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WikiLeaks: Imelda Marcos was a 'pest more than a guest' in US


For all her glamor and pomp, former First Lady Imelda Marcos was seen as "a pest" in the United States, a gatecrasher who would “invite herself” to important political events and grow furious over something as trivial as gifts, according to US diplomatic cables declassified and published by WikiLeaks. No less than then-US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger informed the US Embassy in Manila of this, through a January 31, 1976 memo where he quoted two reports on Imelda by prominent American journalist Jack Anderson on ABC's Good Morning America.   In his January 26, 1976 report, Anderson mentioned a “foreign visitor whom the State Department hates to see." "She happens to be one of the world's most glamorous women. She's the first lady of the Philippines, Imelda Marcos, a beautiful woman whose beguiling smiles charm the scowls off the world's most cantankerous leaders," he said, adding the State Department's protocol people "grit their teeth" every time Imelda shows up in the US. Regarded as "pest than a guest" "She seldom notifies them. She simply arrives unannounced. Then, she starts making difficult demands and poking her nose into delicate matters. She's come to be regarded as pest than a guest," Anderson further wrote. One could assume that Kissinger agreed with Anderson's portrayal of Imelda as he did not give any comment on Anderson's report. His cable to Manila was sent at a time when media was heavily censored in the Philippines due to the declaration of martial law by Imelda's husband, then-President Ferdinand Marcos. In his report, Anderson specifically cited an instance when Imelda "loitered" around New York City "with little to do." He said reports had it that she was waiting for Spanish dictator General Francisco Franco to die so she could attend his funeral. Meeting with the Fords An earlier memo by Kissinger said that Imelda was in Washington on November 19, 1975 to serve as a keynote speaker at the World Population Conference. She and her daughter, Imee, even had tea with Betty Ford, wife of former US President Gerald Ford, at the White House on the same day. Imelda then stayed in New York for a few more days until her November 21 flight to Madrid to attend Franco's funeral. "She likes the pomp and ceremony of such international occasions,” Anderson wrote, as shown in Kissinger's cable. “Meanwhile, she asked to be received at the White House. There was a bickering over schedules but a 45-minute tea break was arranged with Betty Ford." He said when Imelda showed up at the White House, she was held at the gate because the guards were not notified about her arrival. "She was furious,” Anderson said. “Then, President Ford neglected to drop by to greet her at the tea session. She became more furious." Anderson also said that when Imelda and Betty exchanged gifts, Imelda was "so disappointed" with her gift that she left it behind. "She was literally sputtering with rage, according to my sources, when she [flew] back to the Philippines," he said. Aside from this, Kissinger also quoted a January 30, 1976 report by Anderson about how the Marcos family and their "rich friends" bought all the copies of the Cosmopolitan magazine issue in the Philippines, which listed Imelda as one of the 10 richest women in the world. "Now, this is quite an achievement for a working girl who was an airline stewardess only a few years ago. Then she married Ferdinand Marcos and he became president of the Philippines. Well, their sudden rise to riches is not a story they want to advertise in the Philippines. They didn't want to censure Cosmopolitan magazine. That would have attracted attention to the story and would have led to bad, world-wide publicity," he said. Gatecrasher? Other instances of Imelda's alleged misbehavior at international events were also mentioned in other diplomatic cables. A US Embassy cable dated April 30, 1974 mentioned Imelda's "grandstanding" in Hong Kong when she commented about the relationship between China and the Philippines. Another cable dated October 25, 1974 also hinted how then-US Ambassador to the Philippines William Sullivan disliked Imelda's visits to the US. He said Imelda has "all sorts of interests [regarding her visits] which are far from reconciled." "We are doing nothing at this end to stimulate hopes for meeting with [the] President, and not he will be out of [the] country for [a] good portion of her visit," Sullivan said of that specific visit. A December 23, 1976 cable also quoted Sullivan as warning the US State Department about Imelda's claim that she was invited to the inauguration of then newly elected US President Jimmy Carter. "It is conceivable that [the] invitation story may have surfaced [in Philippine media] in expectation [that the] US government would be reluctant [to] embarrass Mrs. Marcos if she insisted on attending [the] inauguration," he said. Sullivan also said that it should be recalled how Imelda "attempted to invite herself" to the inauguration of former US President Richard Nixon in 1968 and to the dedication of the Sydney Opera House "where she made [an] effort to upstage the Queen." — KBK, GMA News