It’s been almost half a century since Martial Law and we’re still far from being free of its clutches: the ill-gotten wealth and human rights violations being the most blatant among many others (in case the attempts to revise history are working).
In recent years, art has been immortalizing the atrocities of the era: exhibits, zines and, of course, film, many of which remember the individual narratives of the victims and the families left behind to grieve.
Some films and docus dive into the Marcos family themselves. The short film “The Rose of Manila,” which premieres at San Diego Asian Film Festival and the National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY), imagines Imelda Marcos’ childhood―before all the extravagance and opulence that she became infamous for.
“What is love when made real? Beauty. Archival footage and reenactment evoke a formative moment in the life of young Imelda Marcos, the infamous wife of Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos,” reads the film’s description on director Alex Westfall’s website.
The NFFTY description of the film adds a bit of context: “An imagining of the formative years of Imelda Marcos, who as the First Lady of the Philippines, would become known for her lavishness and detachment from her country’s social reality. Here, the fate of a young girl and an entire nation become entangled as the mother of a country is born.”
The 17-second trailer shows a younger Imelda Marcos using one hand to hold a turtle up to her face, staring at it as she idly fans herself. Probably not the best way to hold a small turtle (it’s advisable to pick one up with both hands), but who knows? Maybe it’s foreshadowing.
A ticket costs $10 with an additional fee of $1.25 (more or less P300). You can view the film online until Oct. 31, but it’s only available in the US for now. You might find a way around that “if you’re a whiz with VPNs or something,” as Westfall wrote on her IG post.
Still from “The Rose of Manila”