COMMENTARY: Libingan ng mga Bayani

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 29 May) — Dear Mayor Duterte:

There are that feelings of sadness, anger, betrayal, and confusion when I heard you announce your approval of the late President Marcos’ burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.


Martial law broke my heart when the first person I truly loved was killed by the military and whose body was found in a tin improvised coffin in Davao Norte, was brought back here in Davao in that sealed improvised coffin We did not even dare look at his remains for the grief and fear that if we appeared intimate to the “dead”, we might be the next victim of the wanton killings that military had the power to do during martial law.

That victim was Atty. Nick Solana. He was a budding young lawyer then, brilliant, but opted to join the rebels in the countryside as he explained to me and the rest of the young activists then in Ateneo de Davao that the true liberation of the suffering masses will have to happen among the masses in the countryside. He explained that organic intellectuals were needed in the countryside to provide theoretical frameworks to the masses to complete their understanding of the whys, the whats, the whos, and the hows in the society that were shackling them in dire poverty.

Nick was the first intellectual I respected and he etched in my heart the meaning of “serving the people.”

Another bout of broken- heartedness happened when I loved again the second man who was another patriot during martial law and until the time he died three years ago. Our love story during martial law was something I always wish I could make into a screenplay. He was still a seminarian when we met. We fell in love. He was ordained a priest and chose to serve his remote parish in Bukidnon, but after two to three years, he left the priesthood and joined the revolutionary forces, again in the countryside.

The dangers of being in the full-time revolutionary movement was something I really did not understand fully at that time, that when we decided to “elope,” I will join him in the countryside, it was so fancy and thrilling, I said “yes!” As fate would have it, when he fetched me in Davao, I had left to meet up with him in the original rendezvous we agreed upon. That was our last contact and the next ones were when I learned he was captured twice by the military, tortured and almost got killed. Luckily, he was set free and the next thing I learned about him was that he continued being a revolutionary and the hard life in the underground caused him many ailments until he succumbed to death three years ago.

He was ex-priest Wilfredo Galleto.

The two men I loved most, victimized by martial law, concocted by the late President Marcos!

Angered and confused.

The thought of Marcos being buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani vexed.

The two men I loved and lost because of martial law left in me many unanswered questions and up to this writing grip me with grief.

The two men I loved and lost, I considered bayani in the truest form and substance.

There are thousands of Filipinos like me, silently grieving the loss of our loved ones who offered their lives for our people and our country, and pulling through the many forms of psychological tortures martial law has effected in our lives.


Allowing the burial of Mr. Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani is re-opening wounds and pains!

The least I can do now in honoring the memories and deeds of Nick and Willie and the thousands of heroes like them felled by martial law is to be bold in telling you that I am angry and confused in your latest pronouncement about Mr. Marcos’ burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

You said: “I am allowing the late President to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, not because he is ‘bayani’ but as a Filipino soldier”.

If you have not considered him as ‘bayani,’ why allow him to be buried in a historical sacred place intended for bayanis?

I cannot see the logic, the rationale, the wisdom…in your pronouncement.

Mayor Rudy, now our President, please reconsider your decision about the burial place of Mr. Marcos.


I have always looked up to you as protector of the ordinary people, you are on the side of the oppressed, and you will always serve the interest of the marginalized.

These are your symbols to me. That is why I supported and campaigned for you here in Davao and to all friends and relatives in the Philippines and abroad. To some extent I even loved you, as our beloved mayor, I have always been proud of you, positioning and defending your side among your critics, and declaring this love and reverence for you in public, and even among your intimate friends like Judge Dory Avisado. There was even one time, last year, when Inday Sara came to Dencia’s restaurant, I boldly presented myself to her, told her that I admired and respected her, and I dared asked her if it was true that you were planning to run as President, and when she said it was only you who would have the final answer to my question, I dared again and told her: “please, sana wag na, kasi, baka me magtangka sa buhay nya and we do not want to lose him.”

I cannot understand Mayor, why, in your announcement of allowing Mr. Marcos’ burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, I felt betrayed. I felt you are no longer feeling for an ordinary person like me, and somehow I feel you have forgotten to consider the sentiments of the thousands and maybe even millions of the ordinary people who voted for you, and make you now our President, on the issue of Mr. Marcos burial.

The issue of his burial in the Libingan ng mga Bayani is creating chasm between you and us, your supporters, your ordinary people, the compatriots.

I still believe in your sincerity to bring about change in our rotten society, that you still have the heart for the poor, but please, do not make us doubt your love and understanding of the feelings of the direct and indirect victims of the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos.

While burying Mr. Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani will gladden the Marcos’ clan and his loyalists, there are cries of those whose loved ones spilled blood in our lands, my/our question now: in whose hands are the blood of our “bayanis” glued?

Again, my dear Mayor, please reconsider your decision about Mr. Marcos’ burial site.

May God guide you and provide you wisdom.

Salamat! (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Malou Tiangco, is a social worker, a senior citizen who spent four decades in the social transformation movements in the Philippines, “and will continue to be such …for our country, for our people!”)