LIBINGAN NG MGA BAYANI
When I learned from my father’s contemporaries that my father saved truckloads of suspected guerrillas in San Pedro, Laguna who were scheduled for execution by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II, I thought that government should recognize such heroism. My father has that special skill of learning a language easily at a young age and he used that to such advantage by arguing with the Kempetai, assuring that those they arrested were not rebels but ordinary farmers and fisher folks in the area. The Japanese regiment released hundreds on the basis of my father’s explanation in Nippongo and from there on, on my father’s watch, the invading army never bothered the provincial folks in that part of Laguna anymore.
I thought that my father deserves to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, although he is interred at the exclusive Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina alongside my mother and only sister. But of course that is mere wishful thinking. History is not made of physical structures but more about social consciousness.
The Presidential Burial
It has been decided that former President Ferdinand E. Marcos who died of kidney, heart and lung ailments while in exile in Honolulu, Hawaii in September 28, 1989 at the age of 72 will finally be interred in the “Libingan ng mga Bayani.”
From the time of his death, Marcos was interred in a private mausoleum at Byodo-In Temple on the island of Oahu where his remains were visited daily by the Marcos family, political allies and friends.
As of 2015 his remains were interred inside a refrigerated crypt in Ilocos Norte, where his wife, Imelda, son, Ferdinand Jr., and eldest daughter, Imee have since become elected political leaders in their respective turfs.
Political animosity however made it difficult for the Marcos family to pursue the burial of their patriarch in the Libingan ng mga Bayani until the Du30 administration came into light.
it has been said that Marcos during his lifetime was so preoccupied with his role in history that he made every effort to portray himself always in a heroic manner. He rewrote Philippine History through the books he authored including an ideology which he applied in the course of what he termed as “constitutional authoritarianism” a cover for Martial Law indicating that the people need not worry except the oligarchs, criminal syndicates and the rebels.
While the country was under his dictatorial watch, he imposed discipline as a cultural highlight and built structures that would last and serve even after his term has ended. To his credit the Heart Center for Asia, Lung Center, Kidney Center of the Philippines, Cultural Center of the Philippines, National Highway, San Juanico Bridge were just a few of the lasting legacy he left behind serving the general population.
Until politics intervened. And he was pictured in a manner depicting villainy.
Libingan ng mga Bayani
Heroes’ Cemetery, also officially known as Libingan ng mga Bayani in Tagalog, is a Philippine national cemetery within Fort Bonifacio (formerly the American Fort William McKinley) in Western Bicutan, Taguig City, Metro Manila, Philippines.
It was established as a fitting resting place for Filipino military personnel from privates to generals, as well as Filipino heroes and martyrs. Among those buried in the cemetery are most of the defenders of May 1942 (during World War II), and those who fought in various battlefields of the Allied Liberation of the Philippines from 1942 to 1945. It also contains the national Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It is established as the Filipino counterpart to the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, which houses the remains of United States personnel who died during the same war.
It was first established on May 1947 as the Republic Memorial Cemetery. It was then renamed to its current name on 27 October 1954 by President Ramon Magsaysay.
Philippine presidents Elpidio Quirino, Carlos P. Garcia and Diosdado Macapagal; vice presidents Arturo Tolentino and Salvador H. Laurel; national heroes of the Philippines; generals Artemio Ricarte and Carlos P. Romulo; Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Angelo Reyes; and senator Blas Ople are also buried in the cemetery.
On the cemetery’s entrance it is written: “I do not know the dignity of his birth, but I do know the glory of his death.”
According to Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Regulation The Allocation of Cemetery Plots at the LNMB issued on 9 April 1986 by former AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Fidel V. Ramos and President Corazon C. Aquino, along with members of the military, the following persons are entitled to be interred at Heroes’ Cemetery:
*Medal of Valor awardees
*Presidents or Commanders-in-Chief, AFP
*The secretaries of National Defense
*AFP Chiefs of Staff, General/Flag Officers, active and retired military personnel, and former AFP members who laterally entered/joined the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG)
*Veterans of the Philippine Revolution of 1896, the First and Second World Wars, as well as recognized guerrillas
*Government dignitaries, statesmen, national artists and other deceased persons whose interment has been approved by the commander-in-chief, Congress or the Secretary of National Defense, and
*Former Presidents, Secretaries of National Defense, widows of former Presidents, *Secretaries of National Defense and Chiefs of Staff
However, those who were dishonorably separated, reverted, or discharged from the service, and those who were convicted of an offense involving moral turpitude cannot be buried at the cemetery.
The former President FE Marcos was never convicted at all. There are still cases pending but nothing has spelled conviction yet. Well, except for the Guinness Book of Record (which featured him as a bad guy) which is not a legal instrument at all but more of a data spiel.
National Pantheon for Presidents of the Philippines
Republic Act 289 or An Act Providing for the Construction of a National Pantheon for Presidents of the Philippines, National Heroes, and Patriots of the Country created the Board on National Pantheon. The law was enacted on 16 June 1948. However, such a pantheon has yet to be erected.
A Religious View
A spiritual pundit once challenged a follower with a hypothetical question. What if, according to him, the Pope issues an encyclical requiring all Churches and Temples to set a special corner for Judas Iscariot to be venerated along with Saints, notwithstanding betrayal but on the basis that he was once an active Apostle? Will that be acceptable to the Catholic laity? Is it blasphemous or heretical? Coming as it were from the See, will it gain adherence among the faithful? I don’t know. Perhaps it may be reckoned although for two thousand years, this idea has never been explored. This may also be a syllogism which is applicable in venerating heroes too.
“True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost “ says an activist and I believe it too. My father, myself and my friends in the Correctional System have done it and even if we are not recognized, worst even misunderstood, we never wished for heroism. But one thing is sure. Our deeds will never be forgotten nor buried in any Libingan. It will always find its repose in the hearts of our friends and loved ones.