Wikileaks has released more than 1.7 million US diplomatic and intelligence documents from the 1970s, and ABS-CBN News reports that one cable from 1973 describes a wild birthday party for U.S.-backed dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Although the press in Manila reported that Marcos spent a quiet birthday at his desk, a U.S. Embassy cable says there was a "two-day blast carefully orchestrated by his wife Imelda." The birthday was considered an ostentatious display of wealth, with a parade, dinner, concert, floor show, and other events.
Then-U.S. Ambassador to Manila William H. Sullivan, in his confidential memo to the US Department of State, said the celebration was "too much, too long, and in questionable taste."
He said all but one top-ranking military officers were required to "parade in garish female attire" during a performance. "This caused much grumbling among military hierarchy, and wives of service chiefs stood conspicuously in a grim, un-smiling phalanx throughout the hilarity," Sullivan said.
"This whole affair was a saccharine suffusion of sycophancy which reminded me unhappily of the heydays of Sukarno and Sihanouk," he added. "Although Imelda was responsible, the president seemed to enjoy it and appeared unaware of the negative vibrations among his courtiers, especially the senior military, upon whom so much of his future programs will depend," he said.
"Only the Marcos children, to their credit, appeared embarrassed by the display," Sullivan said.
Ferdinand Marcos ruled the Philippines for nearly 20 years until an army-supported uprising forced him into exile in 1986. He died in Hawaii three years later.
Former first lady Imelda Marcos is currently a Philippine congresswoman and her son is a senator considering running for president in 2016.