Miracles of Quiapo 4

Chapter 9: Rise of “The Eyes”

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As Junie rises to become the Vice Mayor of Manila, Boy Deo establishes himself as an adviser and confidante. His reputation as barangay executive preceding him, Junie builds a solid following not only among the constituents of Manila but also among the thin elite and influential crowd. Media begins to cartoonize him as the new “Cinderella of Philippine politics.” The Senate investigation and the publicity generated by Boy Deo’s testimony further boost Junie’s political future. The local elections are just weeks away and Junie maintains his lead in pre-poll surveys among Manila mayoralty candidates. Poised to become the next mayor of Manila, Junie instead gets savagely murdered in an ambush. Boy Deo replaces him as candidate and goes on to win the mayoralty derby.


From far away Biringan, Teresa’s neighbors had gathered inside her scant living room to watch the senate investigation on live TV. She had earlier told them she recognized Vice Mayor Junie Justicador and whose mention of the melee at the Aguinaldo Underpass that led to his father’s death had brought her reminiscing of a trying life from years ago. When Junie mentioned Boy Deo’s name, her heart jumped. When the senators unexpectedly called Boy Deo to testify, she found it hard to compose herself. Even before she saw him beside Junie, she thought she also saw him at the One Nation Workshop, but she remained unsure of Boy Deo’s identity until Junie mentioned his name.

Teresa thought there was nothing else that Boy Deo could do to surprise her. But his exposé on her sister Waday reminded her of how often she underestimated his resourcefulness. She remembered she told Katalina about seeing Waday at the Correctional before she left Aparición for Biringan a week after Luzie’s death. Beyond that, there was nothing else by which Boy Deo could be familiar with Waday’s case.

She did see Waday at the Correctional Institute; she found her able to somehow cope with her emotional burden. The problem was not so much about the putrid condition of the prison facilities as it was about nursing the thought that one was in jail for a crime committed by another. Dayamante’s wife had paid the parents of his victim to sue Waday; she also paid witnesses who testified that Waday was behind the wheel when the Land Cruiser rammed into the wooden cart where the infant was sleeping.

Waday had already served forty-six long years of her reclusion perpetua sentence. Each day of incarceration compounded the injustice imposed on her. Teresa vowed that she would do anything within her means to ask the court to reopen Waday’s case. When Boy Deo brought it up in a forum that was followed by practically the entire country, she knew that Waday had a chance. But for an ongoing workshop she was facilitating for fisherfolks in Biringan, she could have boarded the next flight from nearby La Profesa City to Manila. There were two very urgent itineraries: one, to see the vice mayor where she was certain she would be meeting Boy Deo for the first time since she left him almost twenty years ago and, two, revive Waday’s case.

IT LOOKED LIKE City Hall was having a fiesta. Banners—propelled to exuberance by an occasional breeze from the Manila Bay—hanged from its windows, extolling the vice mayor and his executive assistant, Boy Deo. Confetti dropped from nearby buildings. Music bands played live music at the quadrangle. Big-time caterers and fast-food outlets offered free food and refreshments for city government employees and their guests.

Today, 22 February 2013, was Junie’s 29th birthday.

Eleven days ago, he, Gidaben, and Boy Deo rocked the senate investigation with their explosive testimonies. Starting with the evening news on that day, until today, the media could not seem to get enough of footage taken on that day of revelations at the senate.

Streams upon streams of distinguished visitors called on Junie in his office. Government officials, business moguls, entertainers, academicians, and politicians of all persuasions congratulated and wished him luck. Ambassadors and diplomats broke protocol to hobnob with the latest Cinderella of Philippine politics.

Monsignor Ubanon and Father Andoy, who also sought an audience with Boy Deo, also came. Ubanon said he wanted to hug both young men after they gave their testimonies, but the ensuing chaos prevented him from doing so. He further said that linking Sylvia Monir’s testimony to that of Father Andoy got them excited; they entertained the idea that Boy Deo was the one the Quiapo clergy had baptized as Leandro Deo Renato Moscavida in March of 1976. But when the vice mayor mentioned his name as Deodatu Biradayon, they felt heartbroken. But just the same, the priests found it awesome that Boy Deo had finished his high school education at the Quiapo Catholic School.  

