Burying Ferdinand Marcos

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EVER since former President Fidel V. Ramos permitted the Marcos family to repatriate the body of Ferdinand Marcos in 1993, the nation has grappled with the highly political and emotive question of whether the Dictator is entitled to be buried in the country’s first and only national cemetery, the Libingan ng mga Bayani, the Heroes’ Cemetery. Many think that burying Marcos in what is widely regarded as hallowed ground is obnoxious and immoral. The family is determined to ensure it happens. President-elect Rodrigo Duterte, who has never hidden his close-ties with the Marcoses, nor his admiration for the late strongman, promised to grant the family their wish. There is every indication that he will keep his word. For Mr. Duterte the matter seems cut and dried. Marcos, he says, is entitled to his plot because as a former soldier he fulfills the necessary criteria. He is right. It is the rehabilitation of a reviled dictator that is wrong.

A cemetery for heroes strikes me as a peculiarly American concept. The Republic Memorial Cemetery, as the military reserve in west Bicutan was first called, was established in 1947 and given its present name in 1954 by President Ramon Magsaysay. This was a period when American influence on Filipino leaders was still remarkably strong. Since the Civil War, Americans have gone to great lengths to honor soldiers who died on the battlefield. After the Spanish-American War of 1898 and the Philippine-American War of 1899 – 1902, the disinterment and repatriation of American soldiers who died in battle on foreign soil was enshrined in US legislation. It was a landmark ruling and a turning point in how Americans treat their fallen warriors. Today, civilian morticians working under the Quartermaster Burial Corps travel abroad to recover bodies of deceased military personnel for shipment home if the next of kin so wish. Otherwise, the remains can be interred in one of the many permanent American military cemeteries overseas. The United States is the only nation in the world to offer this privilege.

In London, there are cemeteries exclusively for Huguenots, Catholics, Jews and religious dissenters. But by and large, the people buried in London cemeteries come from all walks of life—whatever class and creed, career or calling. The high-born rest alongside with the hoi polloi, the soldier with the baker and the candlestick maker. The graves of over 170,000 British servicemen and –women, who died in action in the first and second world wars, are scattered in almost 13,000 different locations throughout the UK.

Kensal Green cemetery in West London, for instance, is one of the city’s oldest and most distinguished cemeteries. Walk past an assortment of Gothic tombs for English aristocracy, the famed English poet, Lord Byron, Marc and Isambard Kingdom Brunel, father and son, two of the most brilliant engineers the world has ever known, and one comes to a simple memorial for hundreds who died in combat in the two world wars. One poignant inscription, for a young corporal killed at the age of 23 in 1915, reads: “[H]e died for honour and freedom.” But among the great and the good, there are also rogues, miscreants, migrants and ordinary folk who led quiet, decent lives. The whole spectrum of society is there. That is, I think, how it should be.


If we followed the disparate and jumbled example of Kensal Green cemetery, it would not matter a jot where Marcos is buried. But we have come to regard the Libingan ng mga Bayani as an exceptional cemetery. Over 45,000 soldiers are buried there. Joining them are a few Presidents, statesmen, and national artists. Many of these men and women died heroically in the service of their country. But this does not mean they led perfect lives. Many were just ordinary. Perhaps even ignoble. Like the rest of us, their pasts were checkered, their behavior sometimes virtuous, sometimes not. Yet all qualified, in one way or another, to be buried in this place. Ergo, we consider them all as heroes.

“The placing of the dead,” writes the British anthropologist Nigel Barley, “is never arbitrary. It is a clear act of classification and a statement of where they belong.” The Marcoses are intent on exploiting this maxim to the hilt. They could have simply buried him in Batac, Ilocos Norte. Instead, they waited for this moment, and for a more accommodating President, for two and a half decades. With their limitless resources and huge influence, the family will ensure their patriarch is accorded the honor, pomp, and ceremony they believe he deserves.

Let us imagine for a moment what this might mean: showy ostentation, fanfare, and gridlock. A grandiose funeral procession to rival those of Ninoy and Cory Aquino. The family, close and extended, will be joined by throngs of Marcos loyalists, politicians, military men, Catholic hierarchs, and celebrities. Local and international press and media will have a field day. Fueling the frenzy will be marching bands, paid mourners, girls strewing rose petals and singing Hosanna, or maybe corny renditions of Dahil Sa Iyo. The coffin itself will be draped with the Philippine flag. The procession will culminate in a 21-gun salute. Eulogies will drone on interminably. Given the Marcoses’ penchant for extravagance, the body will be interred in a palatial marble monument.

