Re-counting Imelda Marcos' 'mythical' 3,000 pairs of shoes

By | 11:20 PM 1 comment
Re-counting Imelda Marcos' 'mythical' 3,000 pairs of shoes
Historians frequently disagree on the actual number of Imelda Marcos' much-prized shoe collection - those Gucci, Charles Jourdan, Christian Dior, Ferragamo, Chanel, Prada shoes - brands most women would definitely die for.

When she fled Malacanang Palace with her husband, Ferdinand, in 1986, rumors surfaced that she left behind a total of 3,000 pairs of shoes and slippers, all of which she allegedly acquired and owned during their 20-year reign.

Out of those 3,000 pairs, it is said that almost 800 pairs of these are on display at the Shoe Museum in Marikina City, located east of Manila -- a repository Imelda inaugurated herself after her return from exile in later years.


Marikina Shoe Museum

When my wife craved on going to Marikina City one morning, I jumped at the chance. I looked forward to witnessing firsthand the mythical shoe collection that had become the worldwide symbol of the Marcoses' lavish lifestyle.

The ride to the country's shoe capital was bumpy, traversing the traffic-torn EDSA and getting past the hustle-and-bustle existence of the Cubao area. When you're commuting, hopping on a jeepney ride from Cubao is the quickest (and maybe the cheapest!) way to reach Marikina City. In our case, it just took us around 15 minutes to get to the museum.


The Marikina Shoe Museum
The Marikina Shoe Museum

The location where the museum is now standing, along J.P. Rizal Street, was once a rice mill built in the 1860s during the post war years. It was renovated and converted into the Shoe Museum in year 2000.

The museum itself is not large, and they are still continuously acquiring exhibits locally and globally. It aims to showcase the shoes worn by prominent figures in Philippine history and, of course, the traditional Filipino footwear. Among the famous exhibits they have is the shoe collection of Imelda Marcos wherein around 800 pairs of her shoes and a few memorabilia are displayed.

The tourist guide was accommodating and shared to us some memoirs on the mystery of Imelda's 3,000 pairs of shoes.

IMELDIFIC: An Imelda portrait is displayed prominently on a wall
IMELDIFIC: An Imelda portrait is displayed prominently on a wall

The lady wears high heels

Imelda's shoe collection is located at the mezzanine area of the museum. A number of her portraits, mostly photos of her socializing with state leaders, are hung alongside shelves containing her shoes.

IMELDIFIC: An Imelda portrait is displayed prominently on a wall 2
SOCIALIZING: Imelda was able to mingle with a lot of famous state leaders during their reign.

SOCIALIZING: Imelda was able to mingle with a lot of famous state leaders during their reign.-1
SOCIALIZING: Imelda was able to mingle with a lot of famous state leaders during their reign.

SOCIALIZING: Imelda was able to mingle with a lot of famous state leaders during their reign. - 2
SOCIALIZING: Imelda was able to mingle with a lot of famous state leaders during their reign.

The shelves were massive and her shoes were stacked by the hundreds, lined up majestically according to color. The guide said her size was 8 1/2, quite large by Filipino standards. She always wear high heel shoes, except when she's with her husband, Ferdinand - in such cases, she wears flat.

An infographic trivia poster about Imelda's shoes.
An infographic trivia poster about Imelda's shoes.

Two pairs of men's shoes owned by the late Ferdinand Marcos.
Two pairs of men's shoes owned by the late Ferdinand Marcos.

Imelda never wore her high heeled shoes when she's with her husband, Ferdinand.
Imelda never wore her high heeled shoes when she's with her husband, Ferdinand.

Was it really 3,000?

The origin of the report that Imelda owned 3,000 pairs of shoes is still debatable. In 1987, a year after their exile, an inventory was made and only determined that Mrs. Marcos only owned 1,060 pairs of shoes and slippers, including one battery-equipped pair that "glows in the dark."

The inventory also counted about a thousand dresses, half of which (numbering to 508) are floor-length gowns. 888 handbags, 464 scarves, 664 handkerchiefs and 71 pairs of sunglasses.

Imelda's floor-length gown: She allegedly left behind 508 pieces of dresses similar to this.
Imelda's floor-length gown: She allegedly left behind 508 pieces of dresses similar to this.

In an article from the New York Times, a former administrator of the Malacanang Palace Victoria Garchitorena said "''... nobody knows where the 3,000 figure came from,''

Nobody really knows the overall total of shoes, either, because Imelda kept separate wardrobes, including racks of shoes, in several other residences and guest houses, she added.

In addition, the Marcos family, anticipating the end, shipped out an unknown number of crates of goods before fleeing the palace on Feb. 25, 1986.


One of the many shelves housing Imelda's shoe collection.
One of the many shelves housing Imelda's shoe collection.

One of the many shelves housing Imelda's shoe collection. 2
One of the many shelves housing Imelda's shoe collection.

The shoes were stacked by the hundreds, lined up majestically according to color.
The shoes were stacked by the hundreds, lined up majestically according to color. 

The shoes were stacked by the hundreds, lined up majestically according to color. 2
The shoes were stacked by the hundreds, lined up majestically according to color. 


Badly Damaged

In a report from the Daily Mail, it said that in 2010, more than 150 boxes of clothes, dress accessories and shoes of the Marcoses were transferred to the National Museum for safekeeping after termites, humidity and mould threatened the apparel inside Malacanang.

There they deteriorated further as the fragile boxes were abandoned in a padlocked museum hall that had no facilities to protect them. The pieces were further damaged by tropical storm rains from a gushing leak in the ceiling.

In 2012, part of Imelda's shoe collection has been badly damaged either by termites, floods and/or general neglect; including a pair of white Pierre Cardin heels, the sole of one destroyed by termites. Other shoes have been warped out of shape or messed by stains.


Share us your stories

The numbers mentioned above may contain inaccuracies as the figures were handed by mouth through the years. If you have your own stories to tell that you believe are facts, please don't hesitate to write them in the comments down below.


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