Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Beatles in Manila, Philippines

 "They've let me down" -Madame Marcos
On July 3, 1966 The Beatles made their way from Japan to the Philippines stopping once for 70 minutes in Hong Kong to fuel the plane. 5,000 fans waited at the Manila International Airport for The Beatles first (and last) Philippines visit.
During 1966 the country of Philippines were under dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. When the band landed they were met by what the group called "Gorillas", these  men in short T-shirts who took just The Beatles, leaving Mal Evans, Brian Epstein, Tony Barrow, and other Beatles affiliates  behind.
"As soon as we got there it was bad news. There were tough gorillas- little men-who had short- sleeved shirts and acted very menacingly.
The normal proceedings in those days were that, because the mania was everywhere, we didn't pull up at an airport and get off  like normal people. The plane would land and it would go to the far end of the airfield where we would get off, usually with Neil and our 'Diplomatic bags' ( we carried our shaving gear- and whatever- in little bags), get in a car, bypass passport control and go to the gig. Mal Evans with Brian Epstein and the rest would go and do our passport and all that scene.
But when we got to Manila, a fellow was screaming at us, ' Leave those bags there! Get in the car!' we were being bullied for the first time. It wasn't respectful, everywhere else- America, Sweden, Germany, wherever- even though there was a mania, there was always a lot of respect because we were famous showbiz personalities; but in Manila it was a very negative vibe from the moment we got off the plane, so were were a bit frightened. " -George Harrison
 These Gorillas took the group in a Cavalcade escorted by six police motorcyclist to the navy headquarters where a press conference  was held. After the interview the men in then took the band to a private yacht owned by Dan Manolo Elizalde, a friend of the concert promoter Ramon Ramos Jr. They were told that they would stay on this yacht till the following day.
"They drove me to the pier and I got out of the car and said, 'Where are they?' they pointed: 'There they are,' and there was a big boat miles away, in the middle of the harbour. They were what seemed to be rival militia gangs. One gang had taken them and put them on this boat to meet some people who weren't the people putting on the show. It was very strange. I never really understood why they got put on a boat."- Neil Aspinall
The Beatles played Manila at Rizal Memorial Football Stadium. When The Beatles landed in the Philippines a paper by Manila Sunday Times was printed stating;
"President Marcos, the First Lady, and the three young Beatles fans in the family, have been invited as guests of honour at the concerts. The Beatles plan to personally follow up the invitation during a courtesy call on Mrs Imelda Marcos at Malacañang Palace tomorrow morning at 11 o'clock."
Nobody knew that they were meeting the President on this trip and were shocked when they read this news.
"I think they'd been  invited and Brian had telexed them or sent a telegram saying 'no'- The Beatles didn't do that sort of stuff for anybody. They wouldn't get involved in politics and they wouldn't go to the palace. But it was ignored as if he hadn't said it" -Neil Aspinall.
The next morning  the band woke up to banging on the hotel door and people shouting "Come on! You're supposed to be at the palace!" and saying "Turn on the television!". The group did so and all over the news was broadcasting reporters all saying the same thing, "And they're still not here yet. The Beatles are supposed to be here." and "Five minutes till The Beatles show up".
"We sat there in amazement. We couldn't believe it, and we just had to watch ourselves not arriving at the presidential palace"- George Harrison.
Mal and Paul spent the morning roaming the streets, Wall Street, taking pictures and when they returned to the  hotel the security guard asking them "How'd you get out?"
"But there was the TV announcer- their equivalent of Richard Dimbleyby- saying, 'and the first lady is waiting with the Blue Ladies...' (it was like America- they had Pink Ladies and Blue Ladies and First Ladies and they were all waiting there) '...And pretty soon the famous pop group will be arriving." and were going, "Shoot! nobody's told them!' and the promoters saying, 'Well, you've got to go now, it's only a limo to get there.' And we said, 'We can't.' We stuck to our guns and sat the rest of the day out in the hotel. We turned the telly off and got on with our day off" -Paul McCartney
The next morning someone had picked up a newspaper with the headlines reading as Paul recalls saying "Beatles Snub President", George recalls it as "Beatles Snub First Family".  The Beatles were due to leave Manila that morning back to London. They all recall it an awful experience,saying everyone was very rude to them throughout the whole experience but even worse after they didn't show up to the palace.
"It was 'Beatles Snub First Family'- that's how they decided to present it. Nobody ever said, 'Well, they were never asked,'It was quite likely it was the promoter or the agent who had done a deal; brown-nosing Mrs. Marcos, probably. She was later quotes as saying, 'Oh, I never like them anyway- their music is horrible."- George Harrison
The group arrived at the airport with Neil, Brian, Tony Barrow, and Alf Bichknell. Nobody helped  them so the load of them were carrying their luggage, amps, instruments, and more up escalators. The escalators happens to have stopped moving on their arrival. There was no checking the bags or anything, just carry them all on with you. At this time the gorillas showed up again, in their white little shirts and started pushing them around again shouting " Get over there!" and all that. These guys were throwing punches, hitting Alf.
"There was chanting, with people hating us all the way- and now at the airport they started spitting at us , spitting on us, and there's the famous story of John s and me hiding behind these nuns, because we thought, 'It's a Catholic country - they won't beat up the nuns."- Ringo Starr
The group finally were seated on the plane,
"When we got on the plane we were all kissing the seats" -Paul McCartney
Just when they were settled in their seats a voice boomed over the plane saying "Will Mr.Epstein and Mr. Evans and Mr. Barrows get off the plane." The three men got off, walking down the isle in tears Mal Evans turned to George and said
"Tell Lil I love her" Lil being his wife.
The three came back after having given these men The Beatles profits from their concert the previous night.
"It was an unfortunate little trip, but the nice thing about it was that in the end (when we found out what Marcos and Imelda had been doing to the people, and the rip-off that they whole thing allegedly was) we were glad to have done what we did. Great! We must have been the only people who'd ever dared to snub Marcos" -Paul McCartney
The Famous Story of John and Ringo Hiding Behind Nuns
"Along the route to the airport there were people waving at us, but I could see a few old men booing us. When they started on us at the airport, I was petrified. I thought I was going to get hit, so I headed for three nuns and two monks, thinking that might stop them. As far as I know I was just pushed around, but I could have kicked and not known it.
'You treat like ordinary passenger! Ordinary passenger!' They were saying. We were saying: 'Ordinary Passenger? He doesn't get kicked, does he?' I saw five in sort of outfits who were doing it, all the kicking and booing and shouting. I was petrified, and pushed a lot.  I was very delicate and moved every time they touched me." -John Lennon
On The Beatles 1966 Beatles Tour Information you can see John's handwriting written all over the page. On June 26 he circled, "Hamburg" and wrote "Torture". On July 4 he circled "Manila" and wrote "Nearly fucking killed by the government.." he then drew a line to the bottom of the page and continued, "... and it's just another Beatles day his book." On the very bottom he wrote "after Manila George said in London World, Press. 'They should drop an H bomb on Manila' we all silently agreed."

"I hated the Philippines. We arrived there with thousands upon thousands of kids, with hundred upon hundreds of policemen - and it was a little dodgy. Everyone had guns and it was really like that hot/Catholic/gun/Spanish Inquisition attitude." -Ringo Starr






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