My dear colleagues in Cyber Plaza Miranda, Facebook, Twitter and the Internet,
I would very much appreciate it if you and your friends could come.
It’s OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. FIRST COME, FIRST SERVED, THOUGH. So you’ve got to come early.
I promise, those who don’t want their real identities to be known, your names will be safe with me. Just e-mail me that you are coming and I will submit your handles as your names.
A “Collector’s Edition” of the fully illustrated coffee table-size book will be available for P2,500 each. It’s hardcover, full-color on glossy paper and I must say it looks very good, thanks to the book designer Felix Mago Miguel. And it contains much, much more information than the regular coffee-table book.
We are also preparing a “Student Edition” – a black and white version, soft cover edition of the exact same book. This will be priced much, much lower, probably a little over the cost of two Big Mac Burger meals at McDo.
Someone who has seen the book has described it as “disturbingly beautiful”. I think Senator Rene Saguisag, who wrote the Foreword, called it “chilling”.
For now, I call it exhaustive and exhausting.
This was one project where I like a Ferdinand Magellan or a Christopher Columbus. I had a rough idea of the project, but, like the seas the two sailors sailed, the project just kept getting bigger and bigger. And researching on mayhem, cruelty, atrocity and greed took a lot out of my mental reserve.
I pushed on in the knowledge that I had to do my bit in preventing the Marcoses from erasing their dark past, thus opening the avenue for another dictatorship — not necessarily from someone in the Marcos family but by any future charismatic politician who would use Marcos’ Martial Law as a playbook to install himself as another tyrant.
In my entire career as a professional journalist, I have never MISSED DEADLINES, which is why I thrived as a freelance writer all these years. Because my editors in Hong Kong, or Singapore or Malaysia or London or Riyadh knew that when I said I would deliver by a certain date, I did. If I didn’t, the run-off was just a day or two.
With this book, for the first time, I kept missing deadlines I had set with the publisher. First because it proved to be bigger than I thought it would. I had to run after and interview: a sitting President and an ex-President; the leader of the Communist Party, several military sources some of whom had been identified as torturers by their victims; and several victims. Second, because I could not let a book come out that would be below my professional standards as a writer, as an investigative journalist. I could have submitted much earlier, but I did not want to give a puwede na book. In conscience, I could not.
When one has long been in a career, one knows instinctively when something is not quite right. when something is missing.
I would like to tell you now, guys, this is one book I can be proud of now. I placed everything in it – all my knowledge in writing and investigating. And so did Alan, the book editor, who conceptualized the book, laid down the chapters and titles, guided the flow of the text through adds and rewrites, and drew up the initial bibliography.
Still, I ran out of pages for the last Chapter. There were so many other things I still wanted to say but I simply did not anymore have the pages. In fact, I had to ask for some more pages to include the Appendices.
After you read this book, tell me what you think about it.
I would also like to ask your help to tell others about this book.
Meanwhile, here’s a glimpse of the Introduction:
The Boy Who Fell From The Sky
On the morning of May 31, 1977, residents of Antipolo — a mountainous municipality just east of Manila — saw a military helicopter circling low over a deserted area. Minutes later something fell out of the helicopter onto the rocks below. Then the aircraft clattered away.
Curious residents ran to see what had fallen.
They found the bloody, battered corpse of a young man. He had been cruelly treated. His head was bashed in, there were burn marks and dark bruises all over his body. On his torso, an examining doctor would later count 33 shallow wounds apparently gouged with an ice pick. Several meters away from where the body had fallen, somebody found an eyeball.
The police came, took the corpse to a funeral parlor and started the process of identifying the remains. Somebody remembered a news story about a teenager who had been missing for more than two weeks. He was 16-year-old Luis Manuel “Boyet” Mijares, son of Primitivo, a former aide of the dictator, President Ferdinand Marcos.
Later that day, the phone of Manila Judge Priscilla Mijares rang. Journalist and family friend Teddy Owen tried to break the news about her son gently to her, advising her to send somebody to the Filipinas Funeral Parlor to identify the victim.
The person she sent called back with the devastating news: “It’s your boy.” All that remained of her good-looking boy was a mangled, tortured body.
He had been kidnapped, because shortly after he vanished the family had started receiving phone calls demanding a ransom of P200,000.By then, Boyet’s sister Pilita recalled, a Philippine Constabulary official named Panfilo Lacson (who became a Philippine Senator in 2001) had been assigned to the case and managed to trace one of the calls to a building inside the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman, Quezon City.