Such a flamboyant tribute will not be just for show, although it will effectively show off Marcos political muscle. It’s a calculated move intended to serve a distinct purpose. The Marcos dictatorship will appear exonerated and history will be whitewashed. The country has yet to recover the billions of dollars the family has stashed away. Thousands of human rights victims have yet to see justice. Burying Ferdinand Marcos in a place designated for heroes is one thing. Masking the brutal past is another.

rachelagreyes@gmail.com

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33 Comments

  1. Ferdinand Marcos deserved to be buried in libingan ng mga bayani with full military honors. He was a soldier and an officer who saw combat in ww2. Let’s close this chapter and move on with our lives for a better country under duterte.

  2. Obviously if you are pro Marcos -you are a Thief and Corrupt-like your Idol Thief Marcos

  3. Josefino Bajado Velasco on

    For all his sins and shortcomings, he also did great things that were often overshadowed by our hatred of the wrogsa person does as if we are all perfect human beings.

  4. Just to correct a part of your column:

    Lord Byron was not buried in Kensal Green or Kensal Cemetery in London. He was buried at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Hucknall, Nottinghamshire. Buried beside him is his daughter Ada Lovelace whom he never knew. She is known as the world’s first computer programmer and her picture or image can be found in some Microsoft products.

    As for the burial of the late President F. Marcos, the ceremony may not be as glorious as the Marcoses plan or seem to envision. I read that some victims who suffered and were jailed during his dictatorship intend to protest and disrupt the proceedings. JOMA even said that the tomb may be bombed just like what happened to one of his statues or “rebultos” that had been built as part of his cult of personality.

    The approval by incoming President-elect Duterte to allow FM’s burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani is divisive and unnecessary, since the repatriation deal between the Marcoses and the former President Fidel Ramos (cousin to Ferdinand) was that the body would be buried in Ilocos Norte. This deal or arrangement appears to have been forgotten. So now, the Marcoses are doing what they can to propagate the myth that the late President Marcos was actually a “bayani” who had been decorated and awarded for his bravery with medals, fake though they may be. Should the burial take place, it will be the task of his victims, investigative journalists and widespread social media to reveal and ensure that the true record of his so-called guerilla army (called “Maharlika”, which the American Military discounted and deemed to be “fictional”) will not be swept away in the dustbin of history. Thank goodness, there are still a multitude of people who know the “other side of the story”.

  5. Wow. Here’s another “Who is he/she?” writer who’s capitalizing on the anti-Marcos propaganda to stay relevant and be noticed.

    Oh well, that’s always been the “yellow way”. Demonize the Marcos to hide their own crooked ways and make them look clean and saintly in the eyes of their gullible supporters.

    #yellow_self-righteous

  6. Ignacio Balbutin on

    whatever you call it dictatorship or what, the shining truth that cannot be ignored is that Marcos has a lot of accomplishment during his time and don’t trumpet about the money stolen by Marcos for there was none, it has been confirmed already by the court that Marcos did not steal any money. You belong to the yellow bunch, the real question is what has Cory and his son accomplished. First of all we lost Sabah because the Aquino’s are beholden to the Malaysians.. That is treason in the first place

  7. Jacob Mapagsikap on

    If not for Marcos, the communists would have taken the government, and for sure have made purges of the middle class like what happened in Cambodia’s “Killing Fields”. All the professionals, intellengentsia, and businessmen of Cambodia were taken to the rice fields to be “re-educated”. Four million died because of that “re-education”. Pol Pot, the mastermind of the Cambodian Concentration Camps, died before he would face prosecution by the United Nations. Other perpetrators were put on trial. One was sentenced by the UN with life imprisonment. His name was Dutz. A movie was made to describe this horrific episode. if anybody is interested, you can google it. Also there is a museum for the Cambodian Holocausts. Such would have been the fate of the Philippines if not for Martial Law.

  8. After Marcos declared martial law, many criminals, narco-gangsters, hold-uppers to petty hoodlums, were forced to stop their illicit activities due to the curfew and the metro-com’s gestapho like crack-downs. So where did these lawless elements go? Many just fled to the mountains to become bandits, calling themselves freedom fighters and collecting revolutionary taxes. I do not doubt that there are true communists ideologist, but I am also sure that there are many in their ranks who were fugitives from the law.

