The late dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ body that used to be on display in a museum in Ilocos Norte is made up of a wig and a waxen mask that covered up his disease-ravaged corpse, his mortician reveals.
Frank Malabed was chosen to embalm Marcos’ body, as well as the remains of other high profile politicians and celebrities.
He revealed that the body displayed in the museum was real, except for one part of his body.
“The face the people saw was wax. But for the rest of the body there was no need for that because it was clothed,” the 66-year old mortician said in an interview with AFP TV.
‘The hair, that’s only a wig,” he added.
Marcos died of kidney, lung and liver complications in 1980 while his family was in exile in Hawaii, three years after he and his family fled Malacañang due to the EDSA People Power in 1986.
In those 20 years he spent in power, critics say he stole from state coffers. His regime was also filled with stories of thousands of people getting tortured and killed.
Malabed went to Hawaii to embalm Marcos’ body. The dictator’s remains were later flown to the Philippines in 1993 after the Marcoses signed a deal for their return with then-President Fidel Ramos. Since then, the body was placed inside a glass case for public viewing in the museum.
According to Malabed, Marcos’ body was disfigured due to oedema, a condition that entails fluid build-up that leads to swollen tissues. He added that despite having undergone the embalming process, which drains the corpse of blood and other body fluid and replace it with preservative solution, Marcos’ “shriveled skin did not look good.”
However, the dictator’s widow “did not care for that,” said Malabed.
“She wanted Filipinos to see President Marcos (the way) he looked before, when he was still young,” he said.
Malabed took over the embalming process for Marcos remains a week after his death and after he was embalmed by someone else. He had to repeat the process to remedy the dictator’s “bloated” face and to lessen the risk that it would decompose within a week.
“I’m a perfectionist when speaking about embalming,” the mortician said.
He told the Marcoses that the dictator’s reworked body would stay intact for 30 years.
As a mortician, Malabed expressed his pride for the task handed to him because Marcos was a “20-year president and not an ordinary person.”
Aside from the embalming in 1989, Malabed said that Imelda commissioned another mortician to put rebuild Marcos’ face with a restorative wax, the same wax used to reconstruct the faces of the victims of fatal accidents.
He also revealed that he checked Marcos’ remains “by hand” on August 8, declaring it ready for the secret burial preparations. The burial, however, was managed by another mortuary.