Volcano Child - A YA Novel in Progress by Candy Gourlay
Two weeks ago, Mouse decided to dig his way to London.

03 December 2006

Who’s afraid of Imelda Marcos? I am

Nowhere in Volcano Child do I name the country in which the story is set. Why? Because of Imelda Marcos.

Article in the Financial Times about Imelda's recent move into the jewellery businessLet me explain.

If you’d never heard of the Philippines and you read my book, your own wonderful mind will colour detail into the story and the setting will be a parallel world which could be anywhere, informed only by the universality of its themes.

If I were to declare that Volcano Child was set in the Philippines, this is what many people are likely to say: "The Philippines? Isn’t that where Imelda Marcos comes from? The one with the shoes?"

Asia Magazine cover at the time of the People Power revolutionIn 1986, Imelda Marcos and her dictator husband Ferdinand fled their palace in Manila when it became clear that they had lost their hold on millions of Filipinos protesting peacefully in the streets. This was called the People Power revolution. When journalists and protesters entered the palace, they found that Imelda Marcos had left a collection of 3,000 shoes (US size 8 1/2) in her haste to leave. Pictured above left is Asia Magazine's cover story at the time of the revolution.

The shoes were an appropriate metaphor for their corrupt regime. Unfortunately as the years passed, the image remained stuck fast in the world’s consciousness. Mention the Philippines now and the 3,000 shoes immediately springs to mind.

Recently, Mrs. Marcos launched her own jewellery collection. It made headline news everywhere — pictured above is the feature the Weekend Financial Times ran about the collection. If you really, really want to read it, here’s a pdf of the press cutting, if you’ve got the bandwidth to download it.

It is very amusing, that one woman’s ridiculous obsession continues to attract so much international attention — nice or nasty, does it matter? She thrives on the notoriety, going as far as to open a museum of her famous shoe collection.

But spare a thought for an entire nation that continues to be represented — at least in the eyes of the rest of the world — by an ambassador of such dubious merit.


How is Imelda Marcos?
Are her shoes still on the go?
When I first came to London
It was all they wished to know
I tried to say that there was more
To me than meets the eye
That a flat brown nose and straight black hair
Does not mean I can’t ask why
They don’t try to get to know me
Or find out what I do
Or say Fine Weather Isn’t It
Or ask me How Are You
I tried to talk of normal things
Like Politics and Fashion,
Burglaries, Movie Stars,
Sport and Television
I wanted them to talk to me
The way they talked to each other
But all that seemed to interest them
Was Imelda’s collection of shoe leather.

Small Talk © 1989 by Candy Gourlay

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Candy, did you know David Byrne (the cult pop singer/ composer of "Talking Heads" fame) has written an opera about Imelda? Great blog!- Malu DA

Friday, 08 December, 2006  
Anonymous Candy said...

oh yes, i did hear about david byrne's project - was trying this very morning to find an excerpt online - if anyone knows a link, please let me know! david byrne's into powerpoint art these days - i was hoping he did something on imelda i could link to but couldn't find anything. thanks for commenting! candy

Friday, 08 December, 2006  

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