Friday, May 20, 2011

completely imeldific

Speaking of the devil, on 26 March 2011, I invited Hot Tuna to the Livin' La Vida Imelda walking tour presented by one of my favorite Pinoys, Reproductive Health (RH) Bill advocate Carlos Celdran.

Crossing the street at the CCP Complex.
Following the leader.

The assembly area was the lobby of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). Just as the tour was about to start, Celdran stood in front of us, looked around, and seemed surprised that we were such a big group. (Kudos to the students from DLSU, by the way. Nice to see kids interested in Philippine history.) He said, "Well, I guess Imelda must be back in fashion."

On the steps of the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).
Audience participation by Hot Tuna.

Livin' La Vida Imelda was a wonderful experience, to say the least. Celdran talked about Imelda Marcos for three hours, and it was simultaneously hilarious and poignant, astonishing and not-so-surprising, entertaining and thought-provoking.

By Steve Tirona
By Steve Tirona

He said that the reason for our fascination with Imelda is because she is us-- just a simple country lass who wanted to make her mark, to show the world that she's just as good as everyone else. In that sense, she was quite successful.

Whatever you want to say about her, good or bad, you can't deny that she has an indomitable spirit. And I think that's why I like her, because she embodies never say die, try and try until you succeed, you can't keep me down, I'll be back, you'll never be rid of me, you can run but you can't hide, in your face, don't cry for me Manila!

Poster from Carlos Celdran's blog, Walk This Way.

It is my dream to meet Imelda Marcos, to curtsy before her, to call her "Madame", to sit at her feet and listen to all the bizarre things that come out of her mouth, e.g. I'm like Robin Hood. I rob the rich to make these projects come alive... not really rob. It's done with a smile.

Here's another one: I have never been a material girl. My father always told me never to love anything that cannot love you back.

Although described as a walking tour, Livin' La Vida Imelda is an easy tour because there's not much walking, actually-- only crossing the street from the CCP to the PICC. Celdran defines it as "a tour all about the Philippines in the 1970s and the tumultuous era of the Cold War, Martial Law, bell-bottom jeans, and Miss Universe. It's a little bit disco, a little bit New Society, and completely Imeldific. So come take a trippy trip through National Artist for Architecture Leandro Locsin's finest buildings as we analyze one of the most controversial periods in Philippine history as seen through the life and ambitions of the lady who defined it, Imelda Romualdez Marcos."

The price for the tour is PHP900 (US$21) per person. Bring a fan and a hanky because it can get pretty hot inside the buildings. Photography is not allowed inside the CCP, but you can take pictures inside the PICC and around the grounds of the complex. Lots of interesting Bagong Lipunan (New Society) architecture. Every red-blooded Filipino should sign up for this tour, and all our foreign guests, too.

Note: I saw Steve Tirona's photos of Imelda Marcos up close last year at the Singapore Art Museum, of all places.


  1. More than a year on, I can look back and remember March 26th 2012 as if it were yesterday, we really must try and schedule Celdran's intramuros tour, if it is half as good as the Livin' La Vida Imelda walking tour, we will be in for a real treat.
    This is the real value of a well documented blog, one can look back and appreciate how what may have appeared at the time to be a good day, was in fact one of those memories that ensure I will return annually to my second home, The Philippines.

  2. aw, that's so sweet. so looking forward to your 2013 trip to our part of the world.