  9. There are as they said the record will show 10,000 or more victims or say 70,000 or more victims from martial law atrocities but there are 70,000,000 (seventy million) or more citizens living in peace and in harmony among people within the community during those years. Truly, Marcos years is the golden age in Philippine history. The records will also show.

  10. ferdinand naboye on

    The ill gotten wealth issues was a word during the cory time in order to revenge what they were deprive but sory they use other people for their own interest

  11. Hindi naman lahat ng tunay na sundalo nag-PUMILIT mailibing sa LNMB. Bakit ang pamilya marcos nagpupumilit ilibing ang diktador sa LNMB?

    Bakit sila nagpupumilit?

  12. Ano ba naman, Ms. Rachel A.G. Reyes, sobra na yata ang galit mo kay dating Pres. Marcos. Bakit ano ba ang kasalanan niya sa inyong pamilya, sa mga Aquinos? Dahil ba sa pagdeklara niya ng Martial Law with the sole intent to neutralize the destabilization efforts of Ninoy Aquino with the help of the CIA and the left-leaning organizations with communist ideology. Sa tingin ko Ms. A.G. Reyes ay medyo matino ka pa rin at sana sa susunod na column mo ay tungkol naman sa mga magagandang bagay na naidulot noon ng Martial Law sa buhay ng bawat Pilipino. O kaya’y magtanung-tanong ka kung sino talaga si Kumander Dante, and who really masterminded the Plaza Miranda bombing para di halatang may bahid kulay-dilaw ang tema ng column mo.

  13. As a columnist and a writer at that,i think it is only proper that if you will cite any anomalous or as you have referred to it as ” stolen wealth “,you should have at least any information as to its veracity.You continue to accuse the Marcos’ of stealing billions of Philippine funds and wealth,but have’nt shown us,the readers of Manila Times anything that would verify your innuendos and accusations.To properly educate and enlighten you,for the thousands of cases the Philippine government and PCGG had filed in a span of 3 decades,there has’nt been a single case that has prospered nor convicted any of the Marcos’ which will prove their innocence of the crimes and the accusations you and your yellow brothers in arms had invented.On the other hand,while a lot had been said and been proven about the traitorous Aquino/Cojuanco clan,your being a journalist had done nothing for you to investigate any of those things,like for example the Jabidah Massacre plot that the Aquino’s are trying to tell the people have occurred.How about telling the public if the grandfather of Noynoy is really a Japanese collaborator and the leader of the dreaded Makapili during WW2.This will educate a lot of young Filipino students who are into Philippine history,or you just wanted to keep mum and silent when it comes to crimes of the Aquino’s clan in this country? Educate us,tell us something about the Aquino’s and not only the crimes you wanted to portray against the Marcos’…

  14. “Thousands of human rights victims have yet to see justice.”
    _________________________

    The thousands who joined JoMa’s underground communist movement because they were mesmerized into believing that communism was the right ideology to transform Philippine society? I think most Filipinos now are relieved that they failed and thankful that Marcos fought them till their defeat. Of course, it was a brutal war, war in no picnic, what do you expect? We could at least grant them honor for fighting for a cause they believed in— but they lost. They are the vanquished. Victims? You do not fight the government with guns and when end up hurt, you call yourself a victim?

    • You think that “human rights victims” imply JOMA’s underground communists? What kind of thinking is this? So naive and simplistic. Where have you been living?

  15. Listen Rachel, go fly a kite you you are definitely a yellow turd. Like your friend Panot full of hate and vindictiveness. Marcos was a statesman a soldier and a gentleman, he deserved to be buried either honors.

    • Indeed, the writer is definitely suffering from jaundice. She is yellow all over!

  16. Amnata Pundit on

    Marcos haters paint Him as the biggest scoundrel that walked the earth while playing deaf and dumb to the fact that a huge number of people think its the yellows who are the real scoundrels, so huge that the yellows had to import Smartmatic to cheat these contra-yellows out of their votes. You guys cannot produce a single shred of evidence that Marcos stole anything. The closest thing you got to a conviction was the summary judgement in that forfeiture case which was summary because your Supreme Court refused to accept his reply! If your hate-filled brains are working 100% you can figure out why, but if as I suspect they are not then I will tell you: because they knew, based on the New York trial which resulted in a not guilty verdict ( did you conveniently forget that?), that Marcos had a perfectly satisfactory explanation for everything. As for the human rights bs, when the forces engaged in sedition, subversion and outright rebellion- which you guys called exercises in democratic rights- bombed Plaza Miranda (did you conveniently forget that bombing too?) and accused Marcos of masterminding it, they succeeded in pushing Marcos into a corner. When he fought back, they started acting like they were the victims. The aggressors became the victims! Marcos was the real hero, while the real Plaza Miranda mastermind who is the hero you are now worshipping was actually the son of Satan. Wake up and stop deceiving yourself.

