In 1966, the legendary rock band The Beatles visited the Philippines for a two-day stay during the Marcos regime. When they left, they vowed never to return again.
At the height of their career, the renowned Fab Four comprising John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr were in their 1964 world tour and the Philippines was chosen with Japan and India to take part in the tour’s Asian leg.
At the same time, late strongman Ferdinand Marcos was just sworn in as president in December 1966.
Many people were quick to remember this incident after his son, former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. shared “Life is what happens when you’re making plans,” as a supposed quote from Lennon on social media.
Don't let it all pass you by. pic.twitter.com/SSYHSHgGtN
— Bongbong Marcos (@bongbongmarcos) May 23, 2018
This drew mixed reactions on different platforms—the Facebook post mostly received positive feedback, while users on Twitter offered criticisms.
Nagmamalinis lang po yan… lam nyo na, gusto din nakawin vp post. Leche!
— Damn (@arbs_pritti) May 28, 2018
One Twitter user noted that the quote Marcos shared did not originally came from Lennon. It was included in the lyrics of his single “Beautiful Boy,” but from American cartoonist Allen Saunders.
An uneasy start
Based on one account, the military transferred Lennon, Harrison, Starr, and McCartney without the rest of their entourage to the Philippine Navy Headquarters for a press conference after arriving at the Manila Airport on July 3.
They were soon led to a private yacht on Manila Bay for a luxury party arranged by former media tycoon Manolo Elizalde.
At the early hours of July 4, they were reunited with their convoy and allowed to rest at Manila Hotel before their afternoon and evening shows.
Quick turn of events
Unknown to their manager Brian Epstein, then First Lady Imelda Marcos invited them for an official function via local promoter Ramon Ramos. The event was supposedly attended by top government officials and their children.
While reports vary if the invite was for lunch or breakfast at the Palace, it was certain that Epstein denied the official invite. The trouble started there.
Harrison and McCartney related in an interview that there were people banging on their hotel in the morning and calling for them to come outside.
“We put the TV on, and there was a horrific TV show of Madame Marcos screaming, ‘They’ve let me down!” Starr said.
Amid the morning uneasiness, their two shows later that day was a success with more than 100,000 Filipino attendees at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
The nightmare trip home
When they were leaving the next day, the government seemed to have removed protection and assistance to the band and their staff.
“Police protection of the group vanished. The band endured a frightening ride to the airport, where porters refused to help carry their equipment. Band members were jostled and road manager Mal Evans was beaten,” the author from Ultimate Classic Rock wrote.
Some accounts say that Epstein tried to do some damage control after the initial mishap, but failed when the media reported them as having snubbed the Marcoses.
“The whole place turned on us,” Harrison described in the UCR article.
When they returned home, all the members promised never to return to the Philippines again.
Other countries included in their world tour are Denmark, Germany, India, and the United States.
Hailing from Liverpool, England, the Beatles was one of the greatest rock bands of all time, which produced notable songs such as “Hey Jude,” “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown),” and “Yesterday,” which are still heard on Philippine radio today.