DoT chief doubts Imelda jewelry to draw tourists


MANILA, Philippines—Would the notorious history attached to Imelda Marcos’ jewelry be enough for tourists to travel all the way to Manila to view them?

Newly confirmed Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez raised this question on Wednesday following reports that the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) would like the Department of Tourism to exhibit the former first lady’s jewelry before a planned auction.

More specifically, the PCGG wants the Department of Tourism (DoT) to showcase the Iron Butterfly’s gems at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, a stone’s throw from the vault of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas where the famed jewelry have been kept all these years.

Jimenez remains cool to the idea, though. Especially the part where PCGG Chairman Andres Bautista thinks the “notoriety” identified with the jewels’ owner would put a premium that would attract curiosity seekers.

The secretary said the PCGG’s proposal would be “something that has to be evaluated. Any exhibit is possible but I have to see it first.”

The PCGG said the recommendation to display the jewelry was given to Jimenez in March. The secretary, though, told reporters that the commission made the proposal “before my time.”

Jimenez has headed the DoT for almost a year now.

“Just because it’s jewelry doesn’t mean it’s touristic so I will (have to) see…Notoriety is not exactly the best way to attract tourists,” the secretary stressed.

“I do not look at implications other than the fact that it’s possibly an opportunity for our people to draw in more tourists.  If that is what (PCGG officials) think it is,” he added.

Bautista said the PCGG already got a call from the international auction house Sotheby’s, which expressed interest in disposing of Marcos’ jewelry.

While conservative estimates put her assets’ value between $10 million and $20 million, Bautista believes Marcos’ “notoriety” could push her seized jewelry’s value up the stratosphere.

Bautista apparently based this on the precedent set by the sale of jewelry owned by other famous women including Elizabeth Taylor, Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis and the Duchess of Windsor that fetched figures way beyond the expectations of auctioneers.

Marcos lived the life of a bon vivant with an unlimited shopping allowance during her late husband’s presidency.

When Ferdinand Marcos escaped to Honolulu at the height of the Edsa uprising in 1986, his wife brought along with her a cache of 400 pieces of jewelry later seized by the US Bureau of Customs.

This was apart from the roughly 300 pieces left behind in Malacañang when the Marcos family fled in haste to Clark Airbase before flying to the US.

The Philippine government also keeps the so-called “Roumeliotes” collection of 60 pieces, named after the ex-first lady’s alleged Greek accomplice Demetriou Roumeliotes, who was caught trying to smuggle the items out of the country a few weeks after the Marcoses left.

The Roumeliotes collection is believed to be the most expensive as it includes a 37-carat diamond.

Get Inquirer updates while on the go, add us on these apps:

Inquirer Viber

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • robrano

    And he is right. Wonder which idiot is thinking that  just a single tourist would visit RP for to see the jewelries. Anybody knows also that they have been  confiscated without a real valid basis.
    I remember the report in an european newspaper where the lady reporter had visited Malacanang and had been shown a very long row of hangers with Cory clothes while still the Imelda cloths have been displayed as a bad esample. But at that time, Cory was not even one year president, compared to Imelda’s over 20 years as First Lady and additional as RP Beauty Queen.
    For to attract tourists, there really should be better reasons. Maybe less overpricing, less cheating, better transportation, more security etc. Or why the tiny state of Singapore has more tourists than RP?

    • c

       o sya, mabatikos mo lang si Cory.

    • JK1000

      Hindi ka ba nag-iiisip ? Mas maganda ang Singapore keysa sa Manila, masyadong marumi at mabaho ang Manila. Ang daming mga basura at traffic.  Maglalakad ka puro snatchers, kawatan na mga makakasalubong mo. Walang disiplina ang mga tao, kahit saan nagkakalat at mga motorista walang pakialam at puro mga siga sa kalsada.

    • johnllander

      You just remembered your fiction story.  By the way, how long was the row of hangers and who was that lady reporter? 

      Jail imelda now!

  • kevin

    Im not dumb to visit Philippines just to ogle on that jewelry..

  • ben311

    nakakahiya !

  • Anne Torre

    Can’t the Tourism office think of any better way to attract tourists? Importantly, the government must know how to enforce the law, keep peace and order and cleaniliness. Squatters ang garbage are gross sites. Or make the Smokey Mountain a tourist attraction for a clear situation about the Philippines?

  • Roy Rosales

    instead of the pcgg suggesting to the newly appointed tourism sec.jimenez to display the imeldas jewelry as tourist attractions,why cant  they just auction the whole lot thru chrisries,or sothesby,and give the proceeds to reforestration projects which our country is in dire need.

  • manual47

    And let the world know how a family like the Marcoses could stole that kind of wealth from poor filipinos.  Have you got no shame……  It will be fruitful if those jewelries could be turned into cash and invest on improvement of some of the places that tourists would travel to.   Tourists does not go to places just to see jewewlries.  The want to see places that they can relax and have good times.  Not to see jewelries which does not give them any benefits at all but anxiety if they found out the history of that jewelries….I will show some “delicadeza”,  if I were you.

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


editors' picks



latest videos