"Tell my wife I love her": The Beatles got off stage, they did not know their nightmare was just beginning
The Beatles arrived in the Philippines about six months after dictator Ferdinand Marcus came to power.
After insulting the dictator's wife, Imelda, they were privileged to experience the cruelty and corruption that would characterize the country for years.
In light of the rise to power of Marcus' son, we are back to the scary day in the lives of the Fantastic Four
Living Room Fellow
Friday, 20 May 2022, 08:29 Updated: 08:33
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Drummer Ringo Starr snatched a snooker in front of him and was thrown to the floor. He tried to crawl away from the angry crowd, but began to absorb kicks while lying on the floor. George Harrison and John Lennon received kicks and elbows as they tried to flee toward customs officers. "Relatively, while fleeing in a sprint. Band director Brian Epstein absorbed the full force of the crowd's rage. The violent crowd kicked Epstein until he fell to the floor. As a result of the attack he sprained his ankle and had to lean on his friends to get on the plane."
The previous paragraph, published in the Manila Times, the largest newspaper in the Philippines, described in real time what happened at the city's airport on Tuesday, July 5, 1966. It was a day after the Beatles made two historic appearances in the country.
Some of the things presented in the press report are false.
Ringo did not crawl on the floor.
Brian did not sprain his leg (he did suffer a punch and a sharp kick to the groin).
It was an exaggeration.
But the members of the Beatles, the most successful band in the world in those days, were violently attacked at the airport just before they left the country.
Just the day before they had appeared before 100,000 people.
The largest audience they have ever performed in front of.
what went wrong?
"The visit to the Philippines was very scary," Ringo later said, "it was probably the scariest thing that ever happened to me."
After the KLM plane that rescued them from the island took off, George looked out the window at the volume lights moving away from him, and hissed angrily: "I wish someone would drop a hydrogen bomb on Manila."
The rest of the band nodded in silent agreement.
In the short history of the Fantastic Four, which includes mostly ingenious music moments and also many spiritual moments full of love, this is one of the darkest and most violent stories.
Of the kind commonly omitted from the band's annals.
"The Beatles called for help and tried for their lives."
Tonight's cover of the Manila Tribune (Photo: Scan)
To understand what exactly happened there, first of all, get to know an English word that has no Hebrew translation: Imeldific.
The free dictionary Wiktionary defines the word Imeldific as "excessive ostentation, sometimes to the point of vulgarity."
The word is derived from the name of Imelda Marcus, the widow of Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcus, and the mother of Bong Bong Marcus, the president-elect, who won last Monday's election.
The dictatorship of Marcus Sr. was cruel.
Tens of thousands of opponents of the government were murdered in shocking ways.
Eyes were dislocated, genitals were mutilated and limbs were savagely torn from the body by wildlife.
Finally, body parts were dumped from helicopters and scattered on city streets as an explicit threat to anyone who tried to challenge the country’s military administration.
It was a rule based on fear.
Still, when you think of the dark 21 years of the Marcuses at the Malakening Palace in Manila, you first think of shoes.
The world has had many cruel leaders.
Lots of crazy tyrants - but the Marcuses have added Hollywood glam to the dictatorship.
The charismatic and eloquent Ferdinand was invited to address parliament houses around the world, while Imelda, a retired beauty queen, became a housewife in the world's most prestigious department stores.
When the masses stormed a palace and tried the Marcuses from the country, the world media was quick to report what was in it: 508 prom dresses, 15 fur coats, 888 handbags and the highlight - 3,000 pairs of shoes.
Some media outlets around the world have even exaggerated and reported 7,500 pairs.
A detailed investigation by Time magazine eventually revealed that the real number was "only" 1,060 pairs of shoes.
Inventory count in the basement of the Malaknying Palace, where the Imelda Marcus shoe collection is located.
1987 (Photo: GettyImages)
Imelda Marcus' precious taste did not stop only at clothing items.
She has curated in her home a rare collection of paintings, with some of the biggest names in art history like Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Michelangelo.
In fact, just this week, a painting by Picasso that was considered "lost" for decades was discovered in the palace.
She also collected wildlife, turning one of the Philippines into a wild zoo with animals she moved from Africa (not before inhumanely expelling all the islanders).