Media networks encamped their transmission equipment within the vicinity of City Hall. Reporters milled about in the hope of being the first to break stories regarding Junie and Boy Deo.

Broadsheets and tabloids made a killing with headlines like “Gidaben Dunks the Police into a Dustbin of Shame,” “El Chapo’s Confessions,” “Senate Digs Up A 20-Year-Old Grave,” “Nation Mourns with Junie,” “Vinegar Boy Deo: The Man Who Exposed a Fake Diamond,” “From the Eyes to the Brain to the CCTV,” “Dayamante Gone Forever?”, etc.

The fallout from the senate investigation was quick and nasty. Makatigbas and his allies in the senate did not object to a multi-party proposal for Dayamante to be investigated further by the Ethics Committee. The Justice Department pulled out Waday Biradayon’s folder and was quoted by the press the other day claiming that there was basis to reopen her case, given Boy Deo’s sworn testimony. 

Mayor De Mozo tried to weather what for him had been a turbulent week by downplaying the digressions of the recently concluded senate investigation as politically motivated.

He was right, of course. A year ago, the base constituencies of both he and Makatigbas were pushing hard to project them as possible frontrunners for the presidential derby in 2016. Now, with a little over a year to go before the elections, they grappled with urgent questions of how to control the damage that had been inflicted on their principal’s respective reputations. Almost everyone knew that the humps erected by their unmasking were too high to overcome: De Mozo was unmasked by the senate; Makatigbas was embarrassed by the police chopper crash. Hecklers in media had commented that the two of them might have seen the last of their happy days.

While both De Mozo and Makatigbas had police and military backgrounds, it was De Mozo who enjoyed greater support from the military establishment. Makatigbas, on the other hand, had broadened his constituency among the pillars of big business. Anything that debased the credibility of the police hurt De Mozo’s reputation more than it did Makatigbas’s. So, yes, he was right: the senate investigation reeked of political odor. At first, he could not sniff it from afar, but soon, even with Dayamante coming in as the fumbling knight with shining armor, as it were, he knew his rude awakening was coming. Ode to the elders, he berated himself, who had warned him of how rotten politics could be.

While the investigation started with an exposé of wayward orphanages and corrupt judges, it ended with rogue cops. By the inescapable inference that De Mozo was one of the rogue cops, if not the top rogue cop himself, his political future had been crushed to irrelevance. His efforts to mitigate the institutional damage by explaining through media interviews that rogue cops constituted but a very small minority in the entire police force sounded like he had never been a bad cop. But he merely pounded more nails on his political coffin. The more he opened his mouth, the more media came up with reports of his involvement in organized criminal activities. The greatest fear of all—that his OXD links could be exposed—hounded him toward the exit of an otherwise financially rewarding public life.

IT WAS AN EMOTIONAL REUNION, to say the least, when Teresa met Boy Deo inside Junie’s office. The surrogate mother and surrogate son talked for almost an hour privately, after which Junie offered to bring her to their Iztapalapa home so she could also see his mother, Katalina, whom Teresa had valued like a sister.

Joey Ty wanted to celebrate Junie’s rise in politics by donating his real estate property in Iztapalapa. However, Junie insisted that he pay for it, even in several installments. It was therefore with reluctance that Joey eventually sold the property to the vice mayor.

Junie had the apartment renovated and expanded to accommodate the garage for his city government-issued vehicle. Quite an indication of what now appeared to be his unstoppable rise to the highest office of the city government were more offers of real estate properties from top developers; all he needed to do was grab them. The city mayor, after all, had the power to decide on the issuance of building permits for multibillion shopping malls, hotels, and residential condominiums that were in the pipeline. 

Five of them—Teresa, Katalina, Guimo, Junie and his wife Sarah, Boy Deo—happily recalled their Quiapo days. “Isn’t it a miracle,” Katalina said, “we can talk about our hardships with laughter?”

“Yes, it truly is,” Teresa agreed, “we are not only alive—which is a daily miracle—but we are also thriving.” She elaborated on what she meant; she referred not only to the success that Junie and Boy Deo were having in their respective careers, but also to Junie’s success in building a family, with an obvious reference to Sarah who was expecting her second child.

Teresa shared stories of her personal life after Luzie’s death. Back in Biringan, she entertained a couple of suitors. But her work as area and community development coordinator took much of her time away from romantic attachments, whether of the seriously committed or the fleeting just-for-fun kind. In time, she underwent formation, and eventually took vows, as one among the Theresian Sisters in La Profesa City.

