MIAG-AO, Iloilo (MindaNews/ 18 November) — Today, I was approached by a stranger to attend a candle-lighting event to protest the burial of Marcos.

I felt that this person did not know me; did not know that I eschewed these ceremonies for often they seemed to me shallow, decorative blusterations to attempt solidarity. This person did not know that I grew up in Duterte country; that I was neither one who second-guessed every crass statement and prosecuted The Dutertard, nor was I a die-hard, sing-his-praises Mindanawon assured he could do no wrong because ‘ato ni, bai’.

This person did not know anything about me, but they correctly assumed that I had something to say, something to leave, someone to mourn.

And truly, I mourn.

I mourn for my father, and his brothers, who bore the responsibility of having to grow up despite a father unjustly in jail, despite disturbance of the home invasions and the ransacking and the ever-present physical threats.

I mourn for my grandfather, the human rights lawyer, who went to jail for defending the writ of Habeas Corpus, for daring to assert not only his rights but those of perfect strangers, for dying before I could take anything from him but the smell of rum and cigarettes.

I mourn for my grandmother, the teacher, who took up his gauntlet, spoke for him in the rallies upon his incarceration, who ran and claimed Congress upon his death to avenge and defend human rights. Today is her birthday.

I mourn for the thousands who have dealt with their losses, and now have to face the braided insult of those who deny that loss, their pain, their grief and the seemingly insurmountable odds it took to be strong again.

I mourn for the suppression, even the denial, of that which has made us stronger; for the children who grew up believing their lolos, lolas, titos and titas, were the true heroes, and not this waxy dead thing to be lain in the ground.

I mourn for these true heroes Marcos made, many of whom do not have whole bodies to lie in proper graves.

I am baffled, Mr. President, at you and at those of your administration, for you were alive and articulate in the time of Martial law. For I know you are aware in your heart of hearts that ‘forgiving’ this beaten, sallow corpse is an idea as preposterous as the denial of Marcos’ crimes.

Should I light any candle tonight, it is in mourning for the loss in the souls you have sold.

(Batang Mindanaw is the youth section of MindaNews. Sage Danielle T. Ilagan of Davao City is a junior BS Biology student at the University of the Philippines – Visayas in Miag-ao, Iloilo).