This morning in Manila, living a Travelife, I read in the media about the death of the actor Alfie Anido in the 1980s, as retold by Senator Juan Ponce Enrile in his hefty, no holds barred memoirs that he launched recently via a very grand party at the Peninsula Manila.
It was a trip down memory lane for me, because I was somehow involved in this, although it’s an incident I’d long forgotten until it resurfaced today in the newspapers.
Scroll down to read more about my role in this mystery…
The death of Alfie Anido was a suicide, Senator Enrile wrote in his memoirs, and this was reprinted in the media today.
However his son Jack was linked to the death by the late General Fabian Ver, because General Ver was reportedly angry that Senator Enrile — then the Minister of Defense under the late President Marcos — had intervened in a bitter rivalry between General Ver and a certain Boy Tuzon; and Senator Enrile had helped Boy Tuzon flee the country.
This is all in Senator Enrile’s memoirs.
Senator Enrile also wrote that General Ver was angry at Boy Tuzon as they were rivals for the affection of a certain woman, and that General Ver was then trying to get Boy Tuzon hurt or even killed.
Senator Enrile had stepped into the picture and asked Col. Thelmo Cunanan, the intelligence chief of the Department of National Defense at that time, to “handle the problem” and get Boy Tuzon out of the Philippines and to safety somehow.
He then recounted how Col. Cunanan and Boy Tuzon had taken a private plane to Sabah and then onwards to the United States.
This is where I come into the picture because Col. Cunanan was my father.
Scroll down to read more…
I was a little girl then, and it was summer holidays; and my mother and I had just arrived in Singapore after a three-week trip to Europe, enroute to Manila.
Yes, my Travelife started early, so I’m not kidding when I say that we’re real travelers at Travelife Magazine (compared to other magazines, staffed by writers who travel mainly because they work for a travel magazine) and this is the main reason why we’re the #1 travel and lifestyle publication in the country.
Anyway, we’d flown from London to Singapore on Singapore Airlines. In Singapore, we’d met my father for dinner. Being a little girl, I had no idea then what he was doing in Singapore, but I’d assumed that he’d flown to Singapore to meet us after our holiday.
There was a lot of serious discussions between the adults, which of course I’d not paid attention to. But I assumed that we were all returning to Manila from Singapore as school was about to start soon.
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Instead, that same night, my father announced that we were flying straight to Hong Kong in a few days, before going to Manila. I was pretty happy about this as it just meant an extension of my holiday.
The day we were set to fly to Hong Kong, my father sat me down and made me a strange request. We were all going to Hong Kong from Singapore, he said, but I was to check in at Changi Airport, walk through the terminal, and ride in business class with his friend, and pretend to be his friend’s daughter.
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Upon landing in Hong Kong, I was to keep pretending that I was his friend’s daughter until we got into the car at the airport, arrived at the Hong Kong Hilton, and checked in.
Perhaps I was already very independent then, because even if I was a little girl, I remember that I had no problem doing this.
The man — who was Boy Tuzon himself, General Ver’s nemesis — seldom spoke, but he was nice and we traveled together from the time we arrived at Changi Airport in Singapore, took our Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong, arrived at Kai Tak Airport in Hong Kong and checked into the Hong Kong Hilton.
At the Hong Kong Hilton — which was one of the top three hotels in Hong Kong then, together with the Mandarin Oriental and the Peninsula Hong Kong — I was given my own room. And I recall that it was a very fancy suite with beautiful Oriental decor and a view of Hong Kong harbor. So, again, yes, I started a Travelife pretty early.
The other thing I particularly recall regarding this trip — my very first taste, if not my only taste, of the cloak and dagger world, you might say — was that I’d drank so much orange juice in Cathay Pacific’s business class that eventually the stewardess came up to me to tell me that they’d run out of orange juice.
I’d heard that General Ver’s men were on the lookout all over the Philippines and Asia for a man traveling alone — they didn’t yet know then whether Boy Tuzon was still hiding in the Philippines or whether he’d actually been able to escape the country via some back door — and so I had been the decoy.
They were reportedly trolling the airports around the region and they would have had a harder time identifying Boy Tuzon as the man they were looking for, since he was traveling under an assumed name and with a little girl as well.
So, although I don’t have any direct connection with the Alfie Anido incident, I can certainly attest to the fact that the case that Senator Enrile linked to it, concerning the rivalry of General Ver and Boy Tuzon, really happened.
And it brought back memories of a rather early start to a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.