This case. It’s been bugging me like a blackjack to the back of the head. Like a hangover headache after a night of cheap drinks and cheaper dames in a smoky joint somewhere without an address.
A serial forger is out there, skulking, robbing the country blind, taking topnotch lawmakers for a ride like helpless damsels stranded in a dark alley. He’s ruthless and he’ll strike again.
The shadowy maniac has faked several senators’ signatures one after another to funnel public moolah to this high-living broad Janet Napoles’ scam NGOs. Their shining reps are at stake. They may all end up in wheelchairs barreling to the airport, or languishing under hospital arrest.
No one has the faintest idea who this smooth operator is; even the president is as clueless as a nudist in a strip joint.
So I visit my old pal, Percy, aka Persistio Bongcal, private eye, trained Stateside as a gofer for Philip Marlowe in Hollywood and Sam Spade in foggy Frisco. His shingle hangs outside a messy low-rent office in Guadalupe, near that river with many drowned secrets.
Percy, old boy, I’m stumped. These top dogs all swear their John Hancocks have been forged. Are they just giving us a line, trying to give us the slip, eh?
“No, pal, there’s a real crook loose out there,” mumbles Percy, a lighted cigarette dangling from his lips. “Those high-class dudes know what they’re talking about. They’re pros themselves who’ve been around the block and batted a lot of fast balls.”
Percy takes a long drag. “Sotto and Enrile are for real. Believe me, Sotto can tell if something is not an original,” he growls, pouring us tumblers of cheap rum, neat.
“Ditto Enrile, he knows if it’s been faked or staged. He can sniff it like a madam can smell an undercover cop in a whorehouse. He can tell if an ambush is firing blanks or real lead. He can…”
Okay, okay, I get it. But what about snapshots showing the likes of Estrada and Revilla partying with Napoles, a dame they claim they don’t know?
“Listen, like your old hero Stalin used to fix photographs, they can do that stuff much better now with some gizmo called Photoshop. So zip it, that’s a dead end. Who I’m worried about is this babe in the woods, Marcos Jr., Bongbong to you. He doesn’t know what to do.”
Well, the young senator did say he was doing his own investigation, to find out who forged his signature and how. Percy wants to help him, but he’s too busy right now tailing two-timing husbands and dodging brass knuckles.
“But I have a tip for that young buck,” mutters Percy, swirling his drink and arching an eyebrow. “He doesn’t need to look too far from home.”
What? How’s that going to help?
“Young Marcos simply has to figure out who it was that his late father hired to fake the 33 World War II medals that made him the most decorated Filipino of all time. Find that guy—and voila, you’ve got at least a person of interest, if not a suspect.”
Why, of course! Why, that’s absolutely brilliant. Percy hasn’t lost it at all.
“The same master counterfeiter must have dreamed up the stacks of spurious battle citations for heroic exploits as well as his Mom and Dad’s fake bios, even that movie ‘For Every Tear-so-on- so-forth’.”
Here my old buddy falls silent and plunges into deep thought, his forehead furrowing with worry. What is it, Percy?
“There’s a big risk in taking my advice. If young Marcos Jr. wades into that inner sanctum where his old man stored all the fake stuff, he might stumble into something he wouldn’t wish to know. That his birth certificate is itself a forgery.”
What?! Not just his signature, but also his birth certificate—forged?!
“Yup, he’s not the real Bongbong Marcos,” Percy sighs. “The genuine article was killed in London in 1975 as a result of his bratty and bullying ways. This was after he shot and killed the actor Victor Wood, whose doppelganger recently ran for Congress. He, the current Bongbong, is a lookalike relative that Marcos Sr. adopted to–quote unquote–continue his bloodline and political dynasty.”
After finding out that the late dictator is not his real father, the current Bongbong can take it two ways, says Percy. “He can carry on as if nothing has changed, or he can be thankful that he no longer has to keep defending that old crook as if he’s the best thing since sliced bread.”
Relieved that there’s a key to the mystery of the forged signature after all, I head home after lending Percy cab fare. I tell the wife about seeing the hardboiled gumshoe. I just didn’t want Bongbong Marcos to suffer trial by publicity, I explain.
“Are you kidding me?” she snaps. “After what that family has been able to get away with, any kind of trial will do!
“And stop reading those pulp magazines your brother keeps sending in the balikbayan boxes. They’re cluttering up the living room.”