Flitting after the bloated Butterfly

PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 August, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 12 August, 2002, 12:00am

Imelda Marcos has been in town. Indeed, it's been hard to miss her.

The former Philippine first lady spent a week in Hong Kong holed up in the presidential suite of the Conrad International hotel, making sorties to designer shops, bankers and a Chinese herbalist.

Imelda, now 73, is still facing corruption charges for her alleged role in helping her husband, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, plunder $78 billion from the Philippines during his reign from 1968 to 1986. However, she is allowed to travel for 'medical reasons' and comes here to visit a local herbalist as well as various 'forensic accountants' who may or may not be able to help locate her husband's now fabled 'missing billions'.

One source, close to Imelda's Hong Kong entourage, said her health was now fast deteriorating. The woman once feared as the 'Steel Butterfly' is understood to have no control over her own bladder and is forced to wear adult diapers.

SAR's many Pacific Place field operatives agreed the former beauty queen was not looking her best. 'She's enormous,' said one shocked shopper who encountered her waddling through Seibu. 'I had met her before at a function years ago and I swear she has doubled her size. She was wearing a pink tent and she looked like a bowling ball.'

One designer shop assistant - who asked not to be identified - reported that Imelda stormed out after being told a dress she liked was not available in her size.

Most of her time, however, was devoted to meetings with bankers in her suite. Imelda is apparently still hopeful of tracking down her husband's lost loot. And while she does not have a full-time doctor, she always travels with her lawyer.

Still, SAR doubts she actually needs the cash. Her suite at the Conrad is a tidy $28,000 a night.