Thursday, February 28, 2008

Manila: Libingan ng mga Bayani, our national cemetery

Have you ever visited the Libingan ng mga Bayani? The last time I remember entering the place was way back in kinder during one of our field trips. I've seen the Manila American Cemetery much recently, several times in fact since I'm awed by how grand, serene and well-maintained the place is. And it's sad that our own national cemetery could not compare to an American cemetery on Philippine soil!

So while I was killing time in Fort Bonifacio last Saturday, I decided to pass by Libingan ng mga Bayani. The entrance reads: "I do not know the dignity of his birth, but I do know the glory of his death" which are the words of Gen. Douglas MacArthur from his sentimental 1961 visit to the Philippines.

At the center of the whole cemetery is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. And around it are graves of various Philippine dignitaries including two former presidents, Carlos P. Garcia and Diosdado P. Macapagal. The older Manila North Cemetery has three presidents namely Osmena, Roxas and Magsaysay.

Also buried in the dignitaries section of the Libingan ng mga Bayani are former vice-presidents Arturo M. Tolentino and Salvador H. Laurel.

There is also UN General Assembly president Carlos P. Romulo, for chief justices Enrique M. Fernando, Fred Ruiz Castro and Claudio Teehankee, Sen. Blas F. Ople and PCGG Chair Haydee Yorac among others.

The Libingan ng mga Bayani also has a section reserved for national artists which serve as the final resting place of names such as Nick Joaquin, Ang Kiukok, Jose T. Joya, Levi Celerio, Teodoro M. Locsin and NVM Gonzales. The only thing I didn't like about the area was that the graves were too simple for national artists and scientists, simply marked by crosses, no room for creativity.

OT: I've virtually turned down every opportunity to travel for the past one and a half months. That includes two international trips and a host of local destinations. Bear with me as graduation requirements have been filling up my schedule. But summer has a lot in store which is why I'm already excited!
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