Before she could continue, Guimo butted in. “How about Boy Deo? Can we hear your love story?” The cheerfulness in Guimo’s banter had not disappeared in all these years.

“Only politicians like Junie are under pressure to marry, I suppose, if it is true that politics is addition.” Boy Deo tried to match Guimo’s jovial mood. “But seriously, don’t be surprised if I become a priest or brother someday, just like Mommy.” Boy Deo winked at Teresa.

“Or a military general!” Junie brought up rehashed news. “There is a standing scholarship offer from Joey for either of us to go to the military academy.”

“Yes, sir!” Sarah was quick to the draw, complete with a hand salute. “You can be the good cop.”

Everybody was enjoying each other’s company. They shared rounds and rounds of laughter.

No one was happier than Junie’s mother for his success. Katalina remembered that even at a young age, Junie knew how to pick his words.

Junie was about four when, as she was helping him change his clothes, he must have noticed the glint of tears in her eyes. She thought she had wiped them off before she turned to face the child.

With empathy, he said, “Are you sad, Mama?”

“Yes.”

“But why?”

“Your Papa does not love me.”

“Don’t be sad, Mama, I will ask him to love you when he comes back from the convent.”

Guimo was back in the house about a couple of hours later.

On his own, without prompting from anyone, Junie approached his stepfather with the question.

“Papa, is it true you don’t love Mama?”

“Of course I do. I mean, it is not true. I mean, it is true I love her. Why do you ask? Small man with a big question.”

“She is sad because she says you do not love her.”

“Tell her I love her.”

For a while, Junie did not say anything.

“It’s okay. I will tell her myself, Junie.”

After a brief lull in the conversation, Teresa opened herself up again. Although baptized in Biringan, Teresa said she developed her affinity with the Catholic faith in more than five years of hearing masses at the Quiapo Church. It was true the Black Nazarene had miraculous powers, she said, but not necessarily from the Lord himself. It came from the outpouring of love and support she and Luzie got from his devotees. “We barely survived, but until now, by God’s grace, we”—gently putting a hand on Boy Deo’s shoulders—“are still alive. Isn’t that a miracle?” 

On the next day, Boy Deo took a leave of absence from his work, which he could do any time it pleased him. He volunteered to show Teresa around the new Manila. “It has been close to twenty years,” Boy Deo talked as he drove, “you might want to see things that did not exist then.”

“Yes,” Teresa replied. “But I would prefer we go to Quiapo first before anywhere else. Just to thank Mama Mary and the Black Nazarene. Besides, I have been in Manila a couple of times to attend workshops organized by the Peace and Sustainable Progress Foundation.” Then, with girlish gusto, she blurted out, “I think I saw you in that One Nation workshop! I was just too shy to find out if my hunch was correct.”

“Where was that hunch coming from, if you don’t mind?”

“The way you folded your hands behind your back was familiar to me,” Teresa replied.

Boy Deo sort of remembered Father Revo, who remarked that he used those hands as a pillow when he slept.

Caught in the morning rush hour, vehicles from Iztapalapa to Quiapo barely moved, so they had plenty of time for more probing. Teresa tried to mimic the senators. “Your Honor, how did you know about Waday? You may have heard me telling Katalina about Waday, but you were too young to comprehend anything, I guess. By the way, that should be our next stop after Quiapo.”

“At the One Nation workshop, I had a hunch that one of the participants was my mother! But I did not see her on the last day. I checked with the workshop secretariat the attendance sheets for the previous sessions, and I saw your name. Your provincial address took away any doubt I had that you might be somebody else. I was not sure about your Metro Manila address, though.

“So I looked it up and I met your relatives in Cerrito. They told me you had already left for La Profesa before dawn that day. We chatted a little, and they mentioned that you visited Waday the day before you left for La Profesa. I think that explained why you were absent on the last day of the workshop. 

“I went to the Correctional after that. I learned the complete details from Waday herself.” With a waggish smile, Boy Deo said, “End of story.”

In Quiapo, they arrived at the Minor Basilica just as the seven thirty a.m. mass ended. As soon as they got inside the church, Teresa quickly noticed that it had gone through a physical makeover in the years that she was away. The ceiling had been raised, and the posts along the aisles had been removed, providing a more expansive interior look.

