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When art becomes evidence of truth

Exhibitions of Imelda Marcos' paintings and jewelry defy historical revisionism

A woman views a sculpture depicting former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos and his wife, Imelda, as the Philippine mythological figures Malakas and Maganda (Strong One and Beautiful One), in an exhibit curated by Pio Abad. (Courtesy of Pio Abad). 

QUEZON CITY, Philippines -- An obscure but massive painting hangs above a staircase in the Jorge B. Vargas Museum in the University of the Philippines. The 18th-century painting "Large Landscape with Figure," by the Italian landscape artist Giuseppe Zais, is one of about 500 artworks acquired by former Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos that are now held by the museum for the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG).

About 1 kilometer away, the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Manila University recently closed an exhibition in the Arete gallery of resin sculptures of Imelda Marcos' jewelry collection, which was smuggled into Hawaii when she and her husband, the autocratic former President Ferdinand Marcos, fled a people-power revolt in 1986.

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