I posted what, in my mind, was a tongue-in-cheek statement about the burial of former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr the other day that created a little buzz for a small clique of anti-Marcos advocates on Twitter. One thing I realised is that a lot of so-called “educated” members of Philippine society do not get dry humour and cannot think outside the box. Here was my tweet:
Sigh…some people are wasting too much time. To remove the controversy, Libingan ng mga Bayani should be renamed "Libingan ng mga namatay".
— ilda (@ilda_talk) August 31, 2016
For those who cannot understand Fillipino, the word “namatay” means died. Loosely translated, “libingan ng mga namatay” in English means “cemetery for those who died”.
Apparently, some of these anti-Marcos advocates thought my tweet was too stupid. Some referred to me as having “low I.Q.” A few asked “Why, is there a cemetery for people who are still alive?”
Well, good grief. If I have to explain something so simple, there’s a good chance they won’t understand the explanation.
Perhaps I should have put a smiley or some kind of emoticon to show that I was joking. But those familiar with Twitter would know that the 140-character limit sometimes prevents users from expressing everything they want to express in one post. Besides, those who are used to my dry sense of humour would have easily gotten the joke. I don’t make a habit of using emoticons to tell the reader that what they are reading is a joke. It’s a good thing most Get Real Post subscribers seem to get me. Unfortunately, there are a lot of Filipinos who prefer jokes to be delivered a-la Tito-Vic-and-Joey style; i.e. in slapstick form. Jokes that are too subtle or nuanced for the Filipino mind tend to be taken literally. Now I understand why a lot of afternoon variety shows have to use canned laughter to accompany every joke.
Almost 30 years after his death, some Filipinos still feel threatened by Marcos. It’s like they fear he might return once his body is buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB). Maybe they are being superstitious. Or maybe it’s just their ego getting in the way of rational thinking. Whatever it is, it is consuming them in an unhealthy way.Truth be told, the only reason anti-Marcos advocates are up in arms about his scheduled burial at the LNMB is because of the term “bayani” or hero. The name of the cemetery suggests that it is exclusively reserved for the country’s heroes. The thought that Marcos will be buried as a “hero” along with the country’s supposedly “finest” men and women who ever lived infuriates them. It doesn’t matter how many times President Rodrigo Duterte explains to them that the cemetery is not just for “heroes” and that Marcos will be buried there as a former President and Filipino soldier, which the cemetery guidelines allow, they still think it is a travesty and an insult to the Martial Law victims.
To explain my 140-character Twitter post further, the controversy over Marcos burial at LNMB is creating unnecessary and useless anxiety for some people. I find their reaction too overly-emotional and sensitive, which was why I was trying to lighten up the issue a bit. Sadly, anti-Marcos advocates seem to be losing sleep over an artificial construct — something people came up with. The name of the cemetery has created an issue and has divided Filipinos for decades to the detriment of Philippine society.
My Twitter post light-heartedly suggested that to remove the problem or controversy over Marcos burial at LNMB, the Philippine government should consider changing the name to something more generic. Since anti-Marcos advocates will find an issue out of any term added to it, naming it Libingan ng mga Namatay could finally make them happy. After all, not everyone buried in that cemetery was a hero. A lot of the dead soldiers who participated in the atrocities during Martial Law could be buried there too. Heck, even a dog that was used by the military during former President Cory Aquino’s term is buried there.
Filipinos need to address the root of the problem. They are too emotional for their own good. They need to accept that there is no law that says Marcos cannot be buried at the LNMB. The argument that Marcos was a crook and human rights violator won’t work because the man himself wasn’t convicted in a Philippine court of any of the allegations they are throwing at him.They also need to accept the fact that after 30 years and two Aquino governments, they failed to prevent this problem. They have no one but themselves to blame for lacking the foresight to demand from the Aquinos that something be done to block any plans for a Marcos burial at the LNMB. It’s not like the Marcoses were secretly planning this. His remains were kept refrigerated in a glass casket until such time someone kind enough would come along and allow them to have the burial they want.
I find the anti-Marcos advocates too slow to act and too quick to cry foul. They could have simply spent some time within the last 30 years lobbying the Armed Forces of the Philippines to change its guidelines on who can be buried at the LNMB. They could have argued that the clause “Marcos is not allowed” be added in the guideline. It’s something so simple they didn’t even think about it. They had 30 years to come up with something to avoid this situation. One can be forgiven for thinking they had been dumb enough to allow things to get to this point where the Supreme Court has to intervene. The worst part is, the issue will not end even with a decision from the justices. Whatever they decide –whether to allow or to deny a Marcos burial at LNMB, expect both camps to continue fighting over it.
Indeed, the Philippines is a country divided over trivial issues that could have been solved had foresight and rational thinking been applied early on. There’s a joke to be made there somewhere.
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