Imelda Marcos became known worldwide for her massive shoe collection. She was often used as a symbol of excess in the Philippines, where many residents were forced to walk barefoot due to the extreme level of poverty in nation. The flamboyant first lady’s infamous footwear collection is housed in the National Museum in Manila. The once beautiful and expensive designer shoes have now been ravaged by termites, storm damage, and just overall neglect.
The enormous shoe collection was among the belongings left behind when the former Philippines’ first lady and her dictator spouse were driven from the country by a revolt in 1986. Ferdinand Marcos also left behind the bulk of his costly clothing, including the see-through barong shirts he frequently wore during his 20-year rule over the Southeast Asia nation.
Manila National Museum staffers noted that the belongings of the past rulers began to fray and grew moldy while being stored at presidential palace, and then later at the museum. Among the personal items stored without apparently necessary preservation protections include 150 cartons of clothing, 1,220 pairs of Imelda Marcos’ shoes, and dress accessories, the Washington Times notes.
Two years ago the apparel and accessories items, along with art objects, were transferred to the Manila National Museum for safekeeping. A combination of humidity, mold, and termites at the riverside presidential threatened the relics of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos. The boxes were allegedly abandoned in a padlocked hall because the museum did not have facilities to protect the items, according to the New York Daily News.
Due to bombarding tropical rains last month, a gushing leak in the hall’s ceiling caused further erosion of the infamous shoe collection. Current staffers were not aware that the fragile boxes contained expensive keepsakes once worn by the former dictator and his wife, until water poured out from under the padlocked door.