But while the media loved to mess with Imelda's glamorous life, the family amassed assets worth over $ 10 billion.
In a country where the average wage is $ 2 a day (or $ 730 a year), there is one way to reach such amounts: corruption.
In fact, the Marcus family entered the Guinness Book of Records for "the biggest theft of state funds."
The big money the family invested in real estate - they bought four skyscrapers in Manhattan, including the "Crown Tower" on Fifth Avenue and the tower on Wall Street 40, better known today as the "Trump Tower". In addition, they owned estates in London, Beverly Hills, Rome and more. Also an entire street in Seattle. Apart from real estate assets, the Marcuses were invested in hundreds (!) Of banks around the world.
The total amount has never been repaid, and some claim it is larger than estimated.
The English Wikipedia even has a detailed entry under the name: "The Inexplicable Wealth of the Marcus Family".
Serves for Imelda Marcus Umbrella during a shopping trip in London, 1973 (Photo: GettyImages)
The Beatles arrived in Manila six months in total after Marcus came to power.
He took his place, like many dictators in history, in a democratic way - but in retrospect it can be understood that even then he began to establish his status as a sole ruler.
Imelda, his photogenic and beloved partner, played an important role, along with his two daughters and only son - Bong Bong.
It was the last stop on the Beatles' summer tour in the summer of 1966. 8 shows in 11 days.
In his personal performance diary John Lennon wrote the list of performances: Munich, Essen, Hamburg (the word "torture" is written next to it).
The band then flew to Japan and made three appearances at the new Bodokan Hall in Tokyo.
From there the band continued to Manila for two performances in one day.
Next to the word "Manila" Lennon added in handwriting: "Almost fucking we were murdered by the government, just another working day for the Beatles."
"I hated the Philippines," Ringo said in 1995, "we got there and were greeted by thousands of children and hundreds of cops - and everything felt a little suspicious. Everyone had guns, and there was a sense of the Spanish Inquisition in the air."
The late George described the reception in a similar way: "Once we got there it was clear that this was bad news. There were tough gorillas there. Little people with short sleeves, who behaved in a very threatening way."
Imelda and Ferdinand Marcus during the military rule in the country (Photo: GettyImages)
In light of the Beatlemania that conquered the world in those days, the band's landing protocol in foreign countries was known in advance.
"We would not get off the plane like normal people," George explained. our.
We would not pass a security check, customs or passports.
Mel Evans (director of the tour) and Brian Epstein would take our passports and sign them at the immigration department without us. "
For the avoidance of doubt, when George speaks of "diplomatic suitcases," he is not referring to their musical equipment or personal luggage - but to handbags filled with marijuana.
This is also the reason why the Fantastic Four were so stressed, when the security people did not let the band's entourage collect the same bags.
"They started yelling, 'Leave the bags there! Get in the car!'" Harrison said, "This is the first time we've been bullied.
It was very disrespectful.
Elsewhere - America, Sweden, Germany - even though there was crazy mania around us, we were always received with a lot of respect because we were famous from the world of entertainment.
Manila had a negative feeling from the moment we got off the plane, so we were a little scared.
We got in the car as we were told, and a guy we did not know just drove the four of us, leaving Neil behind.
"Our bags were left behind, and I thought to myself, 'This is it, they're going to arrest us.'"
Neil Espinel, who began his career as the band's tour manager, and later progressed to be the four members' personal assistant, said that "the Philippine army was waiting for us on the runway."
While the band members were forcibly taken by car to an unknown destination, Espinal took advantage of the commotion on the spot to take the bags with the marijuana, and stuffed them in the trunk of a limousine parked in the area.
"Take me where they took the Beatles," he told the driver.
Luckily, he fell for a fan.
Responsible for diplomatic luggage.
The Beatles with Neil Espinal (Photo: GettyImages)
The vehicle that drove the Beatles was traveling in a secure convoy in six police vehicles.
They were children away from home, George was a total of 23 years old, and for the first time in a long time they were separated from the people closest to them.
It was a very unpleasant feeling, but they had each other.
They treated it as a negative experience, but still an experience.
Something they would laugh at one day.
Eventually their vehicle stopped at the Philippine Navy base, where a press conference was to be held.
