I was in my grade school when news came out in newspapers about the case of children with scars perpetrated allegedly by a gang of extortionists or young hoodlums. Authorities were puzzled, baffled and clueless during their initial investigation. Fear suddenly engulfed the whole metropolis. I was terrified going home alone from school with the thought of being ganged up, molested and being inflicted with bladed weapons.
Here’s that puzzling news from the front pages of the Manila Times---
PUPILS’ SCARS PUZZLE POLICE
August 27, 1965
Who are behind the mysterious marking of the faces of
As of yesterday, the scars had been found on the faces of pupils in about a dozen schools. More than 1,000 children are believed carrying the scars on their foreheads, chins or cheeks. Most of the schools are in Tondo, breeding ground for the city’s underground gangs. This fact alone has alarmed school and police authorities.
Among the schools with scar-faced children are the Tondo Parochial School, near the Tondo church; Gregorio del Pilar Elementary School, Felipe Calderon Elementary School, Balagtas Elementary School, Rizal Elementary School (with 431 verified to have face cuts); A. Bonifacio Elementary School, Tomas Remigio Elementary School (169 children); Arellano High School and MLQ High School in Tondo.
- Extortion – The marks are inflicted on children who have paid their “dues” to a gang of mulcters.
- Dope addiction- Peddlers of drugs mark prospective addicts among the school population.
- Just a fad- The marks are symbols of children’s gangs.
- Communist subversion- These are marks of membership in juvenile Red cells.
Police yesterday arrested two teenage suspects but both refused to talk. Caught in a brief chase near the
According to most of the victims, they became dizzy after they had been slashed. This led police to suspect that the markings may be the work of dope pushers. One of the girls, Andrea de la Cruz, a fifth grader at Gregorio del Pilar Elementary School on J. Abad Santos ave., Tondo, said a teenage boy stabbed her with a sharp needle in the left leg while she was getting off a jeepney in front of her school at noon last Wednesday, Aug.25. A few hours after the incident, she said she nearly fainted.
Another fifth grader, Rolando Estrella, said two boys pounced on him last Tuesday while he was on his way home from the Remigio Elementary School on Perla st., Tondo. He said the boys held him, gave him candy, and cut him in the forehead. Shortly after, he said, he felt dizzy. Sixteen children at the Del Pilar School made the same complaint. Teachers there said four of the scar-faced children got infected.
Many of those interviewed said the cuts were inflicted with bladed instruments or broken glass. Others said their tormentors used only wet cotton--- probably soaked in acid, police said--- which they rubbed on their victim’s chins or foreheads. A few minutes after the skin dries up, the victims said, it starts itching, blisters appear, and scars are formed. Some of them told investigators that their tormentors blind-folded them. There were boys who admitted having inflicted the cuts on themselves. Some said this was due to a rumor that those who had scars would not be molested by a gang of young hoodlums. Others said these were marks of membership in a exclusive karate club. Still another reason given was that it was only a fad in school.
Orlando Paloma, 13, first year student at the
IT’S A FAD, SAYS COP
August 29, 1965
The scars on children’s faces are a fad caused by a Tagalog movie. This was the conclusion yesterday of Capt. Felicisimo G. Lazaro, Precinct 1 commander, in a report to Mayor Antonio Villegas. Lazaro said that most of the wounds had been self inflicted and that salicylic acid had been used in some cases to produce the scars. (Salicylic acid is sometimes used as antiseptic). He told the mayor that the children were imitating a local version of a secret agent who is supposed to be a disguise artist. The movie that started the fad was “7 Mukha ni Dr. Ivan,” which starred Eddie Fernandez. Lazaro said the isolated cases of extortion and other incidents were caused by young hoodlums taking advantage of the situation.
- Mayor Villegas directed the
Manilahealth department to examine the wounds in the children’s chin to determine the effects of the scarring. He also told the MHD to ask the help of the Mental Health Association.
- Three MPD precincts were ordered to go on a two-shift instead of a three-shift schedule until the case is completely resolved. Policemen were assigned in public and private schools to pick up auspicious characters in the area. The detective bureau also fielded 180 men on the scar-face case.
- Mayor Villegas asked the board of review for moving pictures to take another look at the Tagalog film. He said he would review the movie today or tomorrow. In his report to Villegas, Capt. Lazaro said interviews of the victims showed that the “injuries sustained are self-inflicted as most of them wanted to imitate the character of Dr. Ivan as portrayed in the film.” Some claimed that by wounding their chin, it would change their appearance to make them look like Kirk Douglas, Lazaro said. The precinct commander compared the craze “to the Beatles and Beatnik fad.