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Imelda's souvenirs

How many pairs of shoes does the first lady of a country really need?

Women who love shoes - and there can't be many who don't - will have read with interest the report, in The National yesterday, about Imelda Marcos's legendary collection of footwear.

The former first lady of the Philippines owned well more than 2,000 pair of shoes before she and her husband Ferdinand Marcos had to leave the country in haste during a popular revolt in 1986. On Sunday, museum officials in Manila admitted that many of the 1,220 pairs of shoes Mrs Marcos abandoned are deteriorating rapidly, afflicted by termites, humidity, mould and poor storage.

There wasn't much time to pack in '86, although Filipino officials say hundreds of millions of dollars are still missing. The Marcos family was generous to itself, and not only in the matter of footwear.

Ferdinand Marcos died in 1989 and Imelda, now 83, is back in the country and a member of Parliament, though still controversial and facing a number of corruption cases from the 1980s.

Fortunately, if that's the word, another 800 pairs of her shoes, well preserved, are on display in a museum. We wonder if the lady herself ever slips in to visit her old possessions. Does she yearn again for her good old days, or does she reflect that she and her husband should have done things differently? How many pairs of shoes, after all, are enough?

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