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Public Affairs

Former 'freakshow' attraction gets his wish for a better life

In his heyday, Rudy Santos would draw crowds of fascinated onlookers as “Octoman,” the headline attraction of travelling fairs.  Attached to his abdomen are an extra leg, arms, shoulders, what appears to be an ear, and a patch of hair.  His own right leg is deformed and he is unable to walk without crutches These grotesque deformities are symptoms of a rare condition called "parasitic twin," the result of conjoined twins not fully separating in the womb.  In other words, Mang Rudy has lived his entire life with the remains of his would-be twin attached to his body. After two decades of earning a living as a freakshow attraction, Mang Rudy settled down to live a quiet life with his wife Evelyn and teenage daughter Riza.  Wanting to live a normal life, the family put up a small sari-sari store in Zamboanga. Unfortunately, their dreams were dashed when their small stall slowly lost business.  Evelyn made the difficult decision of leaving her family behind in Zamboanga to work as a domestic helper in Manila.  Because Mang Rudy’s limited mobility made it difficult for him to work, the family scraped by on daughter Riza’s meager earnings as a bakery employee. The GMA program "Wish Ko Lang" learned about Mang Rudy’s plight from a letter he sent to the show.   The program flew Evelyn back to Zamboanga to reunite the family.  Upon seeing her mother, Riza embraced her tightly, crying,  “Mahirap ang walang mama. Parang ako ang naging mama.”  Mang Rudy was at a loss for words when his wife embraced him and said, "Ngayon maalagaan na kita, ang payat-payat mo na!” "Wish Ko Lang" treated the Santos family to a summer getaway in a popular resort in Dapitan.  They were then presented with a sari-sari store package to help revive their business, which would be newly named, “Ang Tindahan ni Octoman.”  The program also gave Riza a scholarship to any four-year-course at Ave Maria College, a gift that Mang Rudy said was the best of all. "‘Yan ang lagi naming dinadasal, na sana magampanan namin bilang magulang na mabigyan siya ng pagkakataong makapagtapos sa pag-aaral," said Mang Rudy. "Wish Ko Lang" airs Saturdays at 4:30 PM on GMA Network. Follow "Wish Ko Lang" on Facebook and Twitter. -Ces Vitan/PF, GMA News