Some Ilocanos want Marcos buried closer to hometown
LAOAG CITY, Philippines—While Ferdinand Marcos died in Hawaii on Sept. 28, 1989, and his remains were brought home to Ilocos Norte four years later, his family had not been able to lay the strongman to rest.
President Duterte has given his commitment to allow the Marcos family to bury him at Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery) in Taguig City. But no details have been given about the burial, according to Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos, the late President’s eldest daughter.
Family members know when they want the burial to happen—most probably in September, the month Marcos was born in 1917 and when he declared martial law in 1972.
“We hope the order comes out soon because the President has designated Sept. 11 as the appropriate burial day and we do not have much time,” Imee has said.
For the past 23 years, the refrigerated body of Marcos has been lying in a glass case at the ancestral home in Batac City. The house has become a virtual mecca for Marcos loyalists, even from the young generation, who travel every year to view their leader, who died at the age of 72.
Opposition to a burial at Libingan ng mga Bayani has not given Marcos loyalists peace since 1989, said Ryan Dulig, a Grade 4 teacher of Nagpatayan Elementary School in Banna town.
“Why would we insist [on burying] an Ilocano hero there (Libingan ng mga Bayani) if we have a great place here where he could be buried. If we bury him in [the] Ilocos, all the more that loyalists will come to see him and his final resting place will surely become a tourist destination,” he said.
The Batac eco park, a hilltop overlooking a lush forest in San Pedro village, has been considered an alternative burial site.
A road and a bridge leading to the park have been put up, said Mathias Malenab, district engineer of the Department of Public Works and Highways. The agency has allocated P27.6 million for the park.
“I prefer that FM (Ferdinand Marcos) would just stay in Batac. Tourists come to Ilocos Norte because of him,” said Pedro Joaquin, 54, a pastor of Everlasting Covenant Ministries Inc.
Leonora Reyes Melchor, a teacher of the Batac District 1 office of the Department of Education, said it would be a great advantage for Ilocos Norte if his remains stayed in the province.
But she immediately changed her line. “He should be buried at Libingan that a hero rightfully deserves,” she said.
“I think [Marcos] will not rest in peace if he will not be properly buried and recognized. On the other hand, Ilocos Norte continues to be on the limelight if his remains stay here. Tourists will always come to visit him. Local residents also generate additional income because of him,” she said.
According to the provincial tourism office, the Marcos mausoleum in Batac has become a prime tourist attraction. Records show that the number of visitors had risen to 142,772 from January to June, compared to 137,306 in the same period last year.
The caretaker at the mausoleum ensures that the wooden door leading to the refrigerated crypt is locked. From time to time, he would open it for a quick viewing by visitors. Taking photos is strictly prohibited.
A Batac funeral parlor provides regular maintenance service to preserve the remains.
The mausoleum is the third most visited place in the province, after the St. Augustine Church, commonly known as the Paoay Church, and the Malacañang of the North, said Ianree Raquel, provincial tourism officer.
The burial could affect local tourism, but “if it’s the best thing to do, then so be it,” Raquel said.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.