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Francisco B. Bondad, former soldier

/ 12:10 AM June 04, 2016

ON MAY 30, 98 years ago, my father was born in rural Cervantes, Ilocos Sur. Today, inscribed on his epitaph in America are the words, “Old Soldiers Never Die, They Just Fade Away”—a fitting tribute to a warrior.

On my mother’s tombstone is carved this endearing line—“Sun Rises, Shadows Fall, Love’s Remembrance Outlasts All”—that makes us siblings shed a tear or two. Should we now take them “home” after 16 long years in Forest Lawn, in California?

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One can’t miss a roadside billboard exhorting loved ones: “Remember Mom and Dad.”

My father knew—like his comrades—that his days could be numbered, and without our prior “consent” secured a pair of burial lots in a foreign land. His only wish: cremation devoid of rituals—like his veteran-soldier-neighbor intimated. Libingan ng mga Bayani never crossed his mind and he could have pretended he didn’t know about it.

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Enlisted into the Philippine military service at the tender age of 21 on July 1, 1939, Dad survived the infamous Death March. He officially rejoined the military on Dec. 5, 1950, joined the Nenita Unit, 7th Battalion Combat Team, Philippine Army (disclosed by one General Catral of the 6th BCT). Army commando units operated in “insurgency-infested” Central Luzon, where I was born in a government hospital. Finally, “Cisco” retired on Feb. 25, 1973, a year after the declaration of martial law. United States’ Department of the Army records in St. Louis, Missouri, show one “Francisco B. Bondad” to have “served as a member of the Philippine Commonwealth Army, in the service of the Armed Forces of the United States from Dec. 11, 1941 to June 30, 1946, the date honorably released.” Pearl Harbor was attacked on Dec. 7, 1941.

It did not matter that he was not interred at the Libingan just to be hailed a “hero.”

We siblings discovered only belatedly, on Dec. 5, 1962, that he was a veteran, upon the approval of his educational benefits by the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office. Should we
decide to take him home (with my mother), it will not matter if there’s no more slot left in the Libingan, what with the “45,000” or more who are buried there. Francisco B. Bondad earned the recognition. Surviving comrades knew!

It is not for the “world” to know!

As the son of a deceased “common soldier,” I have refrained from divisive remarks on the controversial plan to bury or not to bury Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan. I could have consulted my father!

President-elect Rodrigo Duterte pledged support for the Libingan burial during the campaign period, and won by a convincing margin. Is this reflective of public support or indifference?

Being in a similar circumstance as the son FM Jr., I could have also fought for my father’s honor.

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Duterte appears to be unmoved by pleas to reconsider his decision—but a victory for the Marcos family could
be “empty.”

We pray Marcos rests in peace, by all means!

—MANUEL Q. BONDAD,Cervantes, Ilocos Sur

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TAGS: Francisco B. Bondad, Hero, Libingan ng mga Bayani
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