IN the strange saga of Ferdinand Marcos, his many burials should qualify for a citation in Ripley’s “Believe It or Not!,” an illustrated series about the bizarre.
While exiled in Honolulu, Marcos died on Sept. 28, 1989.
After President Corazon Aquino banned his remains from returning, he was stored in a refrigerated crypt in Honolulu.
Under President Fidel Ramos, the body was transferred from Hawaii to Ilocos Norte on Sept. 7, 1993. Marcos ended up in another refrigerated crypt, which became the major attraction at the Ferdinand E. Marcos Presidential Center in Ilocos Norte.
President Joseph Estrada resurrected the move to bury Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, but cancelled the planned burial on July 11, 1998 in the face of fierce public opposition.
In 2011, President Benigno Aquino III delegated Vice President Jejomar Binay, who recommended the interment of Marcos in his hometown of Batac, with full military honors. PNoy ignored the Binay proposal.
Last Nov. 18, 27 years after his death, Marcos’s remains were finally buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani during a “private burial” that took place at noon.
In this predominantly Catholic country, burials traditionally take place at 3 p.m., timed with Jesus’s death on the cross.
While workers broke off for lunch or stepped out to withdraw their yearend bonus before the weekend queues and monster mall sales began, Marcos slipped in to lie down with heroes, a place history denies him.
This actual “private burial” contrasted starkly with the mock public burial of the effigy of Marcos at the Inayawan Sanitary Landfill last Nov. 15.
I interviewed Linya Ocampo Fernandez, 17, who created with her father, Raymund, the effigy buried in the “Libingan ng mga Basura,” as well as the dummies of the nine Supreme Court magistrates who ruled that President Rodrigo Duterte was within the bounds of law in ordering the burial of Marcos at the Libingan.
Soft-spoken and calm, Linya often collaborates with Mons, the latest being the dictator’s likeness constructed from chicken wire, stuffed with garbage, and used clothes, including a fake medal.
On a rickety cart, the effigy of Marcos had its mock wake at the University of the Philippines Cebu’s Oblation Square before joining multi-sectoral participants of the mock funeral march and burial.
Given only three days to make the effigy, Linya recalled that she and her father were still enthusiastic about the commission. She said that, after living through Martial Law, her Papa did not want his children to go through a similar experience.
Linya learned about the Edsa Revolution from her elementary teachers but read little about “what actually happened” under Martial Law in textbooks. Now homeschooled by Mons, Linya understands that the late dictator was “a very bad man”.
She recalls tagging along with her father to a rally protesting against the vice-presidential bid of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. After listening to survivors talk about how their children and classmates disappeared during Martial Law, Linya realized how the late dictator was “much much worse than what I had imagined”.
“I heard that kids my age like Bongbong Marcos' s son who they say is very ‘gwapo’,” she emailed. “I think that if they had the chance to listen to victims, they would change their minds… I hope they won't vote Sandro Marcos for president.”
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*First published in Sun.Star Cebu’s November 20, 2016 issue of the Sunday editorial-page column, “Matamata”