Magazine Sparks Fury With Philippines Ex-First Lady Pics

Story BySimon GloverSub EditorJoseph GolderAgencyAsia Wire Report

Video Credit: AsiaWire/STAIL Philippines

An online fashion magazine has sparked outrage in the Philippines with a cover photoshoot inspired by notorious former First Lady Imelda Marcos and her infamous love of shoes.

Teenage model and actress Bianca Umali, 19, plays the part of Marcos and is seen lying on a bed surrounded by designer shoes in a video featured on the cover of the magazine.

Marcos, 89, was the wife of the late president Ferdinand Marcos, and famous for her lavish lifestyle at a time of economic crisis and for owning 1,000 pairs of shoes. 

Pictures Credit: AsiaWire & AsiaWire/STAIL Philippines

The couple held a Guinness World Record for the largest ever theft from a government after they were accused of embezzling the equivalent of up to 569.5 million GBP in the 1970s and 80s.

Editors of say they knew the feature – entitled ‘The Embellished Life. An Icon Reimagined’ – would cause offence but decided to go with their gut instinct.

“Some people thought it was a huge risk; the idea of romanticizing excess, they warned, may offend readers. Others thought it was a bold move whose time had come,” the magazine’s editor wrote.

“This issue is a reimagining of all things Imelda — her love for beauty and eye for fashion. Sure, you can say a bunch of things about her but you can’t deny her impeccable taste in style.”

However, the feature prompted shock and outrage in the Philippines where Imelda Marcos is a notorious figure for her conspicuous consumption at a time of widespread poverty and civil unrest.

Netizen ‘paradoxerweise’ commented: “Were you guys aiming for tacky? Because if so, good job Stail! You did that, the concept itself is disgusting but the execution was pretty bad on top of that…”

‘PB RH’ added: “You’re praising a woman who committed plunder and mass murder along with her husband? Her clothing was paid off of stolen tax money. You’re magazine is disgusting.”

‘Sosyolohija’ said: “Imelda’s ‘impeccable taste in style’ is made possible by spending money she OWES to the Filipino people. To praise her style without condemning her billions worth of plunder is an ignorant act that promotes corruption and historical forgetting.”

And ‘patchvalena’ noted: “This is the glorification of unconscionable and disgusting extravagance purchased with the lives and freedoms of the Filipino people. Y’all are idiots @stail_ph.”

Mrs Marcos was First Lady of the Philippines for 21 years, during which time she and her husband amassed a vast fortune of allegedly ill-gotten wealth, most of which has never been recovered.

They were unseated and forced into exile following the People Power Revolution of 1986. But President Corazon Aquino allowed Mrs Marcos and her family to return in 1991 after the death of her husband.

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