No call for hero’s burial on Marcos’ 95th birth anniversaryBy Cristina Arzadon
Inquirer Northern Luzon
BATAC CITY, Ilocos Norte, Philippines—There were no overtures for a hero’s burial this time.
To the children of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, their father’s 95th birth anniversary was merely a reunion among family members, close allies and those loyal to the former president.
The government may have continued rejecting a hero’s burial for Marcos but the celebrations here in the past four days were well-fit for a hero.
A government survey that President Benigno Aquino initiated early in his term showed that Filipinos were more inclined to give Marcos an honorable burial in his home province of Ilocos Norte.
The Marcos family laid out four days of activities beginning Saturday leading up to Marcos’ birthday at the family’s ancestral home in this city, where his preserved remains have been kept in a temperature-controlled mausoleum since 1993.
The Batac plaza, fronting the Marcos mansion, was closed to traffic for the celebrations while trees and posts were lined with huge tarpaulins bearing Marcos’ images.
Unlike in previous years when September 11 was a non-working holiday for Ilocos Norte, Malacañang did not issue an order suspending work and classes in the province.
Visitors in attendance for the morning event were mostly mayors, local government employees and family guests.
But men and women clad in red shirts belonging to the Friends of Imelda Romualdez Marcos (Firm) filled the Immaculate Conception Church where a Mass was offered for the late president.
Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos, the strongman’s eldest child, said her father’s birthday was an occasion to reconnect with their relatives, friends and neighbors here.
“We are delighted to see old, familiar faces here in Batac. It is a big gathering for relatives and families whom we have known from way back,” she said.
When asked by reporters of her family’s final plans for a hero’s burial, Imee said: “The family has always said that our father deserves it.”
Ilocos Norte Represenatative Imelda Marcos was silent on her husband’s final resting place when she addressed the church crowd after the Mass.
“Ferdinand must be happy now. He always wanted peace and this he gave to the people. He has become a man for others,” she said.
She said she has surrendered her husband’s fate of being given a hero’s burial to the “heavens.” “The answers can be found in heaven, not here on land. The truth on Marcos is coming out soon,” she said.
She said her family was thankful that Marcos’ birthday celebration in Ilocos Norte has been growing bigger for the last 23 years since her husband passed away.
But to members of Firm who came from Metro Manila, Rizal and Negros island for Marcos’ birthday, their number has been thinning out through the years.
Leonida Rizaga, who belongs to Firm’s Muntinlupa chapter, said her group has been trooping to Batac in the last five years for the late president’s birthday.
“But we are fewer now since life has become difficult. We came here on our own and paid our own fares and food,” she said.
Rizaga said the group has also been running low on hopes that Marcos would be eventually buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. “The Aquino administration has spoken. There are more people who are against burying Marcos at the Libingan. We just have to accept that,” she said.