|Since the previous poem from Dragonfly features Ferdinand Marcos as persona, it would probably be no surprise to you that the next poem — also a sonnetina — is spoken by Imelda Marcos. After composing these two sonnetinas I thought of them as an intertwined pair. A Bongbong Marcos poem came along later, completing what has become a trilogy of Marcos poems. ("Bongbong" is the family nickname of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. |
Background stuff you should probably know: after Ferdinand died in late 1989, Imelda requested permission from Philippine President Cory Aquino to have his body interred in the Philippines with full military honors. Aquino refused to allow Ferdinand's body on Philippine soil, citing potential problems of national security. Imelda then kept Ferdinand "on ice" (that is, refrigerated) until the day when she might be able to bury his body in the Philippines.
The immediate trigger for this poem was a Newsweek article that showcased the weird activities at the Marcos enclave in Hawaii, focusing on a birthday party Imelda threw for Ferdinand and family and friends
I made up some things here, such as the "space-age polymer coffin" and Ferdinand defrosting, though these elements might not be all that fanciful. Imelda spent a lot of money on technology and utilities keeping Ferdinand frozen; at one point in the sordid saga, Imelda had run up a $214,500 electric bill. Imelda refused to pay the bill, thus threatening a Ferdinand thaw, but it was eventually paid by a family friend.
One thing I did not make up is Ferdinand's nickname in the poem (line 12). Often in the press and in blogs, Ferdinand is called "Ferdie" (and in fact the first published version of the poem contained the phrase "dear Ferdie"), but it turns out that Ferdinand, in his desire to be as American as possible, preferred to be called "Andy." In the poem, the words "fair Andy" both preserve a sonic link with "Ferdinand" and make possible a multi-layered pun about perceived blondeness as well as imagined impartiality in his political career. Obviously neither of these could be further from the truth.
interview with Imelda by George Wayne. This interview, on the occasion of the release of The Imelda Collection, a fashion company founded by Imelda's grandson, is quite revealing about what makes Imelda tick. Check it out
The photo on the right is from a 2006 BBC article titled "Inequality on show in Filipino resort." Although she is not even mentioned in the article, Imelda is immediately recognizable as a poster child for the inequalities between rich and poor in the Philippines. The reason I've included this photo, however, is that the shoe Imelda is holding in the photo does not seem to be a shoe at all. I think it's a phone. Shades of Maxwell Smart! The parallel between "The Imelda Show" and Get Smart is simply too delicious not to point out.
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