I think they should divide it—not the burial issue but the cemetery. Anyway, people keep creating issues that tend to divide the country—the human rights and the West Philippine Sea issues, for instance—so why not the Libingan?
Isn’t that how we solve most problems? If we have two sides to an issue—both unrelenting—then we all compromise a bit so all parties can be considered. Like the Muslim-Mindanao issue.
Both Christians and Muslims lay claim to it. So what do we do? We take in both sides of the argument and come up with the BBL. In a sense, BBL “divides” Mindanao but not the country. In fact, this “division” (not separation) has the potential to unite the country.
And isn’t that what federalists want to do, too? To divide (not separate) the country into regions, each with its own governments, laws and incomes, but all under one president—so that all sides can be considered and the country better united?
So, if we can think like this about Mindanao and the country, why not the Libingan?
Let’s divide it into sections—section for non-military heroes (they’re heroes, too), sports heroes, artists who fought for the country, media men, and those who are heroes in the eyes of just a number of Filipinos but not in the eyes of others. Here’s where Marcos belongs. The section for soldiers should be bigger because more soldiers die on a regular basis.
We’ll name them differently as well. The section for soldiers could be named, “Libingan ng mga Bayaning Kawal.” The one for mediamen, “Libingan ng mga Bayaning Mamahayag.” I think cause-oriented activists who die fighting for workers’ rights should also be hailed as heroes and be given a section there called, “Libingan ng mga Bayaning Aktibista” (it’s not only with guns that we become heroes, mind you).
And then the one for heroes only in the eyes of some can be called, “Libingan ng mga Iba Pang Bayani”—something like that. Or perhaps, “Libingan ng mga Bayani…Daw (sabi ng iba). 😀
I think that like beauty, heroism is in the eye of the beholder, too. I’ve seen people idolize their fathers or ancestors no matter how bad some people say they were. Moreover, the guy you treat as hero today may not be as heroic as he would be once some well-meaning researcher or historian exposes his dark secret past. And the one you treated villain may come out the true hero, after all. It happens. You can never tell. History keeps being written and re-written.
You think Marcos doesn’t deserve to be treated as hero? That’s your right. I, too, don’t like Marcos there. I fought against his dictatorship. I’m an EDSA People Power hero. I faced tanks and almost got killed. But I am not the entire Philippines. Rights are not my monopoly. Marcos loyalists have rights, too. And there are a good number of them spread across the country. And I’m sure there are worthy soldiers in the AFP who deserve to be called heroes and who would also want Marcos buried at Libingan. They have a right to the place as well.
But what if you were a victim of human rights violation in Marcos’ time?
Well, we were all victims, actually. You probably suffered lots more (and we feel sorry about that), but that doesn’t make you deserving of more rights. That does not give you the power or right to dictate what is right and wrong to the rest of us. Heroes died selflessly, not so they could be given more rights than others, but to promote everyone’s equal rights.
I’d prefer a divided cemetery than a disunited nation.