‘But they can never bury his sins’
It should have been Lily Hilao, Ed Jopson, Lean Alejandro, Ditto Sarmiento, Doc Johnny Escandor, Macli-ing Dulag, Archimedes Trajano or any one of the Jabidah youth in his resting place. But, alas, he killed an entire generation of leaders and enriched his cronies, many of whom are richer today than when he made them. He, alongside his loyal henchmen and women, most especially his first lady, brought the economy of the entire country to its knees. Legitimate businesses were taken away from their rightful owners, and political opponents were sent to prison without charges or after trial by kangaroo courts. Dissidents were executed, or worse, disappeared, never to be seen again.
They say it’s to heal the nation, when in truth it’s for vindication: to declare to the entire country that “We told you, he was a hero! Look, he is buried at the heroes’ cemetery! He was right!”
He was a hero, claims one supporter pointing to the glorious cultural center and convention center of his wife Imelda, and to the expressways and to “BLISS” houses he built. He was a savior who wanted to rid the country of communism, claims another who does not even have a hint of what communism is. He was a valiant warrior, claims another who points to his fake medals and fabricated military records.
He will not be remembered alongside the names of Julius Caesar, Constantine, Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Thomas Jefferson, or his friend Lee Kuan Yew—as he had hoped and dreamed of. Instead, he will go down in history beside the names of Moammar Gadhafi, Saddam Hussein, Francisco Franco, Adolf Hitler, and Joseph Stalin, etched forever in memories of decent people as someone who destroyed his country, plundered its treasury and stole billions of dollars, built grand buildings to please his wife, and massacred his own people for personal gain, while making sure his family would become richer than they could ever imagine even in their wildest dreams.
Conjuring up an image of a father killing his own children is painful, to say the least. But that was what martial law, the 21-year dictatorship, was.
And what of the many true heroes who bravely opposed, nay, defied, his regime and paid with their lives? Many of them will never even have the opportunity of a proper burial.
His son once said that history should be left to historians. His father’s victims have long declared: Ferdinand Marcos Sr. is NOT a hero.
Go ahead and bury him. For burial does not wash away his sins. Dictator Marcos is still very much alive. There is still wide-spread poverty, corruption, family separations, rebellion, and many social ills that can be traced back to his regime. Not to mention that there are still desaparecidos and extrajudicial killings, both of which he is well known for.
Shakespeare wrote, “The evil that men do lives long after them, the good is oft interred with their bones.” And Marcos’ evil deeds far, far outweigh his good ones.
Go ahead, bury him in the heroes’ cemetery, accord him with the highest honors any late president of the republic is entitled to. Build a monument on top of his grave should you desire. All of this won’t matter anyway.
Where a man is buried does not determine his heroism—even when he is buried alongside true heroes. Because if that were the case, Andres Bonifacio, whose bones could not be found to this day, would not be revered and loved today for the hero he truly is.
We may bury the past, but never its lessons. They may bury his body but they can never bury his sins, his crimes.
He may be buried like a hero alongside true heroes, but he will never be one.
—RODRIGO DE LOS REYES, [email protected]
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