ONLINE RESIDENCY | Pio Abad V
In the penultimate article of his Online Residency, Pio Abad continues his investigation of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, discovering some of their decadent, yet discarded belongings.
The week before I left Manila, I paid a visit to the archives of the National Museum to have an initial look at what they unofficially call ‘The Marcos Collection.’ The curators of the museum very kindly gave me access to the items of clothing and other paraphernalia that Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos left behind when they fled for exile in 1986.
The archive consisted of a room filled with cardboard boxes, each one filled with an assortment of gowns, shirts with the presidential seal and even one full of satin and lace covered clothes hangers. Some of these objects have been kept in the same boxes that they were placed in thirty years ago and have inevitably deteriorated over time. A team of two conservators is currently restoring certain items in the collection but the eventual fate of the objects is still undetermined.
The ongoing debate is whether they should occupy a space in the galleries of the National Museum or be discarded as the fripperies of a regrettable past. The gowns are intricately crafted, which I think deserve to be displayed as examples of local craftsmanship. As the debate remains unresolved, these items remain in stasis. The notion of historical artefacts as plunder couldn’t be more accurate in this instance and what seems to be glossed over in the political discussions surrounding these objects is that most historical artefacts are, in fact, forms of cultural plunder.