Sunday, May 15, 2005


In addition to Nick and Michelle's posts about Ramona Diaz' Imelda, I too saw the PBS late night showing of the film. Like Nick, I feel that there could have been more explicit (and explosive!) critique of Imelda but the film is smart enough to assume that the viewer can make sense of this without much prodding. The Imelda in this film is a complex portrayal even though whenever she spoke she sounded quite simplistic (reminds me of Dubya's language sometimes). Her "new age" vocabulary could very well be what she absorbed from the 70s when Science of the Mind and "positive thinking" paradigms were all the rage in Manila.

1. Or is this simply a product of her own education under the US educational system? After all, the film opens with her rendition of Irving Berlin's God Bless America (the Philippines) and she tells of how she was taught to pledge allegiance to the US flag. Hence, her sense of being betrayed by the "parent" she was taught to trust.
2. Colonial Mimicry at its best -- especially how she learned to use her capital (Beauty!).

The rest of the film is a collage of remarks made by her allies and foes alike:
Christian Espiritu, her couturier, belatedly repents of his complicity in the making of Imelda.
Jo Ann Maglipon and Pete Lacaba's short spiel about the martial law days and illegal detention of political prisoners, human rights abuses.
Richard Holbrooke: Imelda is all about personal power, not leadership (paraphrased).
Bongbong Marcos: She has amazing instincts!

I sense that Ramona Diaz' own ambivalent feelings towards this woman is reflected in the film. But in avoiding any kind of essentialist rendition of Imelda, what opportunities were missed?

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