FORMER President Ferdinand Marcos’ mortician passed away at the age of 67 on September 18 after suffering from a heart attack. He is survived by his 68-year-old widow and seven children.
Frank Malabed, whose father was also an embalmer, first dreamed of becoming an engineer. Growing up with his father, he learned the ropes and ended up following the footsteps of his father.
If there was any “big break” in his calling, it might have been when he was assigned to handle the remains of former First Lady Imelda Marcos’ sister.
This stint was the start of his work with the Marcos family.
Malabed had also embalmed Marcos’ mother, Doña Josefa Edralin-Marcos, who died a year before the strongman’s passing.
“I make people beautiful even in death,” he was once quoted as saying.
Unknown to many, Malabed was also the mortician who handled the remains of former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, former interior secretary Jesse Robredo, and the parents of former president Fidel Ramos.
Last year, Malabed spoke about his experience when he first handled the remains of former president Marcos.
“When I saw him, he was already embalmed but there was something wrong and it was not okay,” he said.
As a perfectionist in his work, Malabed said that it took him three weeks to effectively preserve the body.
“From 1989 to 1993, I had to be in Hawaii almost monthly to oversee the maintenance of former president Marcos’ remains,” he said.
Last Sunday, Malabed spoke to his eldest child, Joy Malabed-Cruz, as if he would no longer be around for their upcoming embalming work.
“Ang dami niyang binibilin… para siyang wala sa mangyayaring serbisyo (He had so many reminders, as if he would not be there to perform upcoming work),” Cruz said, noting that her father usually gave minimal instructions.
Malabed’s family described him as a staunch Marcos loyalist.
“From Hawaii to the Philippines, my father took care of Marcos’ remains, the flowers, among others. He believed so much in the former president. That is what I saw in my father,” Cruz said.
She said she is willing to continue her father’s legacy.
“I want to continue this. But it is not easy and there is a lot of pressure. I am not even that close to my father’s caliber in embalming. He really had the passion to have his own funeral home,” Cruz said.
At the La Funeraria Paz, Malabed was embalmed by his handpicked mortician.
“It would have been too difficult for any of us to embalm our father,” Cruz said, adding that she was nonetheless able to witness the entire process.
Of Malabed’s seven children, three are licensed morticians, including Cruz.
Malabed’s remains lie at The Loyola Memorial Chapel and Crematorium in Guadalupe, Makati City and will be interred on Monday (September 25).