Marcos 95th birthday

BATAC CITY – There were no overtures for a hero’s burial this time. To Marcos children, their father’s 95th birthday was merely a reunion among family members, close allies and those loyal to the late President Ferdinand Marcos.

The government may have continued rejecting a hero’s burial for the late strongman but the celebrations here were well-fit for a hero.

A government survey that President Aquino has initiated said that the nation was more inclined to give Marcos an honorable burial in Ilocos Norte.

The Marcos family laid out four days of activities beginning Saturday leading up to Marcos’ birthday at the family’s ancestral homes in Batac where his preserved remains have been kept since 1993.

The Batac plaza, fronting the Marcos mansion, was closed to traffic for the day’s celebration while trees and posts were lined with huge tarpaulins bearing Marcos’ images.

Unlike in previous years when September 11 was a non-working holiday for Ilocos Norte, Malacañang did not issue an order suspending work and classes in the province.

Visitors in attendance for the morning event were mostly mayors, local government employees and family guests.

But a sea of men and women clad in red shirts belonging to the Friends of Imelda Romualdez Marcos filled the Immaculate Conception church where a mass was offered for the late president.

Governor Imee Marcos said her father’s birthday was an occasion to reconnect with their relatives and family neighbors here.

“We are delighted to see old, familiar faces here in Batac. It is a big gathering for relatives and families whom we have known from way back,” she said.

When asked by reporters of her family’s final plans for a hero’s burial, Governor Marcos said: “The family has always said that our father deserves it.”

Congresswoman Imelda Marcos was also mum on her husband’s final resting place when she addressed the church crowd after the mass.

“Ferdinand must be happy now. He always wanted peace and this he gave to the people. He has become a man for others,” she said.

In a separate media interview, Imelda said she has surrendered her husband’s fate of being given a hero’s burial to the heavens.

“The answers can be found in heaven not here on land. The truth on Marcos is coming out soon,” she said.

She said her family was thankful that Marcos’ birthday in Ilocos Norte has been growing bigger for the last 23 years since her husband passed away.

But to group members of the Friends of Imelda Romualdez Marcos (or FIRM) who came from Metro Manila, Rizal and Negros Province for Marcos’ birthday, their number has thinned out through the years.

Leonida Rizaga, who belongs to FIRM’s Muntinlupa chapter, said her group has been trooping to Batac for the last five years for the president’s birthday.

“But we are fewer now since life has become difficult. We came here on our own and paid our own fares and food,” she said.

Rizaga said the group is also running low on hopes that Marcos will be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

“The Aquino government has spoken, there are more people who are against burying Marcos at the Libingan. We just have to accept that,” she said. (ARZADON)