A lady’s suite of rooms

The whole world was scandalized in the morning of 26 February 1986 when the doors of the Malacanang palace — shut for 21 years except to the Marcos privileged —  were finally opened and the rabble at last saw the supposed excesses of the Marcos regime…

Like the Jacobins and the Bolsheviks before them, the whole world gawked at the spacious bedroom, the practical bathroom, and the commodious storage room of the latter-day La Reine Marie Antoinette and Empress Alexandra, the deposed First Lady, Madame Imelda Romualdez-Marcos.

I wasn’t surprised.  That’s just how grand ladies are supposed to live, after all.  There was nothing spectacular about Madame Marcos’ suite:  The bedroom was nowhere as splendid as the Chambre de la Reine at the Chateau de Versailles; the bathroom was not as nice as those of the suites of the Plaza Athenee in Paris; and the storage room was a banal affair compared to the Rothschilds’ storage rooms at the Chateau de Ferrieres and at the Hotel Lambert.  I didn’t understand what the worldwide fuss was all about.

In Imperial Russia before the Revolution, the great families like the Sheremetievs, the Golitsyns, and the Youssoupovs lived in as grand, if not grander, style than the imperial Romanovs themselves…

In Manila before the “1986 Revolution,” the privileged “Blue Ladies” of the Marcos “New Society” lived in grand style.  But none of them — by a long shot — ever rivaled the imperial style in which Madame Imelda Romualdez-Marcos lived out her days as the Queen of the Philippines, and indeed, of all Asia…

But one does not need to be Madame Imelda Romualdez-Marcos to live elegantly and even a tad excessively…


She had angst.

Her sister had taken all of her mother’s magnificent jewelry:  suite upon suite of high quality diamonds, pearls, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires.  She had also taken all of the heirloom ivory “santos” which populated their 18th century silver altar at home.  Her brother had taken all of her father’s paintings:  Manansalas, Botongs, Amorsolos, de la Rosas, Hidalgos, and Lunas.  He had also taken all the expensive Georgian sterling silver which her parents had purchased, every now and then, in London.

And she gathered what the two had left behind, which was still considerable.  But it was their selfish gestures which galled her forever.

In retaliation and compensation, she surrounded herself with the things that she felt had eluded her… and in time she had amassed more than what her parents had originally possessed…




  1. socialclimber said,

    July 31, 2007 at 2:54 pm

    The Olot Mansion is different from the Santo Nino Shrine.

  2. April 14, 2007 at 5:58 pm

    toto gonzales wrote:

    I tend to agree with you. “The Chateau de Olot” was something else…


    “The Chateau de Olot’ indeed. Let me tell you a little something about that which NOT many people, even so-called in-the-know Manilas know.

    It was near the end of 1966. The Ilocano king and his Waray queen were in power for about a year. The honeymoon with the guliible electorate was still in full flower. We were in Baguio to celebrate the New Year at the Country Club where toute Manille goes during such holidays. Their majesties weren’t in town. Nonetheless, the (was it called the WHite House?) was made avaiable for New Year’s Eve’s festivities to the ‘right’ people.

    Anyway, around 10:00 pm December 31st, a hush settled on the party. In muted tones, word quickly went around the scented cosmopolitan Manila set (of course, quite a few of them were families of the Blue Ladies) that the architects of the Olot-Mansion-by-the-sea were roused from their beds the night before by agents of the Palace (or known as tonton macoute in other cultures) because duplicate blurprints of the Olot manse were needed en seguida! The architects, BTW, were NOT the Locsins nor the Antonio sisters.

    It turns out that some 48 hours before, some local enemies of the Madam and her family, BURNED down the new Roma*ldez “ancestral” home. *rolls eyes* And before word spread nationally, it was decided to recreate it immediately, and on a 24-hour construction sked. Nothing untoward was done to the Cosco*luelas other than the old plans were used again without renewed remuneration. And I don’t think the Cosco*luelas were awarded another prestige IRM project (I could be wrong…)

    But as early as that first year of the Middle Kingdom Marcos years, the parvenu rulers had already some enemies gutsy enough to take action against the ghastly new President and his family. It is not known if the perpetrators (GOOD FOR THEM!) were ever sought, found and/or punished. That remains one of the many open-ended stories of the Macoy years.

