"..a bardy view!"

Imelda’s Penchant

Best story of the week is that Imelda Marcos has a musical album in her honour to be released in April. David Byrne, once of Talking Heads has collaborated with Fatboy Slim to produce a musical all about the widow of infamous Philippines dictator Ferdinand. Imelda Marcos - She was a very beautiful women - she deserves that acknowledgement at the very least.

Dictatorship and the Disco Queen
is not the title, but perhaps an apt substitute. Everyone knows that her major claim to fame was her penchant for shoes (3000), discovered due to her inability to pack them when she and her husband made a hasty getaway by helicopter from Manila's Malacanang Palace back in 1986.

Wisely Mr Byrne has removed references to this as he felt it would diminish the work and distract from it's essence. Well, it may have done had we not now learnt that something else found in the palace has highlighted the woman's idiosyncrasy – piled high, shelf upon shelf were thousands of jars of Heinz Sandwich Spread.
Apparently Imelda was passionate about the stuff because as a child growing up in poverty it was the highlight of her impoverished upbringing. 

"Here Lies Love" consists of 22 songs about the former first lady and her love of the disco. So whilst her country was in the grip of martial law in the heyday of Marcos kleptocracy, she could be found regularly at New York's Studio 54, disco dancing with the celebs of the day.

David is clearly taken by his charismatic subject and equates bizarrely the drug-fuelled headiness of dance music to the same feelings experienced by people in powerful positions. Hmmm. I can't see Gordon Brown doing a  fevered "John Travolta" on a Saturday night – more cocoa and slippers I would imagine. Still, maybe he gets together with Bush and Blair to trip the light fantastic. Throw in John Prescott and Peter Mandelson and the potential of an equally comic musical exists. Suggested titles welcome!

Strangely enough, Byrne has never met Imelda. The closest he came was when she telephoned him asking if she could sing the main songs. Presumably he declined the offer.

It's already been premiered in Australia and the US. Australians have been highly critical due to it's white-washing of her part in a corrupt regime, whilst the American's took it to their bosoms and regard Imelda as an icon. (Thank God for Australians).

The rehabilitation of the "Steel Butterfly" marches on relentless. Today, ensconced in her ivory towers in luxury apartments in Manila, a more sympathetic side to her character is being projected. Sycophantic interviewers laud her desire to improve the lot of the average Filipino, her visions to build great public edifices and even a canal across Luzon (the largest island).

Perhaps they should concentrate on what she hasn't said, her misguided belief that even at 80 years old she regards herself as the saviour of her nation, and her complicity in abuse of power and ostentatious display whilst her people suffered.  History will be her judge and I doubt it will be something to sing about!

The comparison is being made with Evita. More likely it should be Marie Antoinette – a women devoid of reality, living in a luxury palace oblivious to the pain and suffering of her subjects. At least Imelda has kept her head – even if it may not be screwed on right.


March 26, 2010 - Posted by | Arts, General, The Philippines | , , , , , , , , ,

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