Saturday, September 17, 2016

Ilocanos in Hawaii coming home for FM burial

By Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff reporter

LAOAG CITY—When Ferdinand E. Marcos died in exile in Hawaii on September 28, 1989, his body was only flown back to his homeland four years later. That time a planeload of Ilocanos went home with him.

Though already back in the country, the body of the former President remained unburied. And after 27 years, newly elected President Rodrigo R. Duterte allowed Mr. Marcos’ burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani with all the honors befitting a former President and a soldier.

With the burial scheduled, some Ilocanos in Hawaii are also scheduled to come home to the Philippines to witness the burial. The Ilocanos are mostly the same as those who accompanied Mr. Marcos body to the Philippines in 1993.

A native of Sarrat, Ilocos Norte, Engr. Ric Agnes who heads the Marcos for Peace Movement (MPM) based in Honolulu, Hawaii said they are delighted to know about the latest development.

“Ever since the passing of the late President, it has always been the desire of Filipinos in Hawaii that his remains be buried with full highest degree of honor given to a President and war hero. For this reason, we are planning to come and attend as our expression of respect to the highest degree as he will be laid to rest finally at the Libingan,” Mr. Agnes said in a phone interview.

The MPM is an active group of Marcos supporters in Hawaii who have long been pushing previous administrations to allow the burial of Mr. Marcos at Libingan ng mga Bayani with full military honors

From time to time or when the issue of Mr. Marcos burial crops up, the group, composed of mostly Ilocano migrants and professionals in Hawaii would organize peaceful rallies and express support for the best interest of their homeland. 

For Stanley Baluscang, a licensed security officer in Hawaii, he said, “This is the perfect time in the history of the Filipinos to bury our greatest late Philippine President Ferdinand E. Marcos to the Libingan ng mga Bayani.” He said it is what he had long prayed for so that the old man may finally rest in peace. 

“I am very happy that Marcos, a World War II veteran will now be buried at Libingan. He was not just an ordinary soldier but a decorated officer. He deserved our greatest respect with full military honors,” said Avelino Felicitas, 67, a former university professor who migrated to Honolulu, Hawaii since 2008 after staying in Wapato, Washington.

Silvino Bermisa, also a Filipino migrant in Honolulu since 1974 said he takes pride in Mr. Marcos and his leadership particularly in making the country’s economy one of the richest during his time. 

Rizal Fernandez who traces his roots in Badoc, Ilocos Norte said that when the Marcos family was in exile, he would join some friends and help in the crowd control of people visiting their home in Makiki heights. 

“There were times when we would also sacrifice our time to work and join rallies for our beloved president,” Mr. Fernandez added citing a huge number of Filipinos in Hawaii made a lot of sacrifices to keep the Marcos family safe and at home during their exile.

Given the chance and should he not maximize his vacation leave, Mr. Fernandez said he would love to come and see the former President buried at the Libingan. 

Eddie Bueno who hails from San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte and now residing in Hawaii with his family said there were times before when they would also visit the Marcos family in their Hawaiian home.

“We are happy for him [Mr. Marcos]. With the firm decision of President Duterte to allow his burial at Libingan, I guess there is no one that can stop it now,” Mr. Bueno said.

For the past 23 years, mortician Frank Malabed succeeded in keeping the body of Marcos well-preserved at the Batac mausoleum. 

Every year, sources said Mr. Malabed would visit the body and ensure proper maintenance of his remains. 

Over the years, Batac City has maintained its steady influx of tourists probably drawing interest   for its best tasting empanada and out of curiosity of a man lying in a refrigerated crypt. 

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