Marcos in mausoleum: Wax or real?

Chiara Zambrano, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 04 2011 11:00 PM | Updated as of Jul 05 2011 07:00 AM

Mortician: It's time for Marcos to be buried

BATAC, Philippines - Former President Ferdinand Marcos died in 1989 while in exile in Hawaii...

Twenty-two years later, his preserved remains are still on display at the Marcos mausoleum in Batac, Ilocos Norte, enclosed in a glass crypt inside an airconditioned room with Gregorian music playing endlessly.

The Marcoses have been waiting for government to allow the dictator to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes' Cemetery).

But over the years, people have begun to doubt whether the body on display is the real Marcos.

Marcos in mausoleum: Wax or real? 1Some suspect it is only just a wax replica, with the real Marcos already secretly buried.

However, while in Batac, the ABS-CBN News team met Frank Malabed, the mortician who embalmed Ferdinand Marcos in Hawaii.

Malabed insists that the body visitors to the mausoleum see is that of the late dictator.

"Siya pa rin yan. Ang loob niyang mismo ay katawan niya," Malabed says. "Nasa kanila [Marcos family] naman yan kung ano ang iniisip nila, di ba? Basta [ang] nakikkita nila, eto si ser, ang ating dating presidente."

It turns out that Malabed was also the one who embalmed the late Ninoy Aquino in 1983.

When Marcos died in Hawaii in 1989, the family immediately called for him.

Malabed recalls that it took him 3 weeks to restore Marcos' body back to the way Filipinos would recognize.

"Yung mukha niya, yung binti niya, may manas siya, yung edema. [Yung buhok], wig na yan. Wala na siyang buhok nung may mangyari sa kanya...talagang buo ang ginawa sa kanya. Kumbaga sa ano, parang maskara na yan," he explains.

But Malabed says he only preserved Marcos' body for 20-25 years. The time has come, he adds, for Marcos to be laid to rest.

"Kung hindi pa ito maililibing, kundi matuloy ngayong year na ito...medyo kinakabahan na rin ako. Kailangan ko na sigurong inspeksyunin na siyang muli," he says.

Ferdinand Marcos has remained unburied for 22 years, and he's bound to remain so until the nation has decided whether he's a hero, or a villain in Philippine history.