Roaming the campus at the University of Philippines (UP) in Diliman, Quezon City, is a real-life masked superhero. Everybody knows him as ‘Zorro’ – he can be seen wandering around UP at various times of the day, dressed a lot like his fictional namesake (cape, toy guns and mask included). Going by eye-witness accounts, ‘Zorro’ comes across as an incredibly sweet guy with impeccable manners.
No one knows the man behind the mask very well; some believe he’s just having some fun, while others think he’s schizophrenic. He’s harmless though, he just appears to be in living in a world of his own creation. A few students who have interacted with him say that he’s actually quite the gentleman. He greets students everyday and reminds them to take care of their belongings.
Regina, a student at UP who recently met ‘Zorro’, said: “The most random things can really make an already good day seem even better. While we were jogging, Zorro walked over to me as I walked past him and said, ‘You’re beautiful today.’”
Political science major Korina had a similar story to share: “I was at the lagoon with friends when he passed by. My friends weren’t minding him, but I said hi because I was feeling friendly. Then he came up to me and talked about something I can’t exactly remember. Then all of a sudden he took my hand, kissed it, and said, ‘You are my señorita today. Adios señorita!’ Then he walked off.”
Photo: Paolo V. Papa
According to an architecture professor, ‘Zorro’ once accompanied a girl who was walking between buildings at night, in complete silence. At times, Zorro is also known to have helped people cross busy streets and intersections. He’s performed several other good deeds, never expecting anything in return. Joggers and bikers say that he watches them in action and gives them appreciative high fives.
“I was jogging once around the Academic Oval, and I was already pretty tired,” said Christopher, a broadcast communication student. “It started to rain, so I was beginning to tell myself that I didn’t want to finish my workout for that day anymore. Then all of a sudden, I saw Zorro and he just looked at me and yelled, ‘Finish it! You can do it!’ I jogged an extra round that day.”
“The most common misconception held by people is that Zorro is mentally unstable. As it turns out, he is not,” wrote Sabina Felice, a blogger who has seen Zorro on more than one occasion. His true identity is revealed on some websites; his real name is Dennis Magtajas and he’s in his early 40s. His story is pretty tragic – his father died of liver cancer and his mother raised him all by herself. He is believed to have done very well in school until the age of six. After that, his mind just stopped growing.
“Researchers have pieced together that his IQ hasn’t developed much past the age of six,” wrote Sabina. Dennis now lives in Quezon City with his mother and three siblings. Zorro has always been his favourite character, and Dennis has been wearing the cape and mask ever since he was little. And regardless of his mental age, he seems to have developed his own brand of super power – the ability to be helpful and kind to people. Now, that’s something you don’t get to see everyday!