Imelda Romualdez Marcos (Tagalog pronunciation: [ɪˈmelda ˈmaɾkɔs]; born Imelda Remedios Visitacion Trinidad Romualdez; July 2, 1929) is a Filipina politician and convicted criminal who was First Lady of the Philippines for 21 years, during which she and her husband Ferdinand Marcos stole billions: 176 from the Filipino people, amassing a personal fortune estimated to have been worth US$5 billion to US$10 billion by the time they were deposed in 1986. By 2018, about $3.6 billion of this had been recovered by the Philippine government, either through compromise deals or sequestration cases.
She married Marcos in 1954 and became First Lady in 1965 when he became President of the Philippines. She ordered the construction of many grandiose architectural projects, using public funds and “in impossibly short order” – a propaganda practice, which eventually came to be known as her “edifice complex.”
The People Power Revolution in February 1986 unseated the Marcoses and forced the family into exile in Hawaii. In 1991, President Corazon Aquino allowed the Marcos family to return to the Philippines to face various charges after the 1989 death of Ferdinand Marcos. Imelda Marcos was elected four times to the House of Representatives of the Philippines, and ran twice for the presidency of the Philippines but failed to garner enough votes.
She and her family gained notoriety for living a lavish lifestyle during a period of economic crisis and civil unrest in the country. She spent much of her time abroad on state visits, extravagant parties, and shopping sprees, and spent much of the State’s money on her personal art, jewelry and shoe collections – amassing 3,000 pairs of shoes. She and her husband Ferdinand hold the Guinness World Record for the Greatest Robbery of a Government. The subject of dozens of court cases around the world, she was eventually convicted of corruption charges for her activities during her term as governor of Metro Manila in 2018; the case is under appeal.
Imelda Remedios Visitacion Romualdez was born at dawn in San Miguel, Manila, on July 2, 1929. Her parents were Vicente Orestes Romuáldez, a lawyer, and his second wife, Remedios Trinidad. Imelda is the sixth of Vicente’s eleven children, and Remedios’s firstborn.
Born into the Romualdez political dynasty from the province of Leyte, Imelda grew up in a wealthy clan of devout Catholics.[page needed] She was baptized in the nearby San Miguel Church on the day after her birth.
Notable members of Imelda’s family include the clan matriarchDoña Trinidad López de Romuáldez; her uncle Norberto Romuáldez, who was a Supreme Court Associate Justice; and her younger brother Benjamin “Kokoy” Romualdez, who served as Governor of Leyte and later as an ambassador under the regime of Imelda’s husband, Ferdinand Marcos.
At the time of her birth, the Romualdezes were wealthy. However, around 1931–1932, the financial conditions of Imelda’s family began to decline.[page needed]
Imelda’s parents were separated for a time, during which Remedios worked for the nuns at the Asilo de San Vicente de Paul.[page needed] Vicente and Remedios eventually reconciled but to avoid further conflict, she and her children, including Imelda, moved to their house’s garage. In 1937 after Conchita’s birth, Remedios’s health began to fail and she died on April 7, 1938, due to double pneumonia.[page needed] In her ten years of marriage, Imelda had five siblings – Benjamin, Alita, Alfredo, Armando and Conchita.[page needed]
In the same year, 1938,[page needed] Imelda’s father gave up Manila due to his declining fortunes in his law practice and returned to Tacloban where he could support his family with a simpler lifestyle. She grew up learning the Waray language, and then learned the Tagalog language and, eventually, English.