MANILA, Philippines -- Malacañang on Monday downplayed the relevance of the shoes, gowns and other accessories of former First Lady Imelda Marcos in history, but promised to have them restored.
In a statement sent to reporters, Presidential Communications Undersecretary Manolo Quezon said, "The boxes hold no historical significance, except [for some] of the clothes made by Joe Salazar, Pitoy Moreno, and other designers.”
An Associated Press story came out on Sunday, saying that termites, neglect and storms have ruined Imelda’s collection.
The family of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos fled the country in 1986 after being ousted from office via a “People Power.” They left hundreds of their possessions, including Imelda’s shoes and pieces of jewelry, which have become a separate subject of many books in history.
In a separate statement, the Director’s Office of the National Museum said a large number of boxes containing the shoes and clothes were transferred to its central office from Malacanang Palace in early 2010.
“It is well known that articles of clothing had already suffered serious neglect during this 24-year period, during which no plan had been formulated regarding their final disposition,” it said.
It was only then that the boxes were inventoried, sealed and taken to a secure room on the fourth floor of the Old Legislative Building.
“The said room met the basic requirements for the storage of artifacts in terms of security, dryness and non-exposure to light. The room was included in the regular fumigations for termites and other insects that are annually conducted by the National Museum in all its buildings,” it said.
The boxes remained there while process was ongoing to determine “whether or not certain items, such as Filipino-designed gowns of Mrs. Imelda Marcos, could form the core of a fashion collection -- a new area for the Museum -- but this has yet to be even formally proposed given the as yet politically sensitive nature of their provenance.”
However, the room suffered serious leaks during the heavy rains brought about by the monsoon last August 6 to 8.
The leaks came to the attention of the Museum staff in the middle of the night of August 6. Thereafter, the boxes were immediately moved.
“As soon as government operations normalized by August 9, and in the weeks since then, assessment and conservation of damaged items has been consistently performed,” it said.
The National Museum said it will do its best to carry out its responsibilities in the safekeeping of items in its custody.
“Indeed, the institution hopes to prevent future such occurrences by prioritizing needed structural repairs on the fourth (top) floor of the Old Legislative Building. Similar repairs have already been undertaken on the lower three floors, which house the galleries and storage of the national fine arts and archaeological collections, which were unaffected by the heavy rains,” it said.