March 2009
Santo Niño Shrine


Ok, the following is one example of the many excesses of Imelda Marcos, who rose from a country girl via Miss Manila to the First Lady of the Philippines. A career many poor Filipinas are dreaming of: winning a Miss Something Title (no other country has so many Beauty Pageants) and then get either a chance in the media and/or marry money or at least into the better society.

Imelda married the politician Ferdinand Marcos in 1954, who became the president of the Philippines from 1965 to 1972, when he declared martial law and continued to rule as a dictator until 1986, during which he amassed a fortune through rampant corruption and hid it mostly in foreign bank accounts.

Imelda wasn't much up to hiding money but more so rather spending it. She had been convicted once of having misappropriated public funds but the conviction was overturned on a second appeal.

But it should have been obvious for everybody with a common sense (but unfortunately common sense is not so common) that the money she spent for her many extravagances weren't appropriate. In order not to accuse her of any illegal deeds, just assume that she built the People's Center (with the Library), from public funds, and the Santo Niño Shrine (her "Palace") from her husband's corruption money. And that corruption money even was wasted, because that "Shrine" was never used, not even a day during the last five years of the Marcos' reign.

But maybe she felt some guilt by not only calling it a shrine but also putting in a shrine: a façade for a public place to worship the holy Jesus child, but it was thought only for her personal use. Only after the ousting of her husband it became a public place and a museum, called now the Santo Niño Shrine and Heritage Center, but it has more become a place for worshipping Imelda and Ferdinand.

Click the small picture to get it enlarged

Santo Niño Shrine building Santo Niño Shrine altar
Let's go inside but you may only walk around with a guide, who charges 3.30 Euro (for up to five people and half an hour tour). The only religious theme in the Santo Niño Shrine, beside Imelda's "chapel", are two very beautiful mosaics, depicting Jesus and Maria.
Holy Jesus Holy Maria
The other theme, however, is about Imelda's self-admiration and actually should be called Imelda Shrine. Paintings and photos of her are everywhere, in almost every room.
Holy Imelda Holy family
Also, Imelda had allocated more space for her bedroom and bathroom than for her husband. She had the king-size bed, her husband a queen-size bed. Her desk was larger than her husband's. It seemed that she was the king (President) and he was only the queen (First Gentleman).
The holy bedroom of Imelda Now we desecrate it
Her bathroom Her desk
Ferdinant Marcos' bed Ferdinand Marcos' desk
Imelda also thought of her children. A bedroom each for her two daughters and her son. Though the son's bedroom was not worth a photo.
Daughter One bedroom Daughter Two bedroom
I wonder whether her husband took part in the planning of all this. He may not even have seen his bedroom, not to mention the whole building, after it was finished. He may also have wondered why only some photos of him are standing or hanging around. He also was hardly shown in any of the many dioramas depicting the good deeds of a statesman, but of the First Lady. Whatever. He may also have complained about his smaller bedroom and thus never slept there. They, of course, still had their presidential palace "Malacañang" in Manila.
Queen Imelda ! King Ferdinand ?
Flaunting all the good deeds
Showing all she did meet Helping the sick and the poor
And then it comes. The whole place is stuffed with treasures from all over the world acquired by Imelda's many shopping sprees. Though, there are also some gifts she and her husband received during their state visits. Now, take a look yourself.
She actually helped herself much more by spending all the people's money for her splendor
Helping sick kids by selling this jade child sculpture? No Furnishing schools by selling these solid silver chairs? No
I hardly couldn't lift that silver chair Why couldn't it just be a bamboo chair
Local bamboo can be fantastic Be my guest and all should sit
Ok, this place was not only designed to be just a domicile for the family, but also a place to invite and entertain many guests, including state guests.
The gala dinner will be served soon Then everybody is welcomed to the ball room
And it's a place where the guests can stay overnight in one of the many guest rooms, each differently designed, furnished and decorated. But nobody did get the chance to sleep there and admire Imelda displayed in her dioramas.
One Chinese guest room Another Chinese guest room
The Bamboo guest room The Coconut guest room
The Pottery guest room The Carving guest room
The Nara guest room The Shell guest room
Want to sleep in the Gecko Guest Room? Maybe some guests are bringing gifts like this
Now we want to sit down in contem-plation Hey Joy, don't get from Imelda any inspiration

She didn't say: "I shall return" to this place, but she was allowed to return to the Philippines in 1991 after her husband died in exile in Hawaii in 1989. Even after she became a member of the House of Representative representing her home province of Leyte, she didn't move to her Santo Niño Shrine, because it was confiscated by the government in the meantime. Now she lives someplace else.

She did run for President herself in 1992 but received only few votes. I just read that she wants to try it again in 2010, if one of her favorite candidates doesn't. So you see, she still has enough self-esteem. And she is still revered by many, especially by the people of Leyte.

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