In the aftermath of the February 1986 “revolution” that forced Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos out of the Philippines, the government of Corazon Aquino turned the presidential palace, Malacañang, into a museum and in doing so meant to put the Marcoses legacy of excess on display. A guidebook on the presidential palace describes one instance of that excessiveness, in which the doors leading to the Grand Staircase are said to have “depict[ed] the Philippine legend of ‘Malakas’ (Strong) and ‘Maganda’ (Beautiful), the first Filipino man and woman who emerged from a large bamboo stalk. Mrs. Marcos liked to think of President Marcos and herself in terms of these legendary First Filipinos.” They identified so thoroughly with this myth that they had portraits of themselves done as Malakas and Maganda in the palace—seminude and emerging from a forest of bamboo stalks (see Plate 1). In 1985 they even commissioned a group of Filipino academics to rewrite the legend that culminated in the celebration of the Marcos regime.
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