EVEN with hair coiffed, cheeks rogued, and shoulders padded, Imelda R. Marcos, 81, isn't as stunning as she looked years ago when she was First Lady to then president Ferdinand Marcos.

Most of those born after 1986 are ignorant about the Ferdie-Meldy 20-year conjugal rule, a martial law regime "wracked with corruption and political repression."

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Those who know, alas, no longer remember--and not about her looks.

They've forgotten the wealth the couple allegedly stashed away ($5B to $10B), the civil and criminal cases filed against them (900), and, yes, the closet of shoes that "could shod a nation" (not 3,000, she said, only 1,060).

She was arrested once but not jailed. Most of the cases have been dropped. Awash with cash, she owns a whole floor of a Makati condo, complete with private garden. And

she's a congresswoman with a senator son and a governor daughter.

In a celebrity-mad nation, she's a person whom people want to be photographed with or ogle.

The 'TGB'

Last Sunday at the "soft" opening of Cebu Journalism & Journalists (CJJ) section, along with two other galleries, in Museo Sugbo, I was seated near her, with Gov. Gwen Garcia between us.

In her speech and at dinner, Imelda talked about "the true, the good, and the beautiful" and that what Gwen has been doing in Cebu affirms the Imelda mantra.

And she talked about media. She said "a gunshot can send a person to his grave but a media attack goes beyond the grave," which drew titters from journalists in the audience.

Later I told her, "Ma'm, you're bitter about media." Her quick retort: "No, Atty. Seares, I am beaten by media."

(paseares@yahoo.com)