In 2009 David Byrne, previously of the band Talking Heads, and his collab-
orator Norman Cook (better known as Fatboy Slim) assembled an eclectic
group of vocalists—including Florence Welch, Tori Amos, Cyndi Lauper,
Sharon Jones, Natalie Merchant, Kate Pierson, Sia, Santigold, and the Fili-
pina ‘‘jazzipino’’ artist Charmaine Clamor—to produce an album with a
premise even more surprising and incongruous than its collaborators. Re-
leased the following year, the album, entitled Here Lies Love, is a song cycle
that braids together the stories of Imelda Marcos, the former first lady of the
Philippines, and her devoted and forgotten childhood servant, Estrella
Cumpas. Imagined primarily via the perspective of these Filipinas, the al-
bum’s infectious, clubby dance tracks clash with the discordant context of
the regime of Ferdinand Marcos, a tragedy of U.S.-backed leadership gone
terribly and violently wrong. Elected in 1965, Marcos declared martial law in
1972; he ruled the Philippines as a dictator until he, his wife, and their family
were ousted by popular revolt in 1986.
Drawing upon Imelda Marcos’s past as a beauty queen, her fairy-tale rise
from countryside girl to first lady, her ease in global spaces, and her ambitious
political persona, Here Lies Love capitalizes on Marcos’s self-presentation as a
spectacle of transpacific Filipina femininity. The Marcos era was characterized
by large-scale political oppression; censorship of the press and media; the
kidnapping, torture, and murder of political opponents; and extortion and
theft. Although many of these crimes have yet to be resolved, today Imelda
Marcos’s worldwide claim to fame centers on her thousands of shoes, a
collection that became a symbol of the pair’s unchecked greed and corrup-
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