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28 Years Ago, Imelda Marcos Demanded Her Panties Back

She had 3,500 pairs of panties!
ILLUSTRATOR Bacs Arcebal
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In March 1986, a month after the People Power Revolution toppled the conjugal dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, Malacañang Palace, once closed to the public, was opened by the revolutionary government. For the first time in history, ordinary Filipinos got a glimpse of the grandeur, elegance, and extravagance of the Palace and the possessions of its former residents.

On the first day the Palace was opened for public viewing, at least 10,000 poor Filipinos lined up for hours just to see the remnants of the treasures the Marcoses failed to pack in their haste to escape the 1986 Revolution.

Among the haul were thousands of pairs of shoes, 18-carat Italian gold jewelry and necklaces strewn across the floor, hundreds of pairs of bras, and a staggering number of panties piled in a four-foot heap in corner of a room, according to a 1986 report by the Los Angeles Times.

According to an investigative report by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, her panties numbered 3,500 pairs, matched by 2,000 gowns, 500 bras, and 3,000 pairs of shoes.

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Four years later in 1992, Imelda, who returned to the Philippines a year prior, demanded the government to return her amassed possessions she left in Malacañang in 1986.

After delivering a letter to the Presidential Commission on Good Governance (PCCG), which was established by the government to recover the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses, Imelda told reporters, “It is at this time that President Aquino’s term is ending that what belongs to us should be given back.”

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When asked if she was referring to her thousands of pairs of shoes, she replied, “Including the shoes, panties, and bras,” a 1992 report by the Associated Press quoted.

But her obsession for shoes, panties, and bras are peanuts in comparison to the wealth the family had amassed in their 20 years of ruling the Philippines.

Imelda is a myth propped up by her obscene excesses. In June 2019, she had a declared net worth of P923.8 million, based on her SALN when she was still a member of the House of Representatives. On rare occasions when she grants interviews, she tells stories of her grand lifestyle, so grand it is hard to believe they are true. There is no word to describe it, such that the world had to invent a word for it: Imeldific.

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In an interview in her sprawling penthouse in Manila, Imelda showed off her stash of paintings of Renaissance master Michelangelo, post-impressionist master Paul Gauguin, and surrealist Pablo Picasso. She also showed off a treasury certificate allegedly worth $987 billion, a sum many times worth more than the Philippine economy.

Based on the interview, it now seems that 3,000 pairs of panties are really just a disposable fraction of the excesses of Imelda Marcos.

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Mario Alvaro Limos
Features Editor, Esquire Philippines
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