Imelda’s beach property in Tolosa, Leyte undergoes rehab
TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte, Philippines — The beach house of former first lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos in Tolosa, Leyte is undergoing rehabilitation as part of efforts to boost local tourism.
The property, located in Barangay Olot and once dubbed the “Malacañang of the South” during the first Marcos administration, was one of the structures heavily damaged by the onslaught of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) on Nov. 8, 2013.
The house has drawn renewed interest with Imelda’s son Ferdinand Jr. becoming President last year and as the province, one of the worst hit by Yolanda, commemorates the 10th anniversary of the calamity that claimed the lives of some 6,300 people, about a third of them in Tacloban alone.
The Presidential Commission on Good Government, a body tasked to recover the ill-gotten wealth of the late dictator’s family and his cronies, sequestered the beach house in 1987, a year after the Marcoses were forced out of Malacañang and into US exile by the Edsa People Power Revolution that ended Ferdinand Sr.’s 21-year rule.
But in 2008, the Supreme Court issued an order allowing the family to reclaim the property.
Tolosa Mayor Erwin Ocaña said the 42-hectare beachfront development used to draw tourists in sizeable numbers, owing to its backstory as a property built by the elder Marcos for his Leyteña wife, now age 94.
“We are happy that it is now being rehabilitated. This will be a big help to us, especially in our tourism industry,” the mayor said.
Repair works started early this year on the beach house and on two other structures built by Imelda at the height of her husband’s power—the Santo Niño Shrine and the People’s Center and Library in Tacloban City.
Mansions, golf course
The Tolosa property consisted of a seven-room residential mansion, a 14-room guest mansion, a pavilion that could accommodate 1,000 people, and a nine-hole golf course designed by the legendary American golfer Jack Nicklaus.
Imelda entertained winning Miss Universe contestants at the beach house when the pageant was held in Manila in 1974.
In an earlier interview, one of Imelda’s daughters, Sen. Imee Marcos, said her mother got depressed upon hearing about the devastation wrought by Yolanda, particularly on Barangay Olot.
Ocaña hoped that once the property was fully restored, the former first lady would again visit the village.
“We will be happy if she will visit Olot. After all, the property holds a sentimental value to the former first lady,” he said.
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