Philippine Social Sciences Review, Vol 60, No 1

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Ang Imeldific: Representasyon at Kapangyarihan sa Sto. Niño Shrine sa Lungsod ng Tacloban

Michael Charleston B. Chua*

Abstract


The paper is a reflection on the meaning of the Sto. Niño Shrine (Romualdez Museum) in Tacloban City, Leyte, the mansion Imelda Marcos ordered built in the early 1980s. Using Kapanahong Kasaysayan (the writing of Phiippine contemporaneous history as different from contemporary history and investigative journalism as defined by the West), the reflections will be corroborated with data from documents, biographies and statements of people close to the first lady, including the author’s interview with Madam Marcos herself, and will be contextualized to Philippine history and culture. According to Carmen Pedrosa, Imelda Marcos never lived in the mansion; it was “meant only to be viewed.” The house cum museum reflects the official representation of her past and her role as mother of the country. The design of the house and the many objects collected the world over, not only shows the great wealth and power that she gained, but also her claim of foreign and aristocratic origins. The objects also convey a representation of the first lady that she wanted to make her people and the world believe: That she was born and destined to lead. It will be observed that she wanted to show an image of herself just like the ancient Filipino Babaylan—narrator of the people’s story, healer of physical and social ills, spiritual leader of the people—the bearer of “ginhawa.” In the end, whatever representation a personality or an institution desires to ingrain in the national memory through text or concretely, it is the experience and socialization of the individual which will determine his or her image of that historical figure. The individual has the prerogative not to believe such a fabricated image, especially if it does not square with one’s experience of history.


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* Lecturer at the Department of History at De La Salle University Manila. Email: xiaoking_beatles@yahoo.com

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