Although the family told the kidnappers they would pay the ransom, the calls suddenly stopped.
Over the objections of the police, Judge Mijares had followed Owen’s advice to leak the news of her son’s kidnapping to the dailies. The news came out on May 30.
The next day, Boyet’s mangled body was found.
There was a huge turnout for Boyet’s wake, his mother told me in an interview.
He had just finished third year high school at Lourdes School of Quezon City and it seemed all the students attended.
After burying her boy at Marikina’s Loyola Memorial Park, Judge Mijares set out to solve his murder, starting with May 14, 1977, the day he disappeared.
She was not satisfied with how the case had turned out. Soon after Boyet was buried, Lacson’s anti-kidnapping unit claimed it had solved the case with the arrest of four UP students. Boyet, the police announced, was a victim of “hazing” — a violent initiation ceremony into a college fraternity. The three alleged killers (a fourth suspect was let off for lack of evidence) all came from UP’s Tau Gamma fraternity. Rolando Po and Emmanuel Patajo were sentenced to death but both managed to escape — Po from Pasig jail and Patajo from a maximum security prison by feigning an asthmatic attack. A third accused surnamed Abude died of a heart attack in detention.
None of the alleged killers was ever heard of again.
But why would Boyet want to join a college fraternity? He wasn’t even about to enter college, he still had a year of high school to finish.
And why would anybody want to kidnap him? The boy had no enemies. His hobby was harmless — catching butterflies and dragon flies and sticking them onto cotton to display them. He wanted to take up law like his parents.
Judge Mijares’ suspicions grew that her son’s case was not some random abduction.
It all came back to his father.
A journalist who had become a propagandist and confidant for Ferdinand Marcos, Primitivo “Tibo” Mijares had served his master faithfully since 1963 and had been privy to government’s high-level doings, its dirty little secrets and many of Marcos’ innermost thoughts.
When Marcos declared Martial Law in 1972, Mijares became a de facto “media czar”, a Cabinet member in all but name. A year later he was literally a mouthpiece of the dictator, his newspaper columns directly dictated to him by the President.
By then Mijares had also become a man with two secrets.
One will be explained in Chapter 1 of this book.
The other was that he had become disenchanted with Marcos. Mijares realized that the dictator’s goal wasn’t to save the country but to hold on to power indefinitely.
His wife recalled that “he was already fed up. He told me, nakakasuka na (it’s enough to make me vomit). I cannot swallow it anymore.”
In 1975 Tibo did the unthinkable. He convinced Marcos to send him to the US for an important propaganda mission and when he got there, he abandoned the regime and sought political asylum.
The confidant became a whistleblower. He appeared before the House International Organizations Subcommittee of the US Congress and testified about Marcos’ plot to grab power, his corruption and his regime’s human rights abuses. As if that wasn’t enough, Mijares later on published a 499-page book, The Conjugal Dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos I,which pulled no punches in exposing what the erstwhile propagandist knew. He regaled readers with detailed exposés on the crude and vicious avarice and misdeeds of the Marcoses, their relatives (such as Benjamin “Kokoy” Romualdez), cronies (such as Juan Ponce Enrile) and flunkies (such as Information Minister Francisco Tatad). He talked about Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos’ backgrounds, crimes, corruption and record of prevarication.
In his book, Mijares unloaded feelings he had apparently bottled up for years, calling Ferdinand Marcos a “tinpot dictator”, his wife Imelda an “old beauty queen” and their chief lackey Fabian Ver, a “pimp”. He also made mocking and sardonic remarks about the First Couple’s sexual proclivities, complete with not so veiled allusions to the parentage of one of the Marcos children as well as Imelda’s anatomy.
“Imelda was very angry with my husband because of this book,” Priscilla Mijares flatly told me during the interview, pointing to a copy of Conjugal Dictatorship.
It was the sort of publication that would have earned its author a horrible fate, if he were still in the Philippines. But Tibo was safe in the US, out of reach of the dictator. Or so he thought.
Apparently, in the third week of January 1977, Primitivo Mijares went to Guam on a speaking engagement. There, he was somehow lured to go back to Manila. According to Priscilla, “doon siya kinuha ni (that was where he was taken by) General Ver because Imelda asked General Ver to fetch him. He (Tibo) was (residing) in the US and then they went to Guam.”
“They” referred to Tibo, Ver and a newsman surnamed Makalintal, a nephew of Marcos’ former Chief Justice Querube Makalintal. Mijares described the newsman Makalintal as a “bata ng administration” (lackey of the Marcos administration).