They searched for their old spot at the back and found that the carriage, now bulkier, was still there. There was not much of a crowd today; many pews were vacant, but they sat at the metal base brace of the carriage. There was no particular reason for that. Most likely they just subconsciously wished to relive the old days. Less than two meters to Boy Deo’s left was the storeroom where the five-year-old Boy Deo, then called Franco, was dumped by the OXD operatives. This was the same room where Boy Deo collected trashed Sampaguita flowers which he then recycled and sold as fresh. Both were keenly aware of Sylvia Monir’s and Judge Vida De Gracia’s testimonies, and finding both of them was next, after Waday, in their agenda.

They moved to the Adoration Chapel, a few steps to their right. Inside, they knelt down.

“My Lord and My God,” Teresa whispered. She was paying homage to the Holy Eucharist with the words of the doubting Thomas, who had to acknowledge Jesus when the latter appeared to the apostles a few days after his death at Mt. Calvary, showing him the wounds in his body. 

Teresa said, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

Boy Deo said, “Amen.”

They recited the rosary.

They prayed in silence after that, then, about twenty minutes later, they went outside, into Plaza Roma and, mingling with a sparse crowd, a pair of begging toddlers appeared in front of them. On the way out, Boy Deo had suggested to Teresa that they dine at Jollifoods first before proceeding to Waday at the Correctional. Would Boy Deo do what Father Revo did to him and four of his friends, who included Junie, about twenty years ago? Boy Deo scratched the head of the one who appeared to be the older of the two.

Boy Deo asked, “Where is your mother?”

Both toddlers replied, “She is in our home.”

Boy Deo asked, “Where is your home?”

The younger child, about four years old, said, “At the pier near Guadalupe. On a sidewalk.”

The older child, about six years old, said, “Sometimes our home is in Magallanes Drive.”

Boy Deo pressed, “Where is your father?”

The younger child replied, “In the police office.”

The older child clarified, “He is in prison.”

Boy Deo asked, “Why, what did he do?”

For a moment the kids said nothing. Boy Deo scratched the head of the younger child, who confessed, “He stole scraps from an old building in Guadalupe.” He threw a glance at the older child, as if to check if what he said was correct.

The older child got the clue. He said, “The old building was in Fort Santiago, not Guadalupe.”

Boy Deo smiled, almost chuckling. “Fort Santiago is still in Guadalupe.” Then, turning serious, he addressed the older child. “What is your mother doing in your home?”

The older child replied, “She is taking care of our youngest brother.”

Boy Deo said, “So the two of you are brothers?”

The younger child replied, “Yes. We are three brothers, including the youngest one.”

Boy Deo surmised that the two kids he was talking to were the breadwinners for the family. He tapped the shoulder of the older brother, and whispered in his ear, “OK, good luck. Work hard and take good care of your mother and brothers.”

If the kids were disappointed that Boy Deo gave them nothing, it did not show in their faces. On the contrary, they looked pleased. It must have been the first time a stranger had talked to them the way Boy Deo did, and they appreciated it.

Boy Deo went straight to Jollifoods, thinking Teresa had carried on ahead of him. At Jollifoods, he looked for Teresa but couldn’t find her there. She had slipped away to buy something for the toddlers while Boy Deo was interviewing them. Boy Deo did not see her giving grocery items and some cash to the kids. Then she walked up to find Boy Deo waiting for her at Jollifoods.

In between sips of hot coffee and bites of hamburger, they mulled the idea of seeing the Rector first before proceeding to the Correctional. The visit was nothing short of serendipity. After hearing Waday’s story in more detail, the Rector suggested to bring the matter with the Bishops’ Conference so that the Catholic Church, as one voice, may issue a statement urging the government to immediately release Waday from detention.

Public statements issued by the bishops perhaps equaled to orders by the courts of law in terms of influencing government action.

At the Correctional, Waday told them that Justice Department lawyers had visited her twice already. They had interviewed her and shown her a draft of a sworn statement for her review and signature. Waday asked the lawyers if she could request Teresa to see the document first before she could sign it. The lawyers gave her their business cards. “Call us,” they said, “whenever you are ready to sign.”