Dozens of photographers were waiting for them at the venue, as well as a table with bottles of Mirinda and Pepsi, who sponsored the show.
In the photos from the event, the band members look tired.
George, John and Ringo wear sunglasses.
As anywhere else in the world, journalists asked them pretty silly questions.
“Were you so popular even if you did not have long hair?” One asked.
Another maintained the level: "When was the last time you got a haircut?".
They were also asked about the taxes they pay to the British Crown, and one journalist even asked, "How would you end the Vietnam War?".
To this question George answered: "I would just return it to whoever it belongs to."
One journalist asked what their next song would be called, and John replied: "Blues Philippines."
From the press conference the band members were taken by car to a private yacht of a wealthy Filipino citizen.
They were told it was Don Manolo Elizalda, who was a friend of the local producer who was in charge of the band's performance.
It was a lie.
"They took us in a motorboat from the port of Manila to a yacht moored outside the marina and gave us rooms," George said. "Mal and Brian Epstein. None of them were around, and not only that, there were rows of armed cops standing around us around our cabins. We were in a bad mood, very upset about the whole business. We were sorry we came there. .
"We were sorry we came there."
Ringo and George at a press conference upon their return to London from Manila (Photo: GettyImages)
Neil Espinel explained years later that the people who took the Beatles to the yacht were in no way connected to the show as they claimed.
In fact, these were members of a local gang.
It is not clear what their purpose was.
The Beatles did not know they were more or less kidnapped.
"Everything was very strange," Espinel said, "to this day I do not know why they were put on this boat."
Finally band director Brian Epstein arrived on the yacht along with the local producer.
"There were a lot of shouts and screams," George Harrison said, "at the end Brian told us to get off the ship. At the port, cars were waiting for us to take us to the hotel."
In their hotel rooms, the band members learned that their drugs were with Neil and their passports with Brian.
They calmed down.
They finally felt some peace.
In his book "John, Paul, George, Ringo and I", the band's communications officer, Tony Barrow, wrote that although the band members were grumpy, they actually enjoyed being cut off from the world for a few hours.
They arrived at the hotel only at four in the morning and went to bed at a very late hour, in order to rest for the two huge performances scheduled for them the next day.
100,000 people came to see them in two performances.
The largest audience they ever performed in front of him.
But their hosts were really not prepared to let them rest.
John Lennon and Ringo Starr woke up late in the morning in the same hotel room.
Yes, two of the world's most famous stars shared a room.
The truth is that they preferred it that way, probably in light of last night's circumstances.
Still in their beds, they ordered breakfast from the room service and asked that they bring them local newspapers as well, to see if they had written anything about the show.
Time passed, and breakfast did not arrive.
They called the room service again and asked them to hurry up with their reservation, but nothing happened.
They sat in their bed and chatted to them.
In the end, one of them turned on the TV.
What they saw there left them in utter shock.
The first thing that went through their minds was, "Okay, so that's why the room service does not bring us breakfast."
Despite the fame, John and Ringo shared a hotel room together (Photo: GettyImages)
In the next room George Harrison was still in his pajamas when he awoke to loud knocks on the door.
There were voices of hysteria in the hallway outside the room.
Finally someone just burst into the room, found the famous guitarist in bed and shouted, "Come on, you should be in the palace!".
The sleepy George responded dismissively: "What are you talking about? What palace? We are not going to any palace."
The soldier in the room kept shouting: "You should be in the palace! Turn on the TV!".
George turned on the TV, and then a very disturbing sight was revealed to his face.
"Local television broadcast live from the presidential palace," George said, "two huge rows of people could be seen in a wide marble corridor. In the center were children dressed in ceremonial attire. To be here. I sat in front of the TV in shock. I could not believe it, but I just sat in Fig.
"It was like a horror movie," Ringo repeated, "the television broadcast Mrs. Marcus' angry face shouting, 'They let me down!'. The camera focused on empty plates and empty chairs reserved for us. "He cried because he did not come."
This child, Ferdinand "Bong Bong" Jr., is the President-elect of the Philippines.
The boy who cried on TV became the president of the Philippines.
Ferdinand "Bong Bong" Marcus Jr. (Photo: GettyImages)
Whoever did not know about everything that was happening at the time was Paul McCartney.