    • George F Guillermo on

      The Anti Marcos group used DECEPTION or LIEas strategy to create an Anti Marcos mindset among the people as a scheme for them to stay in power forever. But as per GOD’s standard, these “yellow groups” are nothing but “Self Rigtheous”, as they think themselves to have more moral ascendancy than the rest of the people. They judge the Marcoses and their friends/followers as evil for them to appear as good or righteous. They are taking the role of the Almighty GOD, as JUDGE of HIS Creation/people. They are acting like Satan that used DECEPTION as strategy to spread LIE as Truth. Fortunately, after more than 30 years, by GOD’s grace -the deceptive, self righteous yellow groups failed in their deceptive/vindictive tactics so as to continue stay in power, but sadly, their vindictive and self righteous character have now become a part of the culture of some of our Citizenry. GOD BLESS our country!!!

    • You say: “You guys cannot produce a single shred of evidence that Marcos stole anything”. My goodness, you must be living in the ozone layer to truly believe this nonsense. Better read and do some research to enlighten and educate yourself. “Google is your friend”!

    • FYI-it was GMA and her Comelec who imported Smartmatic. People will lie to their teeth to Promote their evil intentions-Distorting History an the Truth

  17. Miss REYES, please find time to closely look into the accomplishments of the late President Marcos and compare them to what succeeding Presidents had achieved. Try to further check on the past exploits of the late Sen Ninoy Aquino in his quest to discredit President Marcos. You may surely be enlightened as to the accomplishments of the Marcos Administration as compared to the two Aquino Administrations combined.

    The Die is Cast! President Duterte has expressed his view on the matter. The more than 16 M voters who elected him to office stands by his decision.

  18. Leodegardo Pruna on

    The writer forgot to mention that the mother of P-Noy either instructed or allowed the desecration of the Libingan ng mga Bayani by interring a presidential security command dog in the place. And, the Filipino people and her cohorts never minded the issue because of her popularity then. Why the issue of FM, mainly because of vengeance and hatred, which mother and son held deep in their hearts. And, that is what the President-elect would like to correct. God save the Philippines. .

  19. I love Manila Times but I hope you will get writers/journalist who possess the ability to be objective, fair, constructive and broad mind. More power.

    • The writer is an opinion columnist, not a news reporter. There is a difference between the two.

  20. No matter how you hate and despise the Marcoses, there are still millions and millions of Pinoys who truly love them.Truth is, Bongbong was the rightful winner and not the Lugaw Queen with the Abnoy as mastermind in aid of the COMOLEC and cheating machines.What is your aim and purpose, to deodorize the exiting palpable idiotic Abnoy? at the expense of the Marcoses ?…..shame on you….troll of the Kultong Dilaw.DIGONG and the MARCOSES are friends. You are a friend of the oligarchs led by the PANOT.

  21. Check the guidelines, Regulations concerning the Burial at the Cemetery? Is President Ferdinand Marcos qualified or not? The answer will be yes by any standard. It is just the regulation of the Aquinos that prevent the Government from doing so. Now, that they are history, , the government should do the right thing. Bury the President at the Cemetery,

  22. Indeed, siting a burial ground for a wax is one thing but re-investing into the country the wealth preserved for the future generations of Filipinos is another. There can never be a “nakaw na yaman” when the assets run into trillions becoz the country can not have trillions in its books at that time. Presently, the work at hand is to “legalize” or bring the asset into the system without creating inflationary tendencies bcoz of its size. Hence, when you hear of a gift, donation, grant or a sizable investment coming in the form of hardware, technologies or systems after beneegno is out, more probably it is an entry of the asset into the economy.

  23. Prinze Fisher on

    Spare me from your useless negative insights! The worst unwritten history in the Philippines is the existence of Aquino family. Why don’t you write about it. If not for them (the Aquino family), the Philippines would have been more better than the rest of its neighboring countries.

  24. I’m a martial law baby and sure know a peaceful life of law abiding citizens. Don’t be a blind follower and decide based on propaganda.