    And finally, with the, I guess, the 1-week recreation of Olot II, “sprouting” overnight green grass via Sherwin Williams paint was not far behind as I think happened during Princess Margaret and party’s visit to the so-called Leyte Sea manse. One of the lady guests picked up this green paint on the hem of her white pantsuit while walking the grounds. In 1974, at the first Miss Universe in Manila, it was decided NOT to bring the gals there. Too many similar things could’ve gone wrong — and how those beauty queen commoners could talk!! 🙂 🙂

    Of course, the English royal party kept it quiet………….NOT!! LOL!!

    Ever discreet,

  3. myles g. said,

    January 12, 2007 at 8:33 pm

    Oops. Missed this thread. For the latest Follies of IRM, go to the “Sarrat” thread, and see comments #s 64 and 65 re la Madame’s latest interview in VANITY FAIR.

    A hoot, as always.


  4. myles g. said,

    December 27, 2006 at 11:13 pm

    uhmm, norberto…r u sure you’re already 32? I am having a little difficulty accepting the tenor of your comments above — if serious. r u? I would like to give you the benefit of doubt — but how can you condone the robber baron lifestyle of that parvenu lunatic, *melda? I mean they robbed a nation blind to support their f*cking lifestyle and utterly sick, insatiable ambitions?

  5. n.o.lopez said,

    December 24, 2006 at 11:32 pm

    that february revolution as described by james hamilton-patersen is very unique compared to other revolutions, in fact he doesn’t believe it was! it was too concentrated in manila and just the pure campy nature of it all: the singing, giving flowers… oh horrid…

    yes, you’re right. what do they expect of madame marcos’ bedroom??? like a dingy flat??? my word, when they opened her bedroom, wardrobe, it was the grandest gesture of unkindness — clothes, personal items even brassieres weren’t spared, shown all over the world. will you show your soul to everybody…???

    it’s the quintessential tragedy of filipinos, don’t you think?? the “masa” attitude. i was aghast at the impertinence: at the sight of those “descamisados” jumping, shouting and rampaging through the belongings of the royal family in the palace. they should have been bulldozed (like what madame marcos did to some of the unsightly: bulldozing them, sweeping them out of her sight! “pour the cement!” i do find that unkind quote [ attributed ] to her very, very funny. sawwwrryyy.)

    it’s the filipinos’ inability to accept one’s grand lifestyle… madame marcos was definitely entitled to it. whether negatively or positively, she put us in the map!!!

    n o lopez

  6. December 14, 2006 at 1:50 pm


    I tend to agree with you. “The Chateau de Olot” was something else…

    No, I haven’t been to the Chritada Palace in Thailand.

    It’s a pity that most of the postwar mansions in Santa Mesa heights have already disappeared, many of them works by distinguished architects Juan Nakpil, Angel Nakpil, Fernando Ocampo, Luis Ma. Araneta, et. al.. The only intact survivors seem to be the Tomasa Picache mansion [ originally the Sarangaya ] along Dapitan street, the Venegas mansion along Santo Domingo avenue, and “FranLour” the 11,000 m2 Francisco Kho spread along Biak-na-Bato street. Currently the most splendid residence there is the block-long spread of uberrich taipan Lucio “El Capitan” Tan, one side of which also faces Biak-na-Bato street.

    Toto Gonzalez

  7. xxxx said,

    December 14, 2006 at 3:00 am

    That is true. You know I find the Santo Nino Shrine in Leyte to be far more opulent than the presidential palace. It would have been more accurate to describe her room which she barely used in Tacloban to be devastatingly opulent.

    Have you seen the Chritada Palace? In the south of Thailand. That Palace is where King Bhumibol specifically resides in…and it looks like just one of those old Santa Mesa Heights mansions on Dapitan, Artiaga, Banawe and P. Florentino…near the Santo Domingo Church/ Quezon Avenue.

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