At the time, he was walking alone on the "Wall Street" of Manila.
He bought some paintings at a local store and took pictures as a souvenir from the trip to the Far East, intending to return to the hotel to have lunch with friends.
Arriving at the hotel he was told by a number of locals that he must drive quickly to the palace.
"You had an agreement!", The locals told him.
Paul, a voice as usual, was quick to make it clear that this was a misunderstanding and the band never intended to visit the Royal Palace.
It was only at this point that he noticed that the people he had mistakenly thought of the show's organizers were actually soldiers of the Presidential Guard.
Everyone was armed, and they did not appear to have come to play.
Paul found his friends and they decided to lock themselves in one of the rooms and consider their steps.
At this point they realized something had happened, they just did not understand what.
Almost everywhere they went they were invited to stay at the home of a leader, minister or mayor - and they always politely declined.
Their already busy schedule did not allow them polite meetings.
At this point Brian arrived at the room with the Manila Sunday Times newspaper published the day before.
An article on the front page of the newspaper read: "President Marcus, the first lady, and the three young Beatles fans in the family were invited to be the guests of honor at the band's performances in Manila. In a conversation with Mrs. Marcus, "To be held at 11 a.m."
For the avoidance of doubt, none of the band members ever spoke to Imelda Marcus.
The one who did talk to the palace people was Ramon Ramos, the local promoter who was responsible for bringing the Fantastic Four to Manila.
Marcus' men turned to Ramos and explained to him that the children of the family really like the Beatles and that he should bring the band to the palace.
Even then, in his first year in office, it was clear that Ferdinand Marcus was not a man being told "no."
30 years earlier he had been convicted of the murder of a political opponent of his father.
He was released because the Supreme Court ruled that "he has too much potential to rot in prison."
That potential made him one of the most notorious dictators in history.
Ramos knew the Beatles would refuse to meet with the presidential family, so he simply chose not to update them on a meeting he had scheduled.
There was not much dilemma in choosing between insulting the murderous dictator or the polite guys from Liverpool.
The thing is that between the rush at the airport, the bizarre visit to the yacht and the two huge performances scheduled for that day - Ramos did not realize that even if they agreed, there is no way the Beatles could live up to the commitment he made on their behalf.
The meeting in question was scheduled for 11 a.m., followed by lunch at 3 p.m.
That is, an hour before the opening of the first of two performances at the local stadium.
"If Ramos had told Brian Epstein that they had invited the band to the palace on the day of a performance, he would have refused on their behalf," Tony Barrow wrote in his book. The band hated and avoided such diplomatic meetings,
Zealously guarded the "boys."
Brian Epstein with the Beatles (Photo: GettyImages)
Neil Espinal remembers the incident a little differently.
"I think an invitation arrived by telex or telegram to Brian Epstein and he simply answered 'no' politely."
According to Espinal's version this was a casual offer, and at no point does it appear to be a commitment made with the palace.
"The Beatles did not do such things. They did not interfere in politics and did not visit palaces. And yet, it is simply not true to say that they ignored the invitation, for them there was simply no chance of any of them saying yes to such a meeting."
In his book, Tony Barrow explains that the fanaticism with which Brian Epstein maintained the band members is what cost him the scandal.
"The Beatles were still asleep when the officers arrived and demanded that the Beatles be brought to the palace," Barrow writes, "they said loud and clear: 'This is not a request. , Threw on a shirt and pants and called me. We went together to Brian's room and found him eating breakfast late. Vick told me, 'I have to warn him. These people are brainwashed. It would not be wise to underestimate them.' I was not surprised when Epstein refused to compromise. ' I'm not even going to ask the Beatles about it. '
It turns out that while the band members were still asleep, they created an international diplomatic incident.
The British ambassador to Manila called Brian's hotel room, warning him he was "playing a dangerous game".
The ambassador hinted that the heavy security the Beatles enjoy in Manila is "courtesy of President Marcus."
The hint was clear: this security could disappear, and even be overturned.
is not that a loss?
Paul has such a beautiful face.
Brian kept insisting that the whole thing was out of proportion.
