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Loyalists insist on Libingan burial

LAOAG CITY—Former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. was a no-show at his late father’s 99th birthday celebration here on Sunday, which drew Ilocano well-wishers, including hundreds of motorcycle riders who mounted a Unity Ride to dramatize their demand for the burial of the strongman at Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Marcos’ widow, Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos, and his daughter, Gov. Imee Marcos, greeted Ilocanos, led a wreath-laying ceremony at the Sarrat town plaza and attended Mass.

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Bongbong was in Italy to attend the wedding of actress Isabelle Daza, daughter of the late Gabriel “Bong” Daza III. Bongbong, a close friend of Bong, walked Daza down the aisle when she wed French businessman Adrien Semblat.

Marcos’ younger daughter, Irene Marcos-Araneta, also failed to join the activities but no reason was given for her absence.

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But on Instagram, Bongbong posted a black and white photograph of him beside his father. He wrote: “To celebrate my father’s birthday is to remember the dreams and aspirations he had for his beloved Philippines. Let us continue to work together to bring the vision of progress, dynamism and greatness to our country and our people! Never give up, Never lose hope.” He posted this message with the hashtag #ForeverMarcos.

Many people traveled to Ilocos Norte province because of President Duterte’s decision to bury Marcos at Libingan. But the scheduled Sept. 18 burial was suspended by the Supreme Court, which is hearing the petitions to bar the former president from being interred there.

The high court’s status quo ante order, extended until Oct. 18, prevented the Department of National Defense from transporting Marcos’ body from its crypt in Batac City to Libingan in Taguig City.

Joseph Odlaumor Pacol, 29, a member of the Ilocos Norte Deaf Association here, was among those who biked from the city to Sarrat town, where Marcos was born, and then to Batac City.

Flashing the “V” sign, Pacol and other bikers signed the petition seeking Marcos’ burial at Libingan.

Gary Ronquillo, coordinator of the 700-member Motorcycle Philippines Federation of Ilocos Norte, said the Unity Ride drew bikers from the neighboring provinces of Cagayan and Ilocos Sur.

HAIL ‘APO’  A government worker cleans the statue of strongman Ferdinand Marcos in Sarrat town, Ilocos Norte province. EV ESPIRITU / Inquirer Northern Luzon

HAIL ‘APO’ A government worker cleans the statue of strongman Ferdinand Marcos in Sarrat town, Ilocos Norte province. EV ESPIRITU / Inquirer Northern Luzon

Marcos loyalists made sure that message was sent across provinces with candle-lighting ceremonies and their own unity walk scheduled to take place simultaneously at sundown on Sunday.

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“Salamat Apo” rallies and gatherings were organized in Agusan del Norte, Pangasinan, Laguna and Leyte provinces, according to Laoag officials. The “Ilibing Na” signature campaign seeking a million petitioners was also the highlight of the celebrations here and in other provinces.

For many Ilocanos, Marcos’ birthday celebration was not a political activity.

Sarrat worker Renz Catacutan celebrated his 27th birthday on Saturday by devoting his time cleaning Marcos’ gold-painted statue, saying it was his best way to remember the Ilocano leader.

Catacutan was part of a group of 30 workers who spruced up the Sarrat plaza, the centerpiece of which is the six-foot Marcos statue on a 12-foot pedestal.

But some Sarrat residents admitted to being lukewarm to the festivities because of the Supreme Court order. Had the Sept. 18 burial been allowed, Marcos’ casket would have been brought to the 347-year-old Santa Monica Church for an overnight vigil, to allow relatives, friends and supporters to pay their last respects.

“It would have been best if all these preparations are for his return,” said a 40-year-old woman, who planted fresh grass on the front yard of the old Sarrat town hall on Saturday.

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TAGS: Ferdinand Marcos, Libingan, Libingan ng mga Bayani, Marcos, Martial law
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