Lifestyle & Belief

WikiLeaks' cables suggest Imelda Marcos forced generals to dress in drag


President Ferdinand Marcos was dictator of the Philippines from 1965 to 1986.


Romeo Gacad

BANGKOK, Thailand — The wife of former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos forced his leading military chiefs to dress in drag for a party, according to a report written by the former US ambassador to the Philippines. The report has been made public by newly-released WikiLeaks cables. 

In 1973, US ambassador William Sullivan reported to Washington that Marcos had a two-day birthday party. The highlight? Marcos' wife Imelda forced military chiefs to dance while wearing "garish female attire,"  Agence France Presse reported.  

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"In general, every aspect of the occasion was too much, too long, and in questionable taste," Sullivan wrote.

Imelda Marcos, accused in the cables of orchestrating the bizarre generals-in-drag show, is perhaps best known for her extravagance.

In the years since her husband's 1989 passing, she has attempted to restake her clan's claim to political power despite a flurry of corruption trials.

Now a congressional lawmaker — the second richest behind boxing phenom-turned-congressman Manny Pacquiao — her lavish parties continue to attract press attention. She has previously talked up her son, Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., as a future presidential candidate.

Marcos ruled the Philippines from 1965 to 1986. He was then  forced from power and fled to the United States in 1986. He died three years later.

The WikiLeaks cables describing Marcos' birthday party come from a database  that WikiLeaks launched on Monday. The database contains 1.7 million US State Department documents from 1973 through 1976. The documents were already declassified but not easy for general public to find.

GlobalPost senior correspondent for Southeast Asia, Patrick Winn, contributed to this report from Bangkok.