The title should be copyrighted in my name. That was the title of my horror film which launched to stardom then fledgling movie upstart Jestoni Alarcon and which in the 1987 Metro Manila Film Festival won the Second Best Picture Award. Moviegoers must have caught on the flavor of the movie such that when the remains of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos were brought home from Honolulu, Hawaii in 1989 and the Marcos Family could not get them buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani – what with arch anti-Marcos High Priestess Cory Aquino holding on tenaciously to the presidency of the land – and decided to put the dead dictator in somewhat a state of suspended animation in his hometown Batac, Ilocos Norte, some folks among the throng that watched the Marcos remains procession down the highway thought of the mischief of chanting: “Huwag mong buhayin ang bangkay!”
Twenty seven years have elapsed since then. Marcos had remained preserved in a refrigerated glass crypt for all the world to see. People who have viewed the uncorrupted flesh of the leader who had tided the nation over through the most turbulent period of the nation after the Second World War can just imagine what exquisite forbearance, prudence and fortitude the Marcos family exercised in keeping intact the mortal remains of their patriarch who could not be buried elsewhere than the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
As it is revealed now, Marcos while alive expressed the wish that when he died he should be buried alongside his fellow soldiers interred in that cemetery.
But Marcos must be damned forever. Such has been the obvious Aquino obsession, not just during the Cory administration but also down to the succeeding rules, specifically those of Fidel V. Ramos, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, and certainly, Benigno Aquino III.
What appeared to be imminently potential was the burial of Marcos under the administration of President Joseph Ejercito Estrada, who had the burial site prepared at the Libingan ng mga Bayani even as he was only about to be sworn in as President in 1998. Cory instantly mobilized the Yellow Cult, threatening an upheaval if Erap proceeded with his intention of finally burying Marcos’ remains at the heroes’ cemetery. Erap cowered, backed off from the burial plan, and the man who had been glorified a hero in an autobiography entitled For Every Tear, A Victory stayed just what he were now, indeed, remains.
During the past election campaign, the burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani was among the top issues made subject of presidential debate: “Payag ka bang malibing ang dating Pangulong Ferdinand E. Marcos sa Libingan ng mga Bayani (Would you agree to the burial of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani)? Taas ang kamay (Raise your hand).” Then Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and Vice President Jejomar C. Binay readily raised their hands. Mar Roxas, as expected, kept his hands down, while Grace Liamanzares betrayed a sudden surge of blood that prompted her right hand to move for raising but held it down, faintly smiling as in a futile effort not to betray she was fidgeting inside from some guilt, as that of a child for having forsaken her parent.
With Duterte winning the presidential race, the burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani became a foregone conclusion. Indeed, come August he issued an executive order allowing such burial, planned to take place sometime in September.
But petitions to rescind the Duterte order swamped the Supreme Court soon after. Duterte appeared uncowed, expressed determination to proceed with the burial plans barring any Supreme Court action providing otherwise.
Then on the Sunday previous to the Tuesday when the Supreme Court voting on the anti-Marcos burial petitions was scheduled, a concert rally was held by the Yellow Cult at the Luneta Park, already protesting an adverse ruling by the Supreme Court. In that rally, past President Benigno Aquino III made his presence felt, short of saying, “Just you try it, Supreme Court. Just you try it.”
The event reminded me of Kris Aquino who, after the Supreme Court ruled against the Aquinos in their dispute with Hacienda Luisita farmers, arrogantly declared, “We will survive the Supreme Court.” Shortly after came the impeachment proceedings that eventually unseated Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato C. Corona.
Now here was the top Aquino already signifying defiance of the High Court even before it could pronounce its verdict. Come Tuesday and the Supreme Court voted 9-5 in favor of burying Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani, reaction from the Yellow Cult was harsh and instantaneous. Meetings were held in various sections of the metropolis for the organization of a massive movement for overturning the Supreme Court ruling.
It was a typical Aquino reaction, begun by Ninoy back in the seventies, to anything adverse to the family interest, more so to anything that would advance another Marcos ascendancy in Philippine politics, In the last elections campaign, when it became clear that Senator Bongbong Marcos was leading in the vice presidential race, the yellows launched a campaign for resurrecting their promoted horrors of Marcos Martial Law for the purpose of frustrating Bongbong’s imminent win. That made me grappling with the question: Why are the Aquinos so damn desperate in keeping a Marcos away from Malacanang?
I ventilated this wonderment in an article in this column at the time, titled “No Political Wound Is Deep Enough To Hurt Forever… Unless You Are An Aquino.” I wrote:
“Come to think of it. Imperial Japan aggressed the Philippines in World War II, her forces heaping untold woes, miseries, and horrors upon the Filipino people, but as early as 1960 we had completed a return to normal friendly relations – all to our two countries’ mutual benefits. It had needed less than two decades for the wounds of war to completely heal.
“But the Aquino hate campaign against Marcos has gone the long course of two score and four and now gives signal that it is not about to end ever, on the contrary to even grow stronger now that the prospects are turning, oh, so bright for Bongbong becoming the country’s vice president in just a matter of less than three months.
“It is as if the woes, miseries, and horrors, if at all, of the Marcos reign far outweigh those of the Japanese occupation in WWII so that while Japan had long been forgiven by the Filipino people, the damning of Marcos must continue on and on.
“Can the former dictator be turning in his grave now (or more appropriately in his chiller, for his remains remain preserved in a refrigerated chamber in Ilocos where the past three decades it has been waiting a hero’s entombment in the Libingan ng mga Bayanni) in the face of a renewed demonizing he is currently getting from his enemies of old?”
The other day, with characteristic circumspection, tact and civil decorum, the Marcos family successfully laid President Ferdinand E. Marcos to rest at the Libingan ng mga Bayani–to the utter consternation of his enemies. The yellows just did not expect the burial to happn that day, and so while they had already massed substantial number of warm bodies to stop the event at all cost, they were caught flat-footed when the moment came.
To the very end, President Marcos continued to be steps ahead of Aquino.
Some observers would like to think of this development as the end of the issue. The Supreme Court has spoken, the President carried out its mandate, and so what else but peace.
I say not quite. The Yellow Cult appears bent on physically, literally turning Marcos in his grave, exhuming him out of the heroes’ cemetery.
As of this writing, crowds in their thousands have begun mobilizing all over the metropolis, apparently confirming developments I perceived happening as a consequence of the Supreme Court decision favoring the Marcos burial. Those developments were ventilated in my article last week entitled “A Week of Tremblor and Omens of Social Unrest”, to wit:
“The Supreme Court decision and the blatant rub out of Espinosa actually constitute the challenge now to the Filipino proletariat: make sense of all the implications of these cases. The burial of Marcos and the killing of Espinosa are just issues, but in the hands of the US it could trigger such disturbances as had brought the downfall not only of Marcos but of other US-unfriendly Philippine administrations in the past. It behooves genuine Philippine socialists to determine exactly where it should fit into this scheme of things and bring about a tremblor with intensity so high it could turn the country upside down – for keeps.”