Boy Deo and Teresa read and reread the draft document. Both of them thought the affidavit was fine. Boy Deo remarked that Waday had suffered too long, that she should sign it without further delay, although he also suggested that it might be prudent for him and Teresa to seek Judge Vida De Gracia first.

However, Boy Deo also remembered that Teresa had mentioned in a previous conversation he had with her that pending work-related tasks back in Biringan needed her immediate attention. He did not wish to make it hard for her to leave Waday’s case to his care, so he assured her that he would be on top of it.

Feeling accomplished, Teresa went back to Biringan. With Boy Deo around, she had no need to see Father Andoy, Sylvia Monir, or Judge De Gracia in person. She thanked him for helping her family overcome its most trying hurdles. She told him Waday’s conviction for murder could have kept her in jail for several years more, even a decade, if it was not for him.

Boy Deo in turn said he was what he had become because of her. He further said that Junie would likely vie for mayorship of Manila in the 2013 elections, something that was happening in just a few months. He hoped she could come over to help in the campaign. Teresa assured him she would make herself available when the need for it came up.

Boy Deo visited Judge Vida—after a spirited search for her address—at her New Manila home. In her lighthearted mood, she told Boy Deo she was too old for litigation, but could recommend her nephew to help him as private prosecutor. She went over the draft affidavit and found it to be substantially complete.

“Perfectly done,” she commented. Aside from the affidavit, it was important for him to try and track former employees of La Casta as possible witnesses. “Anyone who actually saw what happened would be helpful,” she advised him.

Digressing, she asked, “Is she one of your aunts?”

“Yes, sort of,” he replied.

“What does that mean?” Vida persisted, with eyes aglow.

“Her sister, Teresa, found me as a lost child, about five years old, and she took me under her care. Sort of adopted me as her son.”

“When did this happen? I mean, when did Teresa find you as a lost child?” she probed.

“On the day fellow witnesses—the mayor, vice mayor, Gidaben, among others—at the senate inquiry said there was mayhem at the Aguinaldo Underpass.”

“I hope you don’t mind.” Vida sounded like she was inviting him to a day-long conference. “I wish to share with you some of my personal thoughts related to that Aguinaldo Underpass incident. I lost my own adopted son, about five years old, to kidnappers on the day preceding that tragic incident where Junie’s dad was killed. My friends in the military and police organizations could not locate my son—I had complete documents regarding the adoption which I keep to this day—nor determine with certainty if the kidnapping and the Aguinaldo Underpass incident were in any way related. His name was—is—Francisco De Gracia.

“When I saw you attending the senate hearing, first beside the vice mayor and then as a witness, the way you moved your head reminded me of my lost son. And, of course, the nuances of facial features may have changed, given that it has been what—thirty years?—but the basic features have not.

“Again, I hope you don’t mind… and I wish you don’t get offended… I assure you I do not mean to be preposterous, but having heard you say Teresa found you as a lost child, I had to ask myself if the child she found was the one I lost in April of 1990?”

“How diplomatic of you, Judge Vida,” Boy Deo heard himself say, “when you probably mean to ask what I think of your thoughts when you say, ‘I had to ask myself.’”     

Vida had no ready reply. She just smiled. But after a while she said, “By the way, your own testimony at the senate was a blockbuster, to say the least. Few people can mix drama with facts, and you certainly had it. That is one thing that baffles me—your wit and gift of gab is easily noticeable, which is quite unlike whatever talent the child I lost may have had. At five, the child I am referring to could hardly talk; he communicated mostly with facial expressions.”

Her eyes suggested she would be happy to share with him more stories about the child’s early years, but he was edgy in his seat. She continued, “I wished to visit you in your office not only to congratulate you but to share with you these thoughts that lingered in my head. I hesitated, though, for fear that I may end up offending you.”

“Everything you said is much appreciated,” Boy Deo said. “I myself am interested in trying to find out who I really am. It’s just that this one”—tapping Waday’s papers—“is more urgent, I suppose. Hope you understand. We will see each other soon, shall we?”

Vida, in her frail condition, tried to stand up from her seat. “Can I hug you?”

Boy Deo helped her get up. He hugged her as she did the same. “See you. Thanks for everything.”

“One more thing about Waday. Even if she was the one who murdered the child, she already served more time than the penalty imposed by law.”

