Rudy Santos was a 60-year-old popular freak show attraction during the ’70s and late ’80s. But after settling down two decades ago, this former celebrity gradually lost in oblivion. Will he ever live a normal life or forever embrace his shockingly rare condition?
A Twin ‘For Life.’
Rudy Santos was born with Craniopagus parasiticus (“parasitic twin”) – one of the world’s most rare medical phenomena. As the name suggests, this condition happens when conjoined twins are not fully separated in the womb. In the case of Rudy, his undeveloped twin came in the form of additional appendages and body parts.
Apart from two extra arms and a deformed right leg, Rudy Santos also has additional shoulders, nipples and undeveloped head attached at his sternum. This head is notable for having its own ears and a hairy scalp. Craniopagus parasiticus is so rare of a condition that Rudy Santos is now officially the oldest man in history to ever live with such deformity.
From “Human Octopus” to Instant Celebrity
Due to his bizarre case, Rudy captivated many curious onlookers during the ’70s and late ’80s. He was the main attraction at traveling fairs and was aptly named “Octoman” to attract more audiences. Rudy was a national celebrity back then—earning at least 20, 000 pesos every night. Not until his retirement during the late 80’s that his career as “Octoman” suddenly went downhill.
The moment he decided to settle down in Zamboanga with his wife and daughter, Rudy’s life has been rife with poverty. The family’s plight was featured in the GMA show “Wish Ko Lang” where Rudy and his wife became reunited after the latter went to Manila to work as a domestic helper. The show also gave the family a sari-sari store business and a college scholarship for their teenage daughter.
In 2008, he went under the examination of Vicente Gomez, Philippines’ leading authority in conjoined twin separation. Gomez eventually revealed that a surgical operation is still viable to get rid of the parasitic twin. Rudy, however, declined the offer as he has grown very attached to his twin to even consider removing it from him.
As of this writing, Mang Rudy still lives a quiet life with his family in Zamboanga, Philippines.