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Imelda Marcos: Life in the Food Chain

By Stephen Brookes in Bangkok
for Asia Times  July 26, 1996

One of the great things about living in the late twentieth century is that you get to share it with Imelda Marcos. I realize that not everyone agrees with me on this. But how wonderful it was to open the newspaper this week and read that Imelda was taking everybody in the entire known universe to court.

And that's not all. Not only was the former dictatorette going to sue anyone who had ever said anything bad about her -- she was going to haul them before the International Court of Justice and, as she put it, "fry them in their own fat." 

imelda_red2.jpg
I love you ... with a little salt ...

Now, the first thing I thought, as I spat out my coffee and pushed my breakfast away, was: "Whoa -- am I on this list?" And the second thing was: "So that's how she got that little weight problem."


But then another, almost insidious thought crept in. Probably this was just another weird episode in the whole bizarre Marcos saga. But maybe -- just maybe -- Imelda was really onto something here, something that could change all our lives. Had she, in her search for justice, actually hit on a major new snack concept?

I mean, think about it. All she has to do is convince the International Court that everyone who had ever "libeled" her should fry 'til they're crispy, and there would be a virtually unlimited supply of ... of ...


 Well, I'm not sure what, exactly. But certainly somebody could package the result, think up a catchy name ("Imeldoes", maybe?) and dream up an advertising slogan. Something along the lines of: "Imeldoes --  Buy Them, or Be Them."

They'd come in different flavors, obviously. Filipino, of course, but Imelda also sounds ready to toast up a few Americans, too. A Hawaiian jury just ordered her to hand over $22 billion to a bunch of fortune hunters, so presumably there would be "Aloha Imeldoes" with a tangy pineapple flavor. Since it was pesky Swiss bankers who froze some of her assets, there would undoubtedly be Imeldoes with holes in them and sort of a cheesey flavor. And so on -- you get the idea.

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My date with Imelda                              Photo: Rick Kozak
The worrying thing, of course, is that Imeldoes might really catch on. And what happens if, in the dog-eat-dog world of marketing, consumers start demanding Mexican or Chinese-style Imeldoes? Will the Marcoses have to take whole new ethnic groups to court?

Inevitably, other politicians would get the same idea and jump on the bandwagon. How soon do you supose it would be before Aung San Suu Kyi, for example, was trying to get "Slorkies" onto supermarket shelves?

Now, probably none of this is going to happen. Imelda was just in a bit of a snit. And admit it -- wouldn't you be cranky if you lost a $22 billion court case?

So I don't really blame her for heating up the frying pan. Imelda is given to extremes, as we all know from examining her bra collection. But apocalyptic cooking fantasies need to be taken seriously when they're voiced by seriously rich people, and Imelda does have a rather broad grocery list.

And what worries me is that I may be on it, the result of a not-so-flattering magazine story I wrote about her a few years ago. I had spent three hours interviewing her at the Madison Hotel in Washington, DC, and while she was extremely pleasant to me, it was pretty clear that her neurons were badly misfiring. She cried quite a bit, and rambled on vaguely about about God, buried treasure and vox populi. There was a photographer with me, and Imelda made a joke, sort of. "Ferdinand used to say the photographers were the real dictators," she said, and giggled to herself for a while.

Then, at the end of the interview, she invited me to come dine with her "when I'm back in Malacanang Palace."  I accepted, of course. Simple politeness.

But now, I suppose, you'd have to answer that invitation with: "Umm, I think so -- who's on the menu?"


Posted on Tuesday, April 18, 2006 at 04:21PM by Registered CommenterStephen Brookes | CommentsPost a Comment

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