MANILA – Former Philippine First Lady Imelda Marcos, who gained worldwide fame for her flamboyant and extravagant collection of 2,700 pairs of shoes when her husband, the late Ferdinand Marcos, was president from 1965 to 1986, said she s amazed Japan due to its rise to Japan. greatness despite its many limitations.
“If there’s a culture of a country that I sincerely admire and teach other countries, it’s Japan,” Marcos, 83, said over a sushi lunch. Saturday at her chic condominium in downtown Manila.
âI am a big believer in Japan. It’s so sophisticated, âshe said.
âJapan has so much to show in terms of leadership. Your national anthem says: “We are only a rock, we have nothing, but moss”. So (the Japanese people) must eat from the sea. But look at Japan, (it is among) the first (members) of the G-7, âMarcos said after singing a few lines from the Japanese national anthem, which ‘she learned during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines in the early 1940s.
âAnd then, this nuclear (disaster) after the tsunami. They turned around. I salute them. The Japanese are something, âshe added, referring to the disasters of March 11, 2011.
Marcos noted that Japan has also always been ahead in terms of technology while being deprived of natural resources.
Sharing for the first time with the public her personal experience and opinions about the people and culture of Japan, Marcos retraced her high esteem for the country which awarded her a Peace Prize in 1975 to a meeting she had had with a Japanese couple when she was still a young girl living in Tacloban, Leyte, in the central Philippines.
Marcos said that before the outbreak of World War II in the Philippines, she got to know the Ono couple, who were transferred there from the southern island of Mindanao.
âI loved the Japanese couple who loved me very much, gave me rice and kissed me like I was their own child, because I was an orphan so early,â said Marcos, who had 8 years old when her mother died of illness while still residing in the capital, Manila.
The death of his mother in 1938 prompted his father to bring the whole family to Tacloban and settle there.
âWhen I was 10 years old during the war, Ms. Ono would kiss me. She was like a mother to me. When Mr. and Mrs. Ono died in the war, it was as if my parents had been killed, âshe said.
Marcos said the Ono couple were “cruelly killed” during the war and their remains were left by the sea. “Whenever I remember it, I choke on my emotions because I love Mr. and Mrs. Ono, âshe said.
While she was happy that the Americans freed the Philippines from Japanese control around this time, Marcos said she also felt sad over the death of “someone who was nice to me”, even though she was he “was supposed to be the enemy of my country.”
She also did not express the slightest hint of anger towards the Japanese soldiers in Tacloban at this time, recalling that, “when they have a program they would call me the little actress, the little singer, so I would sing for them. Japanese soldiers “.
âDuring the war I had no enemies. I loved them all – the Japanese soldiers, because they blackmailed me and they clapped every time I sang, and the Americans too, âMarcos said.
Fast forward to when she and her husband would become the most powerful couple in the country, establishing “peace and friendship” and cooperation with Japan was one of their first activities, she said. .
Marcos claimed that even when her husband was still a member of the Philippine Congress, they had already formed a good friendship with then Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi.
And during their reign for more than two decades, the couple visited Japan several times and shared moments with Emperor Hirohito and Prime Ministers Eisaku Sato, Masayoshi Ohira and Yasuhiro Nakasone.
âThe Emperor greeted us at the airport in great appreciation for the peace and friendship we have offered to Japan,â Marcos recalled. Photos of this encounter remain on display inside his condominium and in his father’s ancestral home in Manila.
She claimed that Empress Nagako would personally invite her to Japan and even gave her a book on calligraphy that she herself made.
âDuring the shooting, the two (Emperor Showa and Empress Nagako) said, ‘Imelda, you stay in the middle because you are our queen. Then we’ll sing together, ârecalls Marcos. She then sang two Japanese folk songs that she had learned from the Ono couple and the Japanese soldiers when she was still young.
Marcos revealed that it was also during her husband’s presidency that a large Japanese auto company started operating in the Philippines.
During her travels in Japan, Marcos said she would buy bonsai trees, one of which she said grew taller than her after two years due to the richer soil in the Philippines.
âBonsai shows that small is beautiful too,â she said, echoing her theories on âthe true, the good and the beautifulâ.
She has the same fascination with ikebana, haiku, traditional Japanese costumes (which she describes as “very beautiful and ornate”), food, and the value of the Japanese people to be respectful.
âWe love to eat sushi and sashimi. In Japan, we eat fish and seafood. There is no wood to cook it. So you have sushi. And look, the Japanese have a longer life because they don’t kill the food they eat. They don’t eat in the cemetery. So there are more centenarians in Japan than anywhere else, âMarcos said.
She said the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011 in Japan made her cry, but at the same time, she raised her level of respect for the Japanese people for their resilience.
âYou salute them because it brings out the best in human beings to survive despite all natural calamities,â she said.
Marcos said she was collaborating with a certain group in Japan for the development of deuterium as an energy source.
Not giving details on this at the moment, she simply says, âI am working not only for tomorrow, but for infinity.
Marcos, who is running for another term in Congress in May, said she remains strong and active to this day despite everything that happened to her and her family after the 1986 People’s Power Revolution because she thinks she still has a role to play in Filipino society.
âMaybe the Lord keeps me alive to show the world that if we are on the side of the truth, no one can touch you, even the government superpowers,â she said.
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interview, Imelda Marcos