It was Moments With Marie Antoinette, it was the Last Days of Pompeii, and it was on videotape. But this was not Paris 1789, it was Rayburn 2255. Yesterday on Capitol Hill, members of the "Ninoy" Aquino Movement showed a vanity videotape made by Imelda Marcos last year, a tape that was discovered Wednesday at one of the Marcoses' properties in New York. And it was a field day for the two Aquino supporters who showed it.
"We'll let it speak for itself," said Aquino Movement member Usopay Cadar as he and associate Cecile Guidote-Alvarez prepared to show the videotape to a roomful of reporters and 10 television cameras. Also at hand was a spokesman for Rep. Stephen Solarz (D-N.Y.), whose subcommittee is investigating Marcos' holdings in New York.
But while the tape rolled, Alvarez and Cadar did anything but let the tape speak for itself.
" 'The beauty of life!,' " said Alvarez, mimicking Imelda Marcos on the tape with a chuckle.
"Look at her shoes! There's some kind of diamonds at the back," she said, pointing at Marcos' black pumps, as she was shown at a party apparently given for billionaire Adnan Khashoggi. The shoes were sparkling with what appeared to be diamonds. But the camera cut away from Marcos' feet before scrutiny could be applied. "Oh, that's okay, they're stolen anyway," Alvarez said.
And later when a sequence, filmed, according to Alvarez, at Khashoggi's residence, showed a familiar tanned gentleman, she said: "That's George Hamilton. She calls him one of her favorite dancing partners!"
"Some of these paintings and artworks are missing now," said Cadar pointing to paintings in the background with a pencil like a professor.
The 25-minute tape (dated September 1985) showed four sequences of Marcos and Khashoggi at different locations in her residence and Khashoggi's. Marcos at one point rose to deliver a toast. "In spite of its many problems," she said, "we know there's enough potential on the planet today for man not only to survive but to flourish . . . We hope we all eventually find peace, prosperity and happiness for all of humankind."
In his reply, Khashoggi thanked his hostess and declared, "history will judge" Mrs. Marcos.
"She loves to sing!" said Alvarez with a laugh. And Marcos crooned through a mike at the dinner party, her throaty notes directed toward the beaming Khashoggi and company. Through the muffled tape, some of the lyrics came through: "If you love me, really love me, let it happen darling, I don't care."
The crowd's guffaws were perhaps loudest during a sequence on a strobe-lit dance floor in the same New York residence. To the pounding music of the rock group Loverboy, Imelda Marcos, Khashoggi and friends danced hand in hand, bodies swaying. "That's Van Cliburn!" said Alvarez, pointing to the pianist.
There were smirks as the camera followed the guests on a tour of the two residences -- with elephant tusks on display and a bathroom the size of a living room in what was identified as Khashoggi's residence. "That's mink," threw in Alvarez as the camera revealed an enormous bed covered in furs.
Yesterday's tape was just another of many private videotapes made by the Marcos family, most of which are stored at the former presidential palace in Manila. Imelda Marcos, said Alvarez, was "known to travel with a team that documented every movement of hers."
Yesterday's tape was not officially released by the Aquino government. According to a spokeswoman for Francisco Rodrigo, the New York officer in charge of the Aquino-led investigation of the Marcos holdings, Rodrigo "was very angry" that the tape was shown. Rodrigo "would not have approved it," said Jane Orendain, a transition volunteer. "Everything should have remained where it was because an investigation is going on."