He made it clear to the ambassador that he had a lot of work to do, as to the rest of the entourage, and set out to deal with his day-to-day affairs in preparation for the two giant performances.
According to Barrow, if Brian had just chosen to wake up the band members and explain to them what was going on, he could have saved himself a juicy groin kick.
John Lennon agreed with Barrow's claim.
"It was a very scary experience, and it was all in the wake of Brian's failure. He accepted an invitation, refused it, and did not update us. The next day they refused to accept our refusal, and then all the screaming started,
"A very scary experience."
John Lennon at a press conference in London upon their return from Manila (Photo: GettyImages)
Most of the Beatles' entourage had not eaten in all three of their days in Manila.
Even the band members themselves barely got a dose of energy ahead of the most grueling day of gigs in their lives.
When they finally agreed to bring them breakfast (in the late afternoon), they were given a bowl of dry cornflakes with spoiled milk.
If the smell was not a clear enough hint, the lumps floating inside the milk jugs were evidence of what their hosts thought of the world's most successful band.
Exhausted, hungry and scared - they set out for one of the highlights of their careers.
100,000 people in two performances.
"We had a very big problem with the shows in the Philippines. When we got to the stadium in Manila we realized that someone was making money at our expense," George Harrison explained. "In Monterey, I think there were 200,000 people there."
Despite the television broadcast of the "disdain" of the Beatles members of the presidential family, the audience at the performances received the Beatles with great love.
For the band this was another "scream show".
Tens of thousands of Filipino girls scream while they do not even hear themselves singing.
Their tools were unintentional, but no one seemed to mind.
What the band members did not know was that while they were performing in front of tens of thousands of fans, the general public opinion about them across the Philippines changed sharply, and quickly.
The television broadcast of the meeting that was not between the Marcus family and the Beatles became a national affair.
For an hour the photographers in the palace photographed the faces of the hosts turning from excited to disappointed - and finally, furious.
After an entire hour sitting at the empty table, First Lady Imelda Marcus stood up and declared, "Children may have all the time in the world, but we are busy people."
The camera still photographed the name cards placed on the chairs next to the table: John, Paul, George and Ringo.
A smart servant hurried and removed the cards before the camera could focus on them.
The Beatles' first appearance was at four o'clock, and the second was scheduled for eight-thirty.
Between performances, a local Channel 5 team arrived at the band's hotel to film an official apology from Brian Epstein on behalf of the band.
Brian politely explained the misunderstanding and apologized for the whole incident.
“Surprisingly,” the camera crew was unable to record Brian's remarks, and his speech was broadcast on Philippine television without a voice.
By this point it was already clear.
The Filipino people are offended by the name of their leader.
At the end of the second show the Beatles were surprised to find that the heavy security that had accompanied them throughout their trip to the Philippines was gone.
They got into their convoy of cars and found that the stadium gates were locked.
Several dozen people crowded around the cars.
They were not fans.
They started rocking the cars and hitting the windows.
They spat and cursed.
"They were thugs to hire," George Harrison later explained.
Finally the entourage managed to reach the hotel safely.
A local police car was waiting for them at the hotel, and officers demanded to take Vic Lewis for questioning.
For an entire night he was asked the same question over and over again: "You represent the Beatles. Why didn't you bring them to the palace?".
The sun was already shining when the police finally returned him to the hotel.
A souvenir from a show that the Beatles prefer to forget.
The double appearance poster in Manila (Photo: Scan)
Their last morning in the Philippines was supposed to be happy.
They decided to postpone the return to London for a few days and travel for the first time to India together.
They had no obligation to perform there, it was supposed to be a vacation for everything after a grueling tour, just before another long tour in America.
In practice, it became one of the hardest days of their lives.
The morning headlines were clear.
"The Beatles humiliated the first family," one headline said.
Another read: "Anger over the Beatles' contempt."
Another newspaper, which already knew where the butter was smeared in the emerging dictatorship of the Marcus family, wrote: "Imelda stood up: the first family waited in vain for the heads of the rags."
An official press release from the palace said that "the Beatles spat in the eyes of the first family."
Imelda was quoted as saying she did not like the music of her friends from Liverpool at all.
