Imelda Marcos

First Lady of the Philippines, 1965–1986

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The image above is a spiritual portrait, or Groja.[1] depicting the personality of Imelda Marcos, the wife of Ferdinand Marcos, President of the Philipines for over twenty years. For almost half of this time the country was under martial law, making Ferdinand essentially its dictator.

Imelda was famous for her large collection of shoes, made more exceptional by the poverty in which much of the country lived. Does her spiritual portrait hold some explanation for this unseemly behavior?

Deep and Passionate

This image shows Imelda has fairly strong preferences. In particular, she's not very logical and prone to seeing many possibilities.

The Blue reflects Imelda's tendency to give more weight to ideas than to facts, and the Red shows she has a tendency to be more personal than objective. Like her spiritual portrait, she is deep — there's more to her than meets the eye — and passionate about life.

Right away this image makes it clear greed is Imelda's motive, nor is she interested in the superficial. If greed or simply looking good were her goals, she'd be more logical and pragmatic, and her image would contain much more Yellow and Green.

Beauty Is God and Love Made Real

As First Lady of the Philippines, Imelda Marcos felt it was her duty to be beautiful. She shows how emphasizing beauty — which may seems like a totally surface quality — is quite compatible with being deeply idealistic.

From Imelda's idealistic viewpoint beauty, god, and love are all closely related:

It is not expensive to be beautiful. It takes only a little effort, to be presentable, and beautiful. But, it takes some effort. And E for effort. And unfortunately, people think of beauty as luxury; of beauty as frivolity, no! Or extravagant. Beauty is a discipline. Beauty is art, is harmony, in the ideological sense. And in the theological sense beauty is god and love made real.
 — From Imelda: Power, Myth, Illusion, 2003.

Given Imelda's point of view, it's easy to see how her obsession with appearances in general and shoes[2] in particular is based on idealism. As far as she is concerned, her infatuation is based not on selfishness, but on her concern for the poor, little people  in her country.

Circles of Life

The movie about her life, Imelda: Power, Myth, Illusion, was directed by Ramona S. Diaz and is an enjoyable and enlightening view of her before, during, and after her time as First Lady of the Philippines. It includes a scene in which she reads from her book — a book she introduces with a bit of humility.

In the movie she reads the following quote from her book, Circles of Life 

All the things that you see around you, they become the elements of your infrastructure. But they can only be good as they are beautiful, and beauty is in the landscape of your heart. Do not leave it there. Paint it, shape it, build it, let it flow from within you, in everything you do or touch. It is easy to be beautiful, because it is magical.
 — Quoted from Circles of Life by Imelda Marcos in the movie Imelda: Power, Myth, Illusion, 2003.

Given Imelda's gentle and caring nature, it's difficult to conceive how her husband ruled the Philippines as a dictator for almost a decade. Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in 1972. It lasted for almost ten years — a time during which he faced accusations of human rights abuses such as abductions, torture, and murder.

Imelda Marcos and Eleanor Roosevelt

It is interesting to compare the spiritual portraits of Imelda Marcos and Eleanor Roosevelt, because both were the wives of men who were very powerful in the mid-twentieth century.

Imelda was the First Lady of the Philippines from 1965-1986, and Eleanor was the First Lady of the United States from 1933-1945.

Looking past the superficial similarities — the shared Blue and Red — it's clear Eleanor is much more logical and decisive than Imelda.

The Green gives Eleanor's image more a more substantive feeling than Imelda's[3].

Imelda Marcos
Eleanor Roosevelt

Although each of us interprets visual information in our own way — because beauty is in the eye of the beholder — it's easy for me to see how one First Lady would be content with the idea that being beautiful would help the poor, while the other would want to actually change things.

Now that I have a suitable answer to my question about Imelda's shoes collection, I wonder whether others see the subtle contrast between these two images the same way I do.


Imelda Marcos is a colorful individual who is also surprisingly deep, and her spiritual portrait reflects that. It's good that much of the movie about her features her talking about herself in her own words — so that viewers do not have to rely on a third party description of this incredible and very unique woman!

See More at

This article is excerpted from the original story about Imelda Marcos on That story is a bit longer than this one, so if you are interested in more, by all means check it out.


This spiritual portrait is based on the movie about Imelda Marcos' life, Imelda: Power, Myth, Illusion, directed by Ramona S. Diaz. I thoroughly enjoyed this watching movie and learning about Imelda's motivations — and hope you will enjoy it as well — but realize it is probably not for everyone.

  • 1  A spiritual portrait is an image representing the personality of a person, based on their answers to a questionnaire. These images are also called GROJAs — for Graphical Representations of Jungian Archetypes. Learn all about these images on the About page at

  • 2  Imelda is frequently credited with saying I did not have three thousand pairs of shoes, I had one thousand and sixty.

  • 3  At least, that's how I see them!