Batac observes Marcos' 90th birthday
by Cristina Arzadon
BATAC CITY (19 September) -- Former First Lady Imelda Marcos may no longer be keen on having the remains of her husband be buried at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani when she led provincial officials in touring a mountainous site here as an eco-park and a proposed burial ground for the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
Mrs. Marcos offered a mass at the Batac church and at the air-conditioned mausoleum where her husband's frozen remains are kept before boarding a four-wheel drive van that took her to the Maharlika eco-park in the village of San Pedro here.
Accompanied by her nephew Ilocos Norte Gov. Michael Keon, Mrs. Marcos led a simple ceremony in the presence of local officials to inaugurate the site where only four wheel drive cars could climb.
The Marcos widow had reportedly bought the 50-hectare lot which she called a "paradise" to put up an eco-tourism area and supposedly a burial ground for her husband.
The site is being developed as an alternative ground should the Marcos family's efforts to secure a burial place for the late president at the Libingan ng mga Bayani fail.
The eco-park is being jointly developed by Marcos nephew board member Mariano Marcos II and investors from the Fort Ilocandia Resort and Casino which is run by Chinese businessman Jack Lam.
"Perhaps, (Godly spirit) doesn't want the late president to have a burial ground at the Libingan but in the paradise (Maharlika park) that the Lord has created," the Marcos widow said.
Mrs. Marcos, who was garbed in a red terno, however, said she would continue working on having her husband accorded a hero's burial.
"If there's one person who had been persecuted in life and in death (it was Marcos). For two decades, he has been denied an honorable burial," she said.
"This vilification continues…. When he topped the bar, they said he cheated, when he was awarded medals of valor, they said they were fake and when he was a strong leader, they said he was a dictator," Mrs. Marcos added.
Attendance to the annual observance of Marcos' birthday, known locally as Marcos Day, had thinned out since 1998 after former Ilocos Norte Governor-now Rep. Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. formally declared September 11 as a special day for his father.
Elaborately-prepared activities were separately held at the provincial Capitol in Laoag and at the state-owned Mariano Marcos State University here where an exhibit of Marcos' works were opened.
Since Marcos Day had not been approved as a special holiday in Ilocos Norte, mostly schoolchildren and government workers attended the program at the Capitol stage.
Hundreds of schoolchildren presented a tableau depicting the highlights of Marcos' 20-year regime such as the Green Revolution, Rural electrification, sports development and educational reform.
Mrs. Marcos was visibly amused while the schoolchildren paraded various programs that described specific periods in her husband's administration.
"I saw in the tableau that the only thing that will last forever is the true, the good and the beautiful," the widow said later.
Bongbong and siblings Imee Marcos and Irene Marcos-Araneta were no-shows on their father's 90th birthday because they were reportedly abroad to enroll their children.
And for the first time since Ilocanos started observing Marcos Day, no Marcos loyalists from around the country joined the event. (PIA) [top]