And there was also one headline that managed to make the band members laugh that gloomy morning, the one where it was written that the Beatles were a breeze even though they were the ones who demanded to meet Imelda Marcus in the first place.
"We woke up in the morning to huge headlines in the local newspapers," Paul McCartney later said. "At the hotel we are treated in a disgusting way. In the end we ran out of the lobby as if we were running away without paying the bill."
Hotel staff were instructed not to serve the band members, who had to carry their own equipment.
But Brian was busy with bigger troubles.
At eight o'clock in the morning a man with a shiny suit arrived at the hotel.
He was carrying a brown executive briefcase, containing an envelope for Brian Epstein.
The envelope had a requirement to pay tax on the profits of the show.
Brian knew that paying taxes was the responsibility of the local producer, but the mysterious man was clear: "If you do not pay the full amount now, you will not be able to leave the country."
Brian had to pay 74,450 pesos to the Marcus regime to leave the country.
In those days it was about $ 20,000.
Something like $ 183,000 today.
In other words: for all the trouble, their trip to the Philippines ended in a big financial loss to the Beatles.
"Any attempt to argue the fine was unnecessary," Tony Barrow wrote in his book, "our ultimate goal was to get the Beatles out of this country as quickly as possible."
Entered the lions' den.
The band's press officer, Tony Barrow (Photo: GettyImages)
The Beatles' trip out of the Philippines was particularly scary.
A riot broke out outside the hotel.
Local thugs, some in military uniforms, began to close in on the Beatles' entourage from all directions.
Guns were pulled out and showcased.
Some fired into the air.
The spontaneous commotion brought to the scene more brainwashed with sticks and improvised batons.
They threatened the band members. "The whole place turned on us," George said, "we did not know how to get to the airport. Everyone on the street shouted and screamed at us. No one agreed to drive us… Two things happened at the same time, on one side were the people sent "Curse us and try to beat us, and on the other hand there were also young fans who were still trying to touch us as part of the Beatlemania."
Finally, when a courteous driver was found who agreed to drive them to the airport, they discovered that the government was doing everything in its power to continue to embitter their lives on the island.
A local traffic cop was sent to stop traffic near the airport, forcing the vehicle in which the band members were traveling to go around in a traffic circle non-stop.
Finally, the four thanked the driver and left for the airport on foot.
At the airport they found that the elevators and escalators had been disabled.
The entourage members found themselves carrying their luggage up the stairs, which included musical instruments and other heavy equipment.
Once they reached the destination floor, the elevators and stairs suddenly resumed operation.
After more bureaucratic and logistical hassles, the entourage managed to get to the departing flight terminal thinking it was, the nightmare was over.
In fact, now he's just getting started.
Marcus' soldiers terrorize the country during military rule (Photo: GettyImages)
"הגענו למין לאונג' של טיסות יוצאות", סיפר ג'ורג', "ולפתע מצאנו את עצמנו מוקפים בבריונים. אלה היו אותם אנשים עם שרוולים קצרים שקיבלו את פנינו שנחתנו במדינה לפני יומיים. אלף ביקנל (הנהג האישי של הביטלס שנהג לטוס איתם ברחבי העולם - ע"ס) היה איתנו ועזר לנו, וראיתי אותו חוטף אגרוף בפרצוף מאחד הבריונים. הם התחילו לכתר אותנו, וצעקו לנו הוראות ודרשו מאיתנו ללכת איתם. לבסוף מצאתי שני נזירים בודהיסטיים והתחבאתי מאחוריהם".
גם ג'ון ורינגו התחבאו מאחורי שתי נזירות. "חשבנו לעצמנו שזאת מדינה קתולית, אז הם בטוח לא ירביצו לנזירות", התבדח לימים רינגו. אלא שבזמן אמת המצב ממש לא שעשע אף אחד, להפך. "כשהגענו לשדה התעופה הייתי משותק מפחד", סיפר ג'ון לנון בריאיון לאחר מספר ימים, "חשבתי שהולכים להכות אותי. התחבאתי מאחורי שלוש נזירות ושני נזירים, במחשבה שאולי זה מה שימנע ממני להיפגע. הם אמרו לנו: 'אנחנו נתייחס אליכם כמו לכל נוסע אחר' ואנחנו אמרנו: 'נוסעים רגילים? אתם לא בועטים בנוסעים רגילים, נכון?'. היו שם בערך חמישה בריונים שהיו אחראים לכל הדחיפות והקללות. מתתי מפחד. הייתי מאוד עדין וזזתי בכל פעם שהרגשתי שאחד מהם מתקרב אליי".
