Her husband presided over the Philippines for 36 years, amassing a fortune that allowed Imelda Marcos to buy haute couture in bulk.
When President Ferdinand Marcos was overthrown and fled the country in 1986, TV crews entered the Malacanang Palace and broadcast images of unforgettable opulence: jumbo cruets of Chanel perfume, closets crammed with mink and, more famously, shoes.
After the death of her husband in 1989, Imelda began an astonishing comeback. She returned to Manila in 1992. In 1995, she was even elected to the Filipino Congress.
Many Filipinos remember Imelda for her philanthropy. At the height of her husband's power, Imelda built hospitals and dispensed other charity. Many voters were (and are) still proud of the glamour she brought to the Philippines - dancing with President Johnson at the White House, for instance) But her campaign for the presidency in 1998 failed.
Today, "the Rose of Tacloban" lives quietly in Manila; her old seat in Congress is occupied by her daughter, Imee.
Last February, Imelda opened a shoe museum in Marikina with the 1,220 pairs she had left behind. "They went into my closets looking for skeletons," she told the Associated Press at the museum's inauguration, "but ... all they found were shoes, beautiful shoes."
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