Music & Dance
Manfrotto.In this case, the real effort went into getting access to a subject who at the time was very well-known and extremely high-profile - Imelda Marcos, wife of the Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos. The year was 1983, and political trouble was already brewing. Three years later came the largely peaceful ‘People Power’ revolution that swept the Marcoses from power, leaving a media legacy of excesses that included the famous collection of Imelda’s shoes...My assignment was from the Sunday Times Magazine, which had a back page feature called A Life in the Day (just to be a little different!), and all that was wanted was one picture. But access to Imelda was not at all easy, and it fell to the writer to try and secure it. He and I were in Hong Kong doing another day-in-the-life for the same magazine, on a shipping magnate, and the idea was to fly on to Manila from there. However, as uncertainty increased about whether we could get into Malacañang Palace to meet the First Lady, the magazine decided to reduce the cost risk and send just the writer ahead. If he succeeded, I would follow. But I had only two more days on contract in Hong Kong, and when they ran out, I flew back to Bangkok to continue on another story. As I reached the Bangkok hotel that evening, however, the writer, Glen, called to say that the interview and shooting were on, and that we had both been invited to the palace as guests at the State Banquet being given in honor of the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Nakasone. And, I needed full black tie. Fortunately, the Indian tailors in the lobby of the Hotel Trocadero could make a suit overnight as I slept. My flight to Manila got me there just in time, and a palace limo rushed Glen and me to the palace. I changed clothes in the car. ..When we arrived, all was eerily quiet. The limo pulled up in the porte cochère, right next to the long red carpet laid all the way up the grand, but empty staircase. Unusual, we thought; we had been expecting a zoo of reporters and guests. Well, nothing for it but to walk up the staircase. And then, at the top, we saw a head peek round to look down at us. It was Imelda Marcos, waiting for the arrival of the Japanese Prime Minister, and rather surprised to see two journalists dressed for her banquet...Everything fell into place, however. We avoided the media scrum, because the Sunday Times wanted something different, not like the usual press coverage. Once in the banquet, I got a tip from one of the generals sitting next to me at a table. Apparently, Imelda liked to sing, and was an accomplished crooner. She even had her own backing group. But would she here, this evening? Uncertain. As the banquet drew to a close and speeches were being made, someone asked her if she would sing for the company. Oh no, she couldn’t, she demurred. But please Mrs President! Oh well, she sighed, if you insist, and the backing group who had been waiting in a side room for just this impromptu cue appeared. And I had my shot. She did have a lovely voice..
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TEA HORSE ROAD
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