Rise of a Dictator (Part IV)

Filed under: , by: Ron Centeno

Found in the book Waltzing With A Dictator, (1987), by Raymond Bonner, was a claim made by the Cosmopolitan magazine in December 1975 that Imelda Marcos was one of the ten richest women in the world alongside Queen Elizabeth of England, Christina Onassis Andreadis, Barbara Hutton, and Queen Juliana of the Netherlands, among others. Bonner added that the magazine even suggested she might be the “richest woman in the world, bar none.”

The incredible progress of Imelda Marcos was mind-blowing. Her husband’s salary for the past ten years since becoming Philippine president had been less than $5,000 a year.

The Central Intelligence Agency or CIA in Manila conducted a little informal study, Bonner noted. The station determined that Imelda Marcos’s portfolio consisted of three to four dozen companies, including several banks. In total, her net worth was at least $150 million.

Found in the CIA files, under section headed “The Steel Butterfly” the CIA analyst, begins:

”Mrs. Marcos is ambitious and ruthless. Born a poor cousin of landed aristocracy, she has a thirst for wealth, power and public acclaim, and her boundless ego makes her easy prey for flatters. Although she has little formal education, she is cunning.

Her political organization is largely made up of media people and businessmen, plus a scattering of politicians and a few military men. Most are sycophants seeking protection.

Her political advancement has been handled largely by her brother, Benjamin Romualdez, absentee governor of Leyte Province, home of Imelda’s family”

The CIA analyst concluded that the “Marcos marriage was essentially a business and political partnership.” He was head of government; she was head of state. It was a conjugal partnership.

Prior to my writing the Fall of a Dictator, I was more skeptic than eager to dig into the horrible past of the Marcos rule. Part of my skepticism is that the topic is now passé. It has been 23 years now since Marcos fled the country and eventually succumbed to his own sorry death.

What triggered me to finally bring to light the abuse of power by the Marcoses and their cronies, however, is, foremost, to disabuse the lingering belief of some still misguided Filipinos who think we owe things to them. Second, I desire that while history is oftentimes repeats itself, the lessons we can learn from the Marcoses and their cronies would put the break on repeating history.



On March 5, 2009 at 12:07 AM , Lepri Felix said...

dear Ron,

Mrs. Marcos...reminds me of her tons of ladies' shoes' collections...

On March 5, 2009 at 4:09 AM , maxi said...

i personally know a person who's a friend of the marcoses and their allies and whenever he's drunk, he just could not keep "bad" secrets from being shared.

i am still really amazed on how some people idolize them as Gods.

anyway, corruption is still obvious but at least, it's not as bad as it was before... somehow.

anyway, the marcoses are also very famous here in sweden due to the fact that imelda owned (or still owns) tons of shoes which are worth millions!

thanks for following me. i am now following you, too. thanks

On March 5, 2009 at 9:15 AM , Anonymous said...

lol... o.k. so where i work it's bunch of old ladies, it's a rehab/retirement facility and they always asked me "remember that lady marcos" and i was like "yeah, somewhat" and then the residents would just talk about shoes cuz that's what they know her for, the shoes, she's known for her shoe collections... lol anyhoo, thanks for posting this blog, learned a lot...

and yes i do need to clean my room... haha...

have a good day!


On March 6, 2009 at 9:41 PM , Alexys Fairfield said...

Hi Ron,

Very provocative blog and template. All I heard about Imelda Marcos in America is that she had over 5,000 pairs of shoes. That's do to the superficiality the U.S. media. Thanks for the deeper explanation of the Marcos' and who they really were. I like how your mind thinks.

On March 7, 2009 at 5:45 AM , Shei says: said...

hi ron thanks sa pagdalaw again.. kababyan ko si marcos so makamarcos ako heheh =D

On March 7, 2009 at 5:55 AM , Makoy said...

finally read your posts. will finish the marcos topics. salamat kuya sa pagvisit sa blog ko lagi.

On March 7, 2009 at 7:18 AM , Ron Centeno said...

Lepri, Starfish,
Yes, she's well known for being the First Lady who possessed 1,200 pairs of shoes.:-)

Thanks for the comment, that's what we call collective amnesia.

Thanks for reading and the compliment.:-)

F. Marcos was a very smart man and I admire him for that. I'm just not crazy about how he took advantage of his power.

Thanks for reading. Anytime, Makoy!

On March 8, 2009 at 1:55 PM , Wicked Pissa Tees said...

Wow, very informative! Unfortunately, it's true that many in the US only know her for her collection of shoes... Keep up the good work on your blog!

On March 8, 2009 at 4:20 PM , Ron Centeno said...

Wicked Pissa Tees,

Thank you!

On November 16, 2009 at 5:59 PM , Anonymous said...


On November 20, 2009 at 9:33 PM , prashant said...

i am still really amazed on how some people idolize them as Gods.

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