Watching this, I remembered when I first arrived in London back in 1989. It seemed to me at the time that I couldn't strike up a conversation without anyone mentioning Imelda Marcos - specifically her shoes. It sucked so much that I wrote a poem about it:
Now David Byrne's spending time in the Philippines making a musical about Imelda with Fatboy Slim.Small Talk
"How is Imelda Marcos?Are her shoes still on the go?"When I first came to LondonIt was all they wished to knowI tried to say that there was moreTo me than meets the eyeThat a flat brown nose and straight black hairDoes not mean I can’t ask whyThey don’t try to get to know meOr find out what I doOr say Fine Weather Isn’t It?Or ask me How Are You?I tried to talk of normal thingsLike Politics and Fashion,Burglaries, Movie Stars,Sport and TelevisionI wanted them to talk to meThe way they talked to each otherBut all that seemed to interest themWas Imelda’s collection of shoe leather.
It fascinates me to read in a Times article that the one thing Byrne has ommitted is the magic cupboard with the 3000 shoes.
... there are no references whatsoever to her infamous collection of 3,000 pairs of designer shoes, stored in a wing of the so-called Manila White House, the Malacanang Palace. “The shoes were a very big problem,” Byrne concedes. “For me it became, how do you get beyond the shoes? But the shoes weren’t discovered, along with the house full of Heinz Sandwich Spread, until after the Marcoses were airlifted out of the palace in 1986, and for me the story ends right there.”
These many years later, I've mellowed. I forgive people for mentioning Imelda's shoes.
In fact, I would actively encourage it.
Imelda's shoes are a weighty metaphor that continues to remind us of Imelda's dark side as she reinvents herself again and again with more imagination and energy than Madonna herself. It reminds us of the huge inequalities that continue to exist in Philippine society.
So, David Byrne, please mention the shoes.
Imelda's shoes would have more relevance to Filipinos than a fat album of photographs of her posing with other dictators.