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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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Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in 1972, basically making himself the country's dictator. This move allowed him to crush growing resentment among the people and prevent his adversaries from unseating him from power. The Marcos government could be brutal to those who opposed it. Some were tortured and others were executed without trial.
With assassination of vocal Marcos opponent Benigno Aquino in 1983,
the Marcos government began to lose its hold over the Filipino people. Imelda ended up fleeing the country with her husband after he was forced from office by the "people power" movement in 1986. In the rush to leave, she left many items behind at the presidential palace. Her impressive collection of roughly 1,200 pairs of designer shoes made headlines. These fancy pieces of footwear became international symbol of the former ruling couple's flamboyant spending habits and wealth.
Marcos and her husband eventually settled in Hawaii. The pair seemed to live quite comfortably despite facing legal problems and pressure to return the funds allegedly plundered from the Philippine government. Not long after her husband's death in 1989, Imelda Marcos faced fraud and racketeering charges in an American court. Marcos was charged in connection with the misappropriation of roughly $200 million from her country, which was used to buy real estate in New York City. Heiress Doris Duke posted the bail for Marcos and actor George Hamilton testified in her defense. Marcos was acquitted in this case.
In 1991, Marcos returned to the Philippines. She was allowed to come back to her native country because the government hoped to recoup some lost funds held by Marcos. Marcos soon sought political power for herself, running for president the following year. Marcos lost her election bid to military leader Fidel V. Ramos and soon found herself in another court battle. Convicted on corruption charges in 1993, she received a lengthy prison sentence. But her conviction was later overturned.
A first lady no longer, Marcos has struck out on her own as a political force. She won her first election since returning from exile in the mid-1990s. Marcos served as a member of the House of Representatives for several years. In 2010, she won election to become the representative for Ilocos Norte province. This area is where her late husband was born and where the Marcos family still wields some political clout. Two of her children are in politics as well. Her daughter Imee won the post of governor of Ilocos Norte in 2010, and her son Ferdinand Jr., or "Bongbong," was elected to the country's senate that same year.
Marcos, however, may never fully emerge from the shadows of her past. She continues to face legal challenges regarding funds allegedly taken from the Philippine government. Some estimates indicate that the Marcos family amassed a roughly $10 billion fortune during their time in power.
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