I asked her why Tibo would even go with General Ver and she told me, “because my husband is matapang (brave), small but terrible. Fearless yon. (He’s fearless.)” Tibo was only five foot two inches tall, she said, which was why he was called Marcos’ “niño bonito” (wonder boy).
January 23, 1977 was the last time Primitivo Mijares had called home and asked to speak to every member of the family.
Four months later, his youngest son was kidnapped and murdered.
Recalling the day Boyet vanished, his mother said he had asked her permission to watch the movie Cassandra Crossing with some friends at Ali Mall — the country’s first shopping mall built in 1976 to celebrate boxer Muhammad Ali’s “Thrilla in Manila” victory over Joe Frazier. She had agreed but stipulated that “you wait for the car. The car will bring you there” after dropping her off somewhere else first.
“But he left the house without waiting for the car. He just asked the maid (Inday) to give him 20 pesos and some barya (coins),” Mijares recalled.
Later, the maid would reveal what Boyet had excitedly confided to her that day: “He said, Inday, I’m going to see my daddy today. So I will not wait for mommy. I will just use a bus in going to the place.”
“And it was my boy who told my maid that he was talking to his father (on the phone),” she told me.
The maid would also remind the Judge that the same man who had invited Boyet to watch the movie had been calling Boyet several times that month of May 1977. Mijares recalled there were times that the maid had told her that Boyet had been talking to “his phone pal”.
Through the years, the Judge gathered enough information to guess what had happened, but told only a few, like human rights lawyer and former Senator Jose Diokno. Judge Mijares would wait for over a decade before joining in the filing of a civil lawsuit against Marcos for the murder of her son and the disappearance of her spouse. She became one of the lead claimants in the damage suit filed in Hawaii by 10,000 human rights victims. Later, they collectively became known as “Claimants 1081”, named after Marcos’ infamous Proclamation 1081 imposing Martial Law.
In an oral deposition that she made for the Hawaii lawsuit, Judge Mijares called the family tragedy the result of “a political vendetta involving my husband Primitivo and our son Boyet.” As proof, she narrated the following facts of her case. She said that on October 23, 1974, her husband had left the country. On February 5, 1975, he had issued a “defection statement” in the US. In 1976, he had published his book on the conjugal dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos.
Then she said: “In January 1977, after the publication of the book Conjugal Dictatorship, my husband was lured into joining Philippine government agents, particularly Querube Macalintal, to come to the Philippines for a visit. That after my husband was lured into coming back, he was unheard of and could not be located until now.”
“That after my husband’s disappearance my youngest son, who is Manuel ‘Boyet’ Mijares, was kidnapped and brutally murdered on the last day of May 1977,” she said. The Judge linked in no uncertain terms her spouse’s disappearance with her son’s murder. She said she had obtained a lot of information that “during the torture of my son the father was made to appear by the torturers to witness his son’s agony. That the Commission on Human Rights then under the stewardship of Jose W. Diokno (in 1986) conducted an investigation. However, after his death, the case was never continued.”
In an interview on February 6, 2016, former Senator Panfilo Lacson confirmed to me that he was the “case officer” in the Boyet Mijares kidnap-for-ransom-slay case. He said it was the family who had informed him that the boy’s body had been found on May 31, 1977 but was unable to recall whether a military helicopter had dropped the corpse. Neither could he remember how the body ended up in Antipolo. He also said that while there were reports of a homosexual angle, he was not able to independently confirm it and “I did not have the heart to ask” the family.
He confirmed that the three suspects who were tried in court were all college students belonging to one fraternity. They all denied any hand in the kidnapping and murder. He did not know if they were convicted since he was not made to attend the court hearings.
When Boyet went missing in May 1977, Lacson said Priscilla Mijares never told him about any link between the boy’s abduction and the disappearance of her husband Primitivo four months earlier. In fact, he said, Mrs. Mijares “seemed elusive” in talking to Lacson about her husband. “Sensing that, I did not pursue the matter further,” he said.Lacson also recalled that long after the murder suspects were tried in court, he learned that Mrs. Mijares continued to quietly investigate the death of her son. He said he did not know why. He said that while he was on the case, he had treated it as a simple kidnap-for-ransom incident.
She said she had obtained a lot of information that “during the torture of my son the father was made to appear by the torturers to witness his son’s agony.”
– Introduction, Marcos Martial Law Never Again by Raissa Robles, pages 17-19.