Judge Vida re-assuring words notwithstanding, Boy Deo still felt determined to uncover the truth of the whole story. He was able to locate La Casta’s former floor manager. Mr. Dayamante’s wife bribed her and threatened her family with physical harm unless she testified against Waday in court. With Junie’s help, the floor manager recanted the initial testimony and signed a fresh affidavit. The floor manager also helped Boy Deo locate two more former La Casta employees and a balut vendor who witnessed the crime, who also signed affidavits in support of Waday’s case.

The court reopened Waday’s case and, at an unprecedented pace, reversed six months later its earlier decision that convicted her. The Dayamante couple were arrested and tried for murder and perjury (lying under oath).

But even before Dayamante’s court indictment, Makatigbas and his allies at the senate had already disowned him. The Ethics Committee, which had been notoriously slow in passing judgment on members of the senate, expelled him when news broke out that witnesses had recanted their statements on the basis of which the court convicted Waday.

Before long, the election season was on. Those who filed candidacies for president included—surprisingly and seemingly against all odds—Senator Makatigbas; Mark Benaobra, son of the former president; and Bonggoy Watkasing. 

There was speculation among political analysts that Lee Tan dropped Makatigbas and Sir Dikomo at the last hour in favor of Benaobra, largely due to ripples of uncertainty created by the senate investigation. Makatigbas, however, continued to enjoy OXD’s endorsement as Manchurian candidate. And then, strange as it was, the endorsement for vice president did not go to Mascardo. It went to Cujaco.      

Rumors also had it that Lee Tan got fed up with both Sir Dikomo and Makatigbas when the kingmaker got wind of Madam Awie’s bragging among her mahjong friends that she offered the information that led to the kidnapping of Lee Tan’s daughter in 1984. Madam Awie got mad at Lee Tan for sending her husband, Leopoldo “Mr. T” Ty, to local and international business meetings that she suspected was her husband’s cover for meeting his future mistresses. In Madam Awie’s story, one supposedly inconsequential discovery led to another. While washing Joey’s clothes, he found a wayward piece of yellow paper in one of the pockets. A note was written on the paper that read “Leads – Kidnappers.” Under that heading were telephone numbers. She had accompanied Mr. Ty twice to Lee Tan’s Binondo home on an invitation by the latter. This gave her the opportunity to talk to Pearlie Tan and her mother, who learned from them where Pearlie went to school and on what days of the week. She did not know who the kidnappers were, and did not have any idea that she gave the information about Pearlie Tan to one named Gidaben, who then relayed her information to Madis-ogon. 

Apart from the discouraging body language that he was seeing from Lee Tan, incumbent Manila Mayor De Mozo, a.k.a. Sir Dikomo, who consistently led all pre-poll surveys among candidates for Manila mayor, also had more compelling reasons to give way to Boy Deo—Vida de Gracia personally asked him to back out. It was Vida who earlier confronted Sir Dikomo about the latter’s complicity in the attempted kidnapping of Franco by OXD operatives. Showbiz icon Ms. Vinnie Iglesia, who was supposed to run for vice president alongside De Mozo, carried on with her candidacy alone.

Dan Mascardo, son of a former president, ran with Makatigbas as vice president. Rising star Cujaco ran as Benaobra’s vice president, while Senate President De Yamat ran as Bonggoy’s vice president.

Junie ran for Manila mayor. His rivals included Robina Capablanca, wife of a former mayor; Rod “Tax” Escapador, a sitting Manila councilor and son of another former mayor Pilanding Escapador; the ageless Huwan T. Burcio, grandfather of a former assembly member; Ruy Lopez, Jr., former congressman Ruy Lopez, Sr.’s son, scion of the great Adonis Lopez de Romualdez clan, and uncle of a sitting councilor; and Madis-ogon, De Mozo’s protégé.

One early evening during the campaign, armed motorcycle riders fired upon Junie’s and Boy Deo’s service vehicles along a narrow street in Sta. Mesa, Manila. The mayoralty candidate, Boy Deo, and Nardong Sablay, who three years ago had moved from the Ty household in Cerrito to become one of Junie’s all-around errand boys, along with two of their security aides, were severely injured. Junie, Nardong Sablay, and one security aide died in the hospital; Boy Deo had to undergo surgery to remove a bullet in his spine and barely survived; and the other security aide also had to undergo multiple surgeries for various bullet wounds.

