Monday, November 20, 2006


Ok. So I finally met Imelda Marcos. And even though I really didn't want to - I did. Actually, I have refused quite a few offers to interview or meet Madame M in the flesh. Considering that I do a tour called "Living La Vida Imelda", a three hour tour about her life and the architecture that she commissioned, I really didn't want to contaminate my viewpoint by meeting the subject herself. The tour I do is based on our country's perceptions about the woman. It includes both the rumors and the realities, and I felt that meeting her would compromise the content. But nevertheless, last Saturday our inevitable meeting had come to pass.

The location was at the Philippine Plaza Hotel, the time was after my Quiapo tour, the event was the launch of her jewelry collection, and my outfit: Puruntong pants (cargo bermuda shorts), a sweaty red collared shirt, and dirty sneakers. I was totally wearing an inappropriate outfit for the launch of a jewelry line but who cares? I had just come from touring and I wouldn't have changed even if I was going to meet the Queen of England or the Pope. Admittedly, my invite came at the last minute (thank you Junjun for letting me crash the party with you) and I didn't have the time. Besides, my intentions to crash the party were pure. I wasn't planning to wolf down all their food or social climb any of the characters that were there. I was only curious about what her jewelry designs looked like - period. Bryanboy - Pahiram ng photo of the event above (Bryanboy - Can I borrow the photo above, please?) I forgot to bring a camera that night.

Anyhoo, Imelda sat across the room in a leaf green and pink butterfly sleeved terno, muching on chicken barbecue (boneless, of course) when I was suddenly motioned to come over by the hostess of the evening, Daphne Osena Paez. "O, have you ever met Imelda?", she asked? I said no and was just about to explain myself when quicker than you could say "Salvatore Ferragamo Balena Grey velvet sandals with fondente dark brown galuchet ornaments", Daphne turns to MIRM and says, "Mrs. Marcos, this is Carlos Celdran, he does tours of the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the Coconut Palace."

Then suddenly, everything got a little foggy. To tell you the truth, I kinda lost composure. When people say that the woman radiates an energy, it doesn't quite measure up to the act of actually meeting her up front. I could swear her hair was vibrating. I almost found myself courtseying.

And then... she opened her mouth: "Ah yes," she began, smiling at me with her rheumy eyes suddenly aglow with nostalgic thoughts. "I was talking to National Geographic Magazine yesterday about when Mrs. Marcos was still first lady." I love it. She talks about herself in the third person. "I was visiting the provinces and I saw people living in these little shanties. They were so ugly. So I told them, 'O pagandahin mo naman. ('Why don't you make your houses more beautiful?') and they told me, 'Maam, we cannot because we only have these simple materials of bamboo and coconut.'" Pause. Small bite into her chicken barbecue. Then, she continued, "So what did I do? I built them a coconut and bamboo palace to show them that even if you are poor, there is no excuse for being ugly."

How brilliant - I think. I then found myself apologizing for what I was wearing. "It's okay, she said without looking at me "I know that is how the young people dress nowadays." But after being introduced to my wife, Tesa, she turns to me and says, "So many beautiful people here tonight, birds of a feather flock together." Then a giggle. Then another bite of the barbecue.

After a few more shared words, her parting words to me were, "Remember to always set an example, mass always follows class, class never follows mass." before adamantly reinforcing that, "It's NEVER the other way around!"

Um. Ok. The fog had lifted.

Oh - and to be fair, the woman has a bit of talent. The pieces she designed were...Ok.

The next CCP tour is on November 24, Friday at 2:00pm and November 30, Thursday at 2:00pm. Meet at the CCP Figaro Coffee Shop across from the theatre entrance automobile ramp.

Next, my visit to her former town house in New York City...

PS. Thanks a gazillion to uber super duper sex therapist, Dra. Margie Holmes for the lovely shout out on her website. She really is too sweet. If you haven't checked out her great site yet. Log onto it now.