MANILA, Philippines -- Weeping and clutching a rosary, flamboyant former Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos returned home to an uncertain welcome today after nearly six years of exile in the United States.
Amid tight security and a crush of reporters, the 62-year-old widow of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos was taken into an airport holding room where her one-way entry documents were stamped.
"It's wonderful to be home," she said as she disembarked from her chartered Boeing 747, back to the country she and her husband fled in disgrace in 1986. "I'm overwhelmed."
Mrs. Marcos was met by her 34-year-old son, Ferdinand Jr., who also returned from exile last week.
Hundreds of photographers and cameramen pushed and shoved at the airport, and Mrs. Marcos appeared frightened and bewildered in the crush.
After the Marcoses' fall from power, her million-dollar shopping sprees, 1,220 pairs of shoes and 6,900 garments became a worldwide symbol of the regime's gross excess, corruption and greed.
Philippine government officials said that she will be arrested and released on bail Wednesday. She faces at least 70 criminal and civil charges for the alleged systematic looting of the impoverished country's treasury during the Marcoses' 21-year rule.
"It's good she's here so we can get on with the judicial process," said Horacio Paredes, a government spokesman waiting at the airport.
The government has accused the couple of stealing $5 billion to $10 billion, enough to earn them the citation for "theft" in the 1991 "Guinness Book of World Records."
Mrs. Marcos' chartered jet held 235 journalists, aides, hangers-on, politicians, doctors, solar-power experts and, according to one aide, "people who know how to harness the energy in sea waves."