M.O.M. (Muse of Manila)



In 1953, Cristina Galang, from the province of Tarlac, was crowned Miss Philippines. Miss Leyte, Imelda Romualdez, protested the victory to the Mayor of Manila, Arsenio Lacson who, in order to appease, awarded her the consolatory title, Muse Of Manila. Soon after this, Ms. Romualdez met a young congressman called Ferdinand Marcos, who pursued her in what later became known as the 'Eleven-Day Whirlwind': a swift and strategic courtship culminating in their infamous 21-year 'conjugal dictatorship' of the Philippines. Popular for her beauty, flamboyance and eccentricity, Imelda privately-published a spiritual autobiography called Circles of Life, a fully-illustrated collection of grand narratives about her life and lifestyle, and pseudo-philosphical musings on how she achieved it. 

The works in this exhibition take visual cues from this strange mythology of love and power. Roses to signify the first flower that Ferdinand gifted his future First Lady; a decorative '21' cast from a birthday candle to mark the duration of their reign; party balloons and decorations imprinted with renderings of the illustrations in Imelda's book; and finally, a digital print of my own mother's face, 'imelded' onto Mrs. Marcos herself, to acknowledge a generation of women both inspired and misguided by the 'star and slave', Imelda.