Although she said she still brimmed with energy, her face was puffy and a crew of nurses trailed her to check her blood sugar levels. Bodyguards stood close by when she alighted from her van or the stairs. Talks with journalists strayed into the legacy she will leave behind, and she mentioned that she had decided her epitaph would read: “Here lies love.”
Marcos said she would not step down as long as she had energy.
“If God will bless me with good health, as long as I’m alive and I’m strong, I’m going to give it all to the Filipino people,” she said.
When she eventually bows out of politics, her children will carry on. Her eldest daughter, Imee, a former member of Congress, is seeking re-election as governor of Ilocos Norte, her campaign posters pasted side by side with her mother’s.
The Marcoses are among the most prominent of at least 250 political dynasties or families that have monopolized power across the Philippines. Such dynasties are prohibited under the 1987 constitution, but Congress — long controlled by members of powerful clans targeted by the constitutional ban — has failed to pass the law needed to define and enforce the provision.
The current president, Benigno Aquino III, is part of one such dynasty.
Critics worry that a single family’s stranglehold on different levels of government could stymie checks against abuses and corruption. A widely cited example is the 2009 massacre of 58 people, including 32 media workers, in an ambush blamed on rivalry between powerful clans in southern Maguindanao province.
But Imelda Marcos argued that candidates, whether coming from one family or not, could only rise to power if they were given a mandate by voters.
“If some families have a record of great service ... let it be,” she said. “In the end, it’s up to the people.”