Ferdinand Marcos 'forced Philippine military chiefs to parade as women'
Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos forced his military chiefs to parade as women during a birthday party planned by his wife Imelda, according to US diplomatic cables.
William Sullivan, US ambassador to the Philippines in the mid-1970s, wrote a series of blistering criticisms of the couple in cables since declassified and published by WikiLeaks.
In a report dated September 12, 1973, Sullivan recounted a "two-day blast" of a party for Ferdinand Marcos that he said was at odds with state-controlled media reports of him spending "a quiet birthday at his desk".
"In general, every aspect of the occasion was too much, too long, and in questionable taste," Sullivan wrote in the report. One of the lowest points was when military chiefs were required, under instructions from Imelda Marcos, to perform in a floor show "in garish female attire".
"This whole affair was a saccharine suffusion of sycophancy," according to the cables.
Ferdinand Marcos ruled the Philippines for nearly 20 years until an army-backed "people power" uprising involving millions of people forced him to flee into US exile in 1986. He died in Hawaii three years later.
The United States supported the dictatorship until the final moments of the revolution.
Sullivan wrote repeatedly of what he saw as the personality flaws of Imelda Marcos, who cultivated immense power during her husband's rule and famously lived a lavish lifestyle while most Filipinos endured brutal poverty.
Imelda Marcos returned to the Philippines after her husband's death. She is now a congresswoman and her son, Ferdinand Marcos Jnr, is a senator eyeing a presidential run in 2016.