Frank Malabed, dubbed “mortician to the stars” because of his famous clientele, yesterday dismissed speculations that the body on display in the refrigerated mausoleum in Batac City, Ilocos Norte is not the remains of President Ferdinand E. Marcos.
In an hour-long interview aired live on radio and television, Malabed attributed the “good looks” of the late strongman’s corpse to reconstructive wax and regular maintenance.
Marcos died after a long illness in 1989 while in exile in Hawaii where his family was flown after his ouster in February 1986.
Malabed said he was summoned by the former First Lady Imelda R. Marcos and was in Honolulu three days after Marcos died.
“His body was in bad shape, not properly embalmed. I immediately took it back to the mortuary and re-embalmed the remains,” Malabed narrated.
Marcos was interred in a temporary above-ground tomb in Hawaii’s Valley of the Temples, guarded day and night by former presidential guards who volunteered to watch over him until his remains are brought home.
When Imelda Marcos returned to the Philippines in November 1991, Malabed promised to look after Marcos’ body with regular check-ups and maintenance.
In 1992, after the presidential elections, President Fidel V. Ramos allowed the return of the body of his cousin Ferdinand Marcos, on condition that it be flown directly to Ilocos Norte and be buried there.
The body returned in 1993. The Marcos family decided to place the body temporarily in a mausoleum until the dying wish of the late President for a Libingan burial could be fulfilled.
When Joseph Estrada became president, he initially announced approval for a Libingan ng mga Bayani burial for Marcos, but was forced to bow to pressure from the Catholic Church and civic groups.
Throughout all these years, Malabed carried on maintenance work on the Marcos remains, using the latest chemicals in his trade.
“When I heard that the Libingan burial was imminent, I traveled to Ilocos last August and inspected the President’s remains, and found no damage. It just needed the usual upkeep,” Malabed said.
“My work on President Marcos is so good the body will remain preserved for at least five, even 10 years,” he assured. (Sol Vanzi)