"זה היה מאוד מפחיד", סיפר ניל אספינל, "שום דבר כזה לא קרה לנו לפני, ושום דבר כזה לא יקרה לנו מאז". גם פול מקרטני סיפר שהוא היה מפוחד, אבל בעיקר לגבי הפמליה שלהם. "הבריונים הוציאו את רוב האגרסיות שלהם על הצוות שלנו, למזלנו. אני חושף שאלף נזרק מכל המדרגות בצורה מאוד אלימה עלי ידי אחד מהם. הרגשנו קצת אשמים, למרות שזאת לא באמת הייתה אשמתנו. הדבר היחיד שידענו שאנחנו חייבים לעשות זה לא להגיב. הם בעטו בנו ודחפו אותנו, אבל כל עוד לא הגבנו - זה נשאר רק בגדר דחיפות ובעיטות. אם היינו מחזירים, זה היה יכול להיגמר הרבה יותר גרוע".
בלי התגרות מצדו, בריאן אפשטיין ספג אגרוף לפרצופו ובעיטה למפשעה. חבריו לצוות ספגו אלימות קשה אפילו יותר. הנהג והחבר אלף ביקנל סדק את אחת הצלעות וספג פציעה בעמוד השדרה. מל אוונס חטף בעיטה לצלעות ונגרר לאורך הרצפה. למטוס הוא הגיע צולע, כשכל רגלו ספוגה בדם. "עשינו הכל כדי להגן על ג'ון, פול, ג'ורג' ורינגו ממהלומות ישירות", כתב בספרו טוני בארו, "ויק לואיס ואני היינו האחרונים לעלות למטוס. ויק החזיק את כף ידו פתוחה מאחורי גבו, והסביר שהוא מנסה לשמור על עמוד השדרה שלו מירי צלפים".
עלה למטוס צולע כשרגלו ספוגה בדם. מל אוונס עם רינגו סטאר(צילום: GettyImages)
כשחברי הלהקה והצוות עלו על טיסת KLM 862 הם נרגעו. "זאת הייתה ההרגשה הטובה בעולם", תיאר מאוחר יותר ג'ורג' הריסון את החוויה. "כשעלינו למטוס, נישקנו את הכיסאות", סיפר פול מקרטני, "הרגשנו כאילו העניקו לנו מקלט". אלא שגם אז הסיוט לא נגמר. בזמן שהמטוס כבר היה מוכן להמראה, הודיעה הכריזה במטוס שמר אפשטיין, מר בארו ומר אוונס מתבקשים לרדת מהמטוס.
"שלושת החברים שלנו נאלצו לרדת, והם נראו מבוהלים", סיפר ג'ורג', "מל הלך באיטיות ופרץ בבכי. כשהוא עבר לידי הוא אמר: 'תמסור לאשתי ליל שאני אוהב אותה'". הוא חשב שזהו זה, המטוס ימריא בלעדיו והם יישארו תקועים במנילה. זאת הייתה תחושה נוראית של 'פאקינג הל, מה הולך לקרות עכשיו?'".
רינגו היה בטוח שהולכים לקחת את כולם למעצר. "התחלתי לדמיין איך לוקחים אותנו לכלא, בגלל שזו הייתה דיקטטורה, ובדיקטטורה אתה מאבד את כל הזכויות שלך, לא משנה מי אתה. החלטנו שלא משנה מה, אנחנו לא יורדים מהמטוס". זה לקח 45 דקות (בזכרונותיו, ג'ורג' מתאר את זמן ההמתנה כשעתיים, כנראה כי כך זה באמת הרגיש), אך לבסוף הצוות של הביטלס הורשה לעלות שוב על המטוס. "הם לקחו את טוני בארו לתוך גוב האריות, והכריחו אותו לשלם 'מס שדה תעופה' שהם המציאו במקום", סיפר פול מקרטני. "למעשה, הם פשוט לקחו את כל הכסף שהרווחנו בהופעות", הבהיר הריסון והוסיף: "העיקר שיצאנו משם. זו הייתה כזאת תחושה טובה. הרגשתי כזאת טינה כלפי האנשים האלה".
