The other day, I hitched a ride with a friend who had to pass by his family’s mausoleum at Manila Memorial Park in Sucat, Parañaque. He had to check on some painting and maintenance work he was having done on it in anticipation of the All Saint’s Day visits.
As he peered up at the mausoleum’s ceiling, which a painter was covering with pink pigment dripping from a roller on a long stick when he had specified beige, I knew I was in for a bit of a wait so I took a stroll around the area.
I found this simple white tomb right behind the one beside that of my friend’s family. While the other mausoleums were closed affairs with gates and locks, this was the only open one in the vicinity, consisting merely of a roof and four pillars.
I wondered who could have been buried in such simplicity amidst the grandeur of the other edifices. There were no flowers, candles, statues of saints. Nothing save a small pot of purple and blue flowers in front of the tombstone.
Coming closer, I saw that it was the tomb of a hero.
How many of the Filipinos who wore yellow ribbons during the People Power revolution of 1986 know that the man who was their inspiration rests in a plain white marble tomb, starkly unadorned, devoid of the usual signs of grief and affection, while the adversary he spent half his life battling is embalmed and on display in a climate-controlled chamber, surrounded by guards on solemn vigil, memorabilia, and an eternal flame?
This was not the original plan for this hero’s tomb, my friend told me. The family wanted to build it on a lot on the main road of the cemetery, but none were available save for this one that is set back behind a row of other mausoleums. It was also planned that his remains would be moved to a permanent monument in his hometown, Tarlac; but twenty-five years have passed and still here he stays.
Yet, somehow, this humble resting place is more meaningful and spiritual, befitting a hero who lives on in his countrymen’s hearts.