Bury Marcos, fight on
Why should we care where Ferdinand Marcos is buried? He is long dead. Let them finally stick him in the ground and be done with it. That it is ground where the nation buries those who dedicated their lives to its service is beside the point.
The Libingan ng mga Bayani is the graveyard of the Establishment, to use a 1960s word. Would Jose Ma. Sison be buried in it? Not likely. Will Sison’s name be enshrined at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani? Maybe not even. Sison missed his chance at martyrdom a long time ago. Would Nur Misuari be buried in the Libingan? Not likely either. He is always elsewhere, where there is no fighting, unlike the Moro fighters who wrote “Victory or to the graveyard” in their blood and died where they stood.
Visit the Libingan ng mga Bayani and you will be in a sea of simple white crosses. There is sameness and anonymity. You will be hard put to locate a grave if you do not know exactly where it is. Weathered by the elements, the names engraved on many of the crosses can hardly be read. There is silence, except when a plane passes very low overhead, as it is directly under the path of aircraft landing at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. And there is the very palpable feeling of an absolute dimension that we know we all share, a common destiny, a common fate.
I was in my senior year in high school when we studied “Antigone,” one of the great Greek tragedies. It was also the year when martial law was declared, when agents of the Military Intelligence Group came to our house in the night and arrested me without a warrant, just two days past my 17th birthday. Antigone and I, what did we have in common? I suppose the desire to do what we thought was right. Antigone wanted to bury her rebel brother, Polyneices, instead of allowing his body to rot in the sun as decreed by her uncle, King Creon. Greek tragedy being what it is, of course, everyone in the cast dies, except for the stubborn and prideful Creon, who loses everyone he loves and must bear the unbearable consequences of his hubris.
Here we are, like the Greek chorus, commenting on the action unfolding before us. Was the Marcos regime a golden era for the country? This is historical revisionism, most certainly. But history is revising itself all the time. Why is Islam occupying Europe, centuries after the Europeans sallied forth to take the Holy Land from the Arabs? Why are the Neo-Nazis very much alive and kicking in Germany? Why is communist China now the foremost exponent of capitalism? Why are the Israelis and Palestinians locked in eternal conflict? Why did Donald Trump win? Why is the US Border Patrol unable to stem the tide of Mexicans crossing the Rio Grande and wanting to live and work in land that was once theirs? Why, despite my days and nights at the barricades of Edsa and the retaking of Malacañang in 1986, have I attended just one commemoration of that momentous, liberating event?
If we are to learn anything from Greek tragedy, it is to realize that nothing is preordained, that we do not live in an orderly universe. The tragedy of our situation is sometimes we think there is linearity and logic in our political life. There is none. There is the cycle of conflict and struggle and it will never end, for we must persist in our paths and continue to do what we think is right.
Our ire should not be directed at the dead but at those who carry on the Marcosian legacy of murder, plunder and corruption, those who walk this earth remorseless and unashamed. Let his body be removed from the field of battle and let us continue the fight. Ferdinand Marcos is in the dustbin of history, wherever his body may lie.
Roderick Toledo is a freelance communication projects manager.
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