MANILA: Up to 200 people reportedly fell ill with suspected food poisoning at the 90th birthday celebrations of the Philippines' former first lady Imelda Marcos on Wednesday.
Some of them were taken to hospital while paramedics attended to others on site, according to local media reports.
CNN Philippines reported up to 200 people needed treatment. GMA News, a local TV network reported at least 60 people where taken ill, while the Inquirer daily reported that at least 30 individuals manifested signs and symptoms of food poisoning.
The celebration was held on Wednesday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City, a district of Manila. It was Imelda's third birthday celebration in as many days.
Imelda Marcos is not among those who are suffering from a suspected food poisoning following her 90th birthday bash. Marcos' chief of staff Bebot Diaz confirmed this to DWIZ, a Manila radio station, saying the former dictator's widow is well.
Imelda's daughter, Senator Imee Marcos, who was at the Wednesday event, said they will look after the victims and vowed to visit them in the hospital. "Asikasuhin na lang natin yung mga nasa ospital, at asahan po ninyo na bibisitahin natin ang bawat isa," Imee was quoted as saying in Tagalog ("We will look after those who are in hospital...we will visit everyone.")
Officials of Manila's Eastern Police District (EPD) said the suspected food poisoning incident took place at the Wednesday party, attended by about 2,500 visitors.
The EPD said paramedics and first responders rushed to the scene to attend to the victims, who reportedly experienced vomiting episodes and abdominal discomfort. Further investigation is ongoing.
During the Monday, July 1, celebrations, Imelda said she was confident that the Philippines “will be great again.”
She thanked all the supporters of her family whom she described as “Maka Diyos, Makabayan at Makatao [pro-God, pro-country, pro-people].”
“I believe as long as we are united this nation will be great again,” Marcos said. “With your continuous support feeling ko hindi ako tumanda [I feel like I didn’t age],” she added.
The Friends of Imelda Romualdez Marcos (FIRM) also hosted a get together to celebrate the 90th birthday of the former first lady on July 2, Tuesday.
Monday birthday party at Luneta
Earlier, on Monday, July 1, hundreds of Marcos supporters gathered at Manila's Rizal Park to celebrate Imelda's 90th birthday, dubbed as Asia's "Iron Butterfly."
The Monday event was also attended by Imelda along with her children Imee, 63, and Bongbong, 61. Imelda thanked those gathered for their loyalty to the Marcos family for over 30 years (since the end of the dictatorship) and said that support for the family had only increased after her children's foray into politics.
Imelda was governor of the Ilocos Norte region, a stronghold of the Marcos family. Imee won a seat in the senate while her brother, Bongbong, nearly nailed the vice-presidency in the 2016 elections — and is seen as a likely contender to run for president in the 2022 race.
Imelda's tenure as congresswoman for Ilocos Norte, where her husband was born, expired on June 30, 2919 after nine years of occupying the elected post.
The ex-first lady will leave public life after more than a decade in the Congress. She also served as a lawmaker representing Leyte, where she was born, from 1995-98.
Imelda, widow of former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos (1917-1989), turned 90 on Tuesday, July 2.
She left Congress as the third-richest parliamentarian with a declared net worth in 2018 of over $18 million.
Who is Imelda Marcos?
Imelda Romualdez Marcos (born Imelda Trinidad Romualdez; 2 July 1929) is a Filipino socialite, politician, and congresswoman who was First Lady of the Philippines for 21 years, during which she and her husband had amassed about $5–$10 billion of ill-gotten wealth.
More than 171 billion pesos ($3.34 billion at today's forex rate) had been recovered by the Philippine government from the ill-gotten wealth. It is believed that much of the Marcos loot is yet to be unrecovered.
She married Ferdinand Marcos in 1954 and became First Lady in 1965 when he became President of the Philippines. Her behaviour of initiating numerous grand architectural projects using public funds, came to be described in common parlance as "Imeldific".
She and her family gained notoriety for living a lavish lifestyle during a period of economic crisis and civil unrest in the country.
She spent much of her time abroad on state visits, extravagant parties, and shopping sprees, and spent much of the State's money on her personal jewellery and shoe collections. Her collection of over 1,000 pairs of luxury shoes earned her the sobriquet "Marie Antoinette, with shoes."
The People Power Revolution in February 1986 unseated the Marcoses and forced the family into exile. In 1991, President Corazon Aquino allowed the Marcos family to return to the Philippines after the 1989 death of Ferdinand Marcos. Imelda was elected four times to the House of Representatives.
She, along with her husband Ferdinand, are famous for holding the Guinness World Record for the "Greatest Robbery of a Government". In November 2018, she was convicted of corruption charges for her activities some 40 years earlier, during her term as governor of Manila.