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Imelda Marcos Gives Away Fake Gems; Says Beauty Secret Is to See Beauty in Everything

Flamboyant former First Lady Imelda Marcos, known for extensive shoe collection and eye-popping diamond jewelry, on Thursday said she has no beauty secrets except to see beauty in everything, even garbage.

"I do all the wrong things — I eat too much ... I don't exercise, I don't sleep, but I always imbibe myself with everything that's beautiful," said the former Miss Manila, who turned 78 on Monday. "I see God everywhere and I see beauty in everything, even garbage."

The wealthy socialite who gained fame for her diamond-encrusted tiaras and 1,220 pairs of shoes told a press forum that because the government has sequestered her expensive jewelry, she has resorted to wearing plastic accessories she herself made.

Pointing to a set of emerald-colored earrings and brooch, she said, "This is made of resin, plastic that is worth 50 pesos [less than $1]."

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Holding up a bracelet that she said she bought for 80 pesos or about $1.70, she proudly said, "It glitters, but it is fake."

"I am proud. It is beautiful. It does not have to be diamonds," she added.

She said while "people say Imelda is extravagant, excessive, frivolous," her philosophy in life "is the only things you keep in life are those you give away."

And then she proceeded to remove her bracelet and earrings, giving them away to female reporters nearby.

Last year, Marcos launched "The Imelda Collection" — a jewelry line she described as "both worthless and priceless," made from glass beads, gold-plated chains and recycled plastic pieces.

The widow of late President Ferdinand Marcos at one point faced more than 900 criminal and civil cases, mostly for violation of graft and corruption laws during her husband's 20-year rule. But many have been dismissed, with only 40 criminal cases and fewer than 20 civil suits remaining, said her lawyer, Robert Sison.

A "people power" revolt ousted Marcos in February 1986, forcing him and his family to flee to Hawaii, where he died in exile in 1989.

The government said it has recovered at least $1.7 billion in cash and assets from the Marcoses and their associates over two decades, including Swiss bank deposits worth at least $680 million.

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