Remember when we just couldn't get enough of Imelda Marcos? The woman who put shoe obsession on the global watch-list long before Carrie Bradshaw was even conceived, was the epitome of despotic greed, proudly showing off her walk-in wardrobe of 3000 pairs of shoes and obliviously parading her jewels and riches around. And then of course, she insisted on singing love songs totally off-key in public to her despicable husband and that was almost too much. Looking at garish, tasteless shoes was one thing, having our eardrums assaulted was quite another.
One of her most famous quotes could not have been made up: "Filipinos want beauty. I have to look beautiful so that the poor Filipinos will have a star to look at from their slums."
Poor Imelda. She was once considered one of the world's wealthiest women, but now she says she's penniless. Last week she complained about having to use some of her husband's war pension to fly from Manila to Singapore for an eye check up.
"I have not touched it, because it is my proof that he was a soldier and a national hero and the most decorated Filipino in World War II. This is an injustice. Please, have mercy," she pleaded. (Here it might be appropriate to point out that Ferdy's war record is under dispute and the right to all the medals he awarded himself is generally regarded with a cocked eyebrow.)
The Philippines government continues to prosecute a staggering array of graft cases against the Marcos family, 23 years after Ferdinand was tossed out in one of the first 'people power' movements. They are alleged to still have over $10 billion in "ill gotten" assets.
But on Monday (15 June) Imelda had a small victory in Manila. $310 million worth of jewelery seized by an anti-graft agency in 1990 was ordered to be returned to her.
"Many of those jewelery pieces were intended for religious images, like tiaras for the Blessed Virgin Mary." Mrs Marcos claimed.
Newsweek recently nominated Imelda Marcos as one of history's greediest people (she was on the list with Bernie Madoff, and edged out other 3rd world dictators. No mean feat for the woman with expensive feet).
Being Imelda she reveled in the honor. "For me, greedy is giving. I was First Lady for 20 years. You have to be greedy first to give to all. It is natural."
But the question remains. Where are all those shoes? Mrs Marcos has said she is determined to have them returned to her. Personally, I would not like to see any of the shoes I owned in 1986 ever again. I doubt they would even qualify as vintage kitsch. But Imelda continues to fight for what she says is rightfully hers -- the loot acquired from her husband's twenty one years of pillaging the Philippines.
Follow Virginia M. Moncrieff on Twitter: www.twitter.com/vmmoncrieff