For true Catholic believers, when a person dies, his or her soul goes to one of three places: heaven, purgatory or hell. For those who do not believe in an afterlife, there is nothing else after death. To them, since the brain is dead and the flesh rots — there is no thought nor feeling left. Other religions have their own notions of what happens when a person dies including: reincarnation, marrying 72 pretty virgins, escaping the cycle of Karma or whatever.
The late dictator was a Catholic and so is his family. But one’s beliefs does not really tell us for sure what really happens after death so no one can really confirm where Marcos is. Even believing that there is such a thing as a soul is a matter of faith, speculation or personal experience of contact with a deceased person.
Some Catholics say that most likely, Marcos’ soul is burning in hell because he has committed many horrible sins. But then again, since God’s mercy is infinite, it might be possible that he repented before he died and he may be in heaven. It’s also conceivable that his soul is being purified in purgatory. Or for those who do not believe in a soul, Marcos may simply be a lifeless frozen corpse.
Whether Marcos is in heaven, purgatory, hell, an inanimate mummy, reincarnated or married to 72 virgins — honoring or dishonoring him does not affect him one bit. Neither action elates nor saddens him. If he is in heaven, he can’t be happier than he already is. If in purgatory or hell, burying him as a hero or condemning him as a scoundrel does not lessen his suffering. If he is nothing more than a lifeless deteriorated cadaver, then he feels nothing. If reincarnated, same thing.
If the manner of burial of the tyrant has no effect on him whatsoever, what is the problem? Why should anybody care where or how he is buried?
Understandably, many hate him for all of his transgressions. He imprisoned, tortured or murdered his political enemies. He engaged in all kinds of corruption and stole directly from the national treasury. He ruled by way of intimidation or coercion.
But realistically, they can no longer punish, take revenge or hurt him. Some may imagine or think they can still hurt him by not allowing him even an iota of respect. The dead are dead — plain and simple. They don’t feel anything.
On the other hand, for those who loved him or owed him something, like his family or friends or those whom he enriched or benefited in some way — they also can absolutely do nothing to benefit him in a material, physical or psychological way. Arguably, praying continuously for his soul, some believe, may lessen his time in purgatory, if he is there. Again, a matter of faith and speculation.
If therefore, burying Marcos as a hero at Libingan ng mga Bayani or in Ilocos Norte with some ceremonial honors or denying him any kind of honor at all for being a tyrant — has no effect whatsoever on Marcos himself — why are we even debating the manner of burial that he should have?
Clearly, the debate has nothing to do with benefiting or hurting the dead Marcos. It has to do with the living Marcoses. They have been moving heaven and earth, using their unlimited resources and pushing for a hero burial for their despotic patriarch. It is in their interest to sanitize the Marcos name.
On the other hand, those who remember the darkness of the Marcos years correctly do not want a national lie to be imposed on the people. They know that Marcos was the Philippines’s worst villain and certainly not a hero. They find abominable the distortion of providing a hero burial for Marcos or even giving him any kind of honor for that matter — military or otherwise.
One probable reason for the Marcoses quest to bury the dictator as a hero or at least with some honor is the likely promise to him by surviving family members to restore some good to his name
Another reason is to cloud the issue and give future generations the impression that he in fact was a hero. Expectedly, the memories of atrocities and excesses of the Marcos regime will dim over time. Even those who were imprisoned or whose family members were murdered will soon want to forget as we tend to block out unpleasant memories.
As for the younger generation, they were not hurt by Marcos and have no strong feelings against him or his family. They have nothing to remember or forget.
The present generation of Marcoses can never completely sanitize their name — no matter what propaganda attempts are made to twist facts, lie or reinvent history. But short memories, a younger generation with no memories of the Marcos regime and the admirable forgiving culture of Filipinos could soften past impressions and reopen avenues in the future for a Marcos to run for the presidency.
Do I have any problems with a Marcos becoming president in the future? Yes and no.
Yes, if that Marcos will follow the corrupt, greedy, deceptive, brutal tyrannical ways of his or her ancestor and continue lying to the people about the dictator’s dark past.
No, if that Marcos were to make up for the sins of his forbear, sincerely use his talents and resources to truly serve and improve the lives of our people.
It does not make sense nor is it fair to condemn future generations for ancestral sins that they had nothing to do with.
From something evil, unexpectedly, great good sometimes comes. In the end — God who works in strange ways —rules.
Note: The California State Bar honors Atty. Ted Laguatan as one of the best immigration lawyers in the country. He is one of only 29 US lawyers officially certified continuously as an Expert Specialist in Immigration Law for more than 20 years. He also does accident cases and complex litigation. For communications (San Francisco area): 455 Hickey Ste. 516, Daly City, Ca 94015 Tel 650 991 1154 Fax659 – 991- 1186 Email [email protected]