Of course, the scale of Imelda’s greed is a matter of debate. But according to Philippine news site Rappler, she apparently once said, “We practically own everything in the Philippines. From electricity, telecommunications, airlines, banking, beer and tobacco, newspaper publishing, television stations, shipping, oil and mining, hotels and beach resorts, down to coconut milling, small farms, real estate and insurance.”
Meanwhile, in a curious rhetorical twist, Imelda claimed that her greed was motivated by charity. She told Newsweek in 2009, “I plead guilty. For me, greedy is giving. I was first lady for 20 years, you have to be greedy first to give to all. It is natural. The only things we keep in life are those we give away.”
Born Imelda Remedios Visitacion Romuáldez in July 1929, she was the first child of her mother Remedios and the sixth of her father Vicente. Although her family was relatively wealthy at the time of her birth, her dad’s law practice was ailing. And in 1938 the family moved from Manila to Tacloban, where the cost of living was lower. Then that same year, Imelda’s mother sadly died from pneumonia.