix of world leaders, from U.S. president Lyndon B. Johnson to Cuban leader Fidel Castro, to Libyan dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi. She sought out political opportunities for herself in addition to supporting her spouse. In the mid-1970s, Marcos served as governor of the metro Manila area. She spearheaded many costly beautification and development projects. Marcos later served in the interim national assembly and as the minister of human settlements.
While many Filipinos lived in poverty, Imelda Marcos became known for her lavish spending. She traveled to New York City and other destinations to buy expensive fashions, high-end jewelry and other luxury items. Marcos had to have the finest of everything for the presidential residence—the Malacañang Palace. But all of this splendor was gained at the cost of the Filipino people. It is believed that the Marcos family and their cronies took billions from the country's coffers.
In addition to theft and corruption, the Marcos regime also known for its oppressive rule.
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