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A FITTING TRIBUTE TO FORMER FIRST LADY IMELDA MARCOS

By: Bernie Ang

This week, specifically on July 2, 2024, former First Lady Imelda Marcos will be celebrating her 95th birthday.

It is thus worthy to pay her a fitting tribute by discussing the numerous worthwhile projects and programs that she had created which, up to now, benefits countless Filipinos.

She was a First Lady like no other. Having been at the side of her late husband, the former President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. (who of course we all know is the father of current Philippine President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos, Jr.) during his rein from 1965 t0 1986 or a period of 21 years, FL Imelda made herself very, very useful when she could have just relaxed and enjoyed a good life like most First Ladies.

FL Imelda’s rise to fame was brought on not only by her distinctive beauty and elegance and beautiful voice but moreso, by her intelligence and humanitarian works. When FM sent her on official visits to other countries as a de facto vice president during the times that he was preoccupied with the affairs of the Philippines, FL Imelda made a mark among world leaders owing to her commanding presence and intellect.

In her first three years of being First Lady, she embarked on vital programs that included the beautification of the historic Paco Park and Fort Santiago..

In 1966, she went into social welfare efforts by tapping the help of groups involved in social welfare. The efforts involved the construction of welfare villages and the reorientation of personnel to staff them.

The Reception and Study Center in Quezon City cornerstone was laid in 1966, followed by several more that were built from then until 1968: Marilla Hills in Alabang, the Children’s Orphanage in Pasay, the Molave Village in Tanay, Rizal, a Home for the Aged in Quezon City and the Philippine Village at the then Manila International Airport.

In 1967, FL Imelda began the “Share for Progress” Seed Dispersal Program, a project that suggested making vegetable gardens out of idle lots all over the country and a year later, 309,392 kits containing seeds had been distributed in over 1500 towns across the country.

In 1972, FL Imelda Marcos became instrumental for establishing diplomatic relations between the Soviet Union and the Philippines, among other countries

In 1975, she became the first woman guest to be honored to extend official condolences owing to the assassination of King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, at a time when women were not welcome in the Saudi court.

Also In 1975, then President FM issued Presidential Decree 824, establishing the Metro Manila Commission (MMC), then the central government of Metro Manila. FL Imelda was named to head it, making her Governor of Metro Manila from that point until the Marcoses left the Palace. In 1978, she was appointed as Ambassador Plenipotentiary and Extraordinary. This allowed her to tour the United States, the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and Cuba, establishing friendships with Richard Nixon, Muammar Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein, Fidel Castro and Joseph Tito. Likewise, she traveled to Iraq to secure oil and to Libya for a peace treaty with the Moro National Liberation Front.

In that same year FL Imelda was fielded by the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) party as a candidate in the Philippine parliamentary elections and handily won a seat as a member of the Interim Batasang Panbansa or (National Congress) representing Metro Manila (Region IV).

After her return from exile, FL Imelda returned to politics and got elected as a Congresswoman representing the first disrict of Leyte during the 1995 Philippine general election.

In November 2006, she started her own business, a fashion label “Imelda Collection” including jewelry, clothing and shoes with the help of her daughter Imee.
In 2010, she ran and again won as Congresswoman for the second district of Ilocos Norte, replacing her son, now President Ferdinand, Jr. (Bongbong), who ran for senator under the Nacionalista Party.

During her term, she held the position of Milennium Development Goals committee chair in the Lower House. She got re-elected on May 14, 2013 and on May 9, 2016 for a third and final term.

Undeniably, FL Imelda has left behind a number of notable legacies. Following her appointment in 1978 as Minister of Human Settlements, she was able to construct the Manila Film Center, the Calauit Safari Park and the Coconut Palace, the Philippine International Convention Center and the Cultural Center of the Philippines,

Above all, she was responsible for the establishment of the the Philippine Heart Center and the Lung Center of the Philippines which, up to this, day, continues to serve countless Filipinos.

If only for these, our hats go off to the former First Lady Imelda Marcos. Happy birthday and may you be blessed with many more birthdays.

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