Nardong Sablay did something heroic for Junie. He tried to cover his boss from the gunfire but failed.

Speculation flew fast and wide as to who ordered the killings and the motivation behind them. Political pundits commented that Boy Deo, and not Junie, was the target of the ambush. They also claimed, although without sufficient basis, that Dayamante was the mastermind.

Ever since Boy Deo wrote the article “People and the Law,” the police and military took notice of him. He eventually landed on line fifty-nine of a mission order that listed seventy-five student activists. He almost got abducted in one of his sorties in Cerrito, while already an NGO worker, while walking on the sidewalk toward a jeepney stop. About eighty meters ahead of him, he saw a parked car with one side of the doors open, a sight that triggered a rush of flashbacks from Senhora das Neves in Sau Paulo when he was about five or six years old. He turned to take refuge in a nearby store and did not reappear until the car went away.

The second instance was when he was in Quiapo, where his would-be abductors hesitated, then left, leaving Boy Deo in peace; he didn’t even notice he was already a few feet away from disaster.

While Junie was serving as city councilor and Boy Deo was his assistant, it had become routinary for Boy Deo to drop by Quiapo Church before heading for home. He stayed inside the church very briefly—just to cross himself and genuflect before the Nazareno—as if to just say “Hi” to the Lord. Sometimes it took him longer to linger outside, talking to children who sold sampaguita flowers.

One afternoon, just before dusk, he found a boy asleep (or at least looking like he was asleep) on the same concrete bench (which used to be made of hard wood) where he slept when he was about seven or eight years old. Boy Deo groped his shoulder bag and found the sandwich that he forgot, due to another extremely busy day at the office, to eat for the afternoon break. Boy Deo gently tapped the shoulder of the boy, who responded by opening his eyes. When he offered him his sandwich, the boy got up. The boy cheerfully took the sandwich and, as he started to open it, Boy Deo asked him how his father and mother were doing. There was no answer.

“Where are they?” Boy Deo pressed.

The boy pointed in the direction where Boy Deo’s would-be abductors awaited in ambush. For a second the abductors blushed; they had the look of a startled predator, then, feigning disinterest, casually disappeared from the scene.

When Boy Deo trashed Dayamante in the senate hearing, the same abductors thought it was time to strike for a decisive result. They knew that all eyes would turn to Dayamante as the killer.

Boy Deo’s would-be assassins correctly anticipated that he would be on the front seat, beside the driver, like he had been on most other previous occasions. But the driver, when he heard the first burst of gunfire, probably by instinct or out of fright, pressed the accelerator hard while furiously trying to turn the seven-seater van to the left, away from what he thought was the source of gunfire.

As vice mayor, Junie was entitled to a police escort. But in this instance, heavy traffic at each intersection and malfunctioning traffic lights combined to give the assassins the opening they needed to get past to their victims.

SARAH GRIEVED WITH HER two-month-old son, which the Justicador couple had named John Patrick Justicador. Katalina wept too, and Teresa, who just flew in from La Profesa, tried to console her, but often unsuccessfully. Katalina did not sleep nor eat for a week. She remembered Porferio, Junie’s uncle, who told her about Junie being in the line of a family curse. She gathered John Patrick in her bosom; she feared for her grandson too. Oddly, the feel of him in her embrace was like a wellspring of hope. Minutes later, Sarah found her mother-in-law and John Patrick soundly asleep.

After an abbreviated judicial process, Hakbang Ng Mapayapang Himagsikan (Journey of a Peaceful Revolt), Junie’s political party succeeded in substituting Boy Deo for the murdered Junie. Shocking turns of events after another, and the drama that accompanied them, had left the usually boisterous political analysts at a loss for coherence on which to frame their analyses and commentaries.

There was just too much media stuff to cover: explosive revelations at the senate inquiry, ambush of a leading mayoralty candidate and, most recently, the rise of “The Eyes” to contend for the highest office of the country’s premier city.

It did not surprise many, but the celebration was unprecedented in the history of Manila and elsewhere when Boy Deo won the mayoralty race two months later.

At the national level, Mark Benaobra and Polong Cujaco won as president and vice president, respectively. But for reasons that remained a mystery to all, Benaobra died after barely two months in office. Cujaco, the elected vice president, ascended to the throne.