דקות לאחר שהמטוס של הביטלס המריא מעל אדמת הפיליפינים, שחרר הנשיא מרקוס הודעה לעיתונות שמנקה את הביטלס מכל אשמה. "לא הייתה שום כוונה מצד הביטלס לפגוע בגברת הראשונה או בממשל של רפובליקת הפיליפינים", תוכן ההודעה. לימים סיפר פול מקרטני שלאור סיפורי הזוועה שנחשפו על המשטר של בני הזוג מרקוס, הוא שמח שהוא זכה "להשפיל" אותם, אפילו אם לא בכוונה. "אנחנו היינו היחידים שהעזו לזלזל במשפחת מרקוס, אבל עברו הרבה שנים עד שלמדנו באמת מה עשינו מבחינה פוליטית".
"עברו שנים עד שלמדנו באמת מה עשינו". הביטלס נוחתים בלונדון לאחר הסיוט במנילה(צילום: GettyImages)
אף אחד מחברי הביטלס לא חזר מעולם לפיליפינים, לאור העובדה שהמדינה נשלטת היום שוב על ידי משפחת מרקוס - ספק אם זה גם אי פעם יקרה. ג'ון לנון היה הנחרץ מכולם, כשהכריז בטלוויזיה הבריטית: "אף מטוס לא הולך לנחות בפיליפינים כשאני עליו. אני אפילו לא אסכים לשבת במטוס שיעבור מעל המקום הזה. אנחנו פשוט לעולם לא נתקרב לבית המשוגעים הזה שוב".
אלא שהחוויה הקשה במנילה הכריעה משהו אפילו גדול יותר מאשר חרם על הפיליפינים. כשנחתו בלונדון לאחר כמה ימים, נפגשו ארבעת המופלאים עם מפיק הלהקה ג'ורג' מרטין והודיעו לו שהם החליטו להפסיק להופיע. "המסע למנילה היה המסמר האחרון בארון הקבורה הזה", הסביר ניל אספינל. ג'ורג' מרטין נאלץ להסביר לחברי הלהקה שנותרו להם 15 הופעות מתוכננות בחודש הבא בארה"ב, וביטול שלהם יעלה להם מיליון דולר (כ-9 מיליון דולר של ימינו). הם עמדו בהסכם. וזהו.
אימלדה מרקוס עם גופתו החנוטה של פרדיננד ב-2015. במשך יותר מ-25 סירבו הרשויות הפיליפיניות לקבור את הרודן(צילום: רויטרס)
ב-29 באוגוסט 1966, חודש וחצי אחרי שחזרו ממנילה, הביטלס הופיעו בסן פרנסיסקו בפעם האחרונה בפני קהל חי. אחרי 21 שנים בשלטון, פרדיננד מרקוס ובני משפחתו גורשו בעקבות מהפכה עממית בשנת 1986. הוא חי בגלות בהוואי עד מותו ב-1989. השלטון המקומי בפיליפינים סירב לקבור את גופתו עד שנת 2016. אימלדה חזרה לגור בפיליפינים יחד עם משפחתה בשנת 1993.
בעקבות שנים של שטיפת מוח, העם הפיליפיני החל להיזכר בתקופתו של מרקוס בנוסטלגיה לאומנית מעוותת. ילדים חונכו בבתי הספר להאמין שתקופתו של מרקוס הייתה תקופה של פריחה ושגשוג. אימלדה מרקוס בת ה-92 הריצה לנשיאות את בנה פרדיננד ג'וניור, או בשמו המוכר יותר בונג בונג מרקוס (מכונה גם BBM). ב-9 במאי 2022 הוא נבחר לתפקיד נשיא המדינה. שווי ההון שנגנב מאזרחי המדינה, ועדיין מצוי בחזקת משפחת מרקוס, מוערך במעל ל-5 מיליארד דולר - כחמישה אחוזים מהתקציב הלאומי של המדינה. יש דברים שאפילו ג'ון לנון לא יכול היה לדמיין.