FORTICH, Antonio Y.

Fortich Antonio Yapsutco

Antonio Fortich was one of the Catholic bishops who opposed martial law, convinced that it was devastating to the structure of social and human life in the Philippines.

Fortich served in the 1960s  in the troubled diocese of Bacolod in Negros Occidental. The province was known for its vast sugarcane haciendas, a system of landownership that ensured great wealth for the few landowners (hacenderos) and extreme poverty to the sugarcane workers (sakadas). Thus the diocese was a direct witness to the direst situations of poverty, hunger, ignorance, and social tension and unrest.

As soon as he became bishop in 1967, Fortich started several wide-ranging reforms. One of his first acts as bishop was to call his official residence in Bacolod City (the Bishop's Palace) as "the house of the people" to stress that he was taking the people’s problem seriously. He introduced radically new policies, including the immediate implementation of land reform on church properties in the diocese. He pushed for the establishment of pro-poor programs, including a social action center and legal aid for the poor in the diocese. He allowed and even encouraged his priests to get involved in initiatives for sugarcane workers, including the organization of the National Federation of Sugarcane Workers and the Dacongcogon Sugar, Rice and Corn Cooperative.

Fortich even convinced several hacenderos and businessmen to support his advocacy. He infected  them with his enthusiasm, and encouraged them to get involved in his social action projects.

Fortich sought to ensure the freedom and safety of his priests, many of whom were active in social action and a good number actually supportive of NPA guerrillas operating in their parishes, while at the same time keeping the trust and support of the landowners who were at least initially supportive of martial law.

Fortich openly supported the cause of the poor people during a land conflict in Bago City. Villagers came to a meeting at Fortich’s invitation, convinced that he would plead their cause. But when the meeting was over, the police arrested everyone, including the children.

Fortich supported  Fr. Brian Gore, one of the priests in his diocese, and eight others falsely accused of killing a mayor. Fortich attended almost all the 50 court sessions called to hear the case.

He supported the activist priests in his diocese and those involved in social action, while constantly reminding them their sacramental duties. "It's great to be talking about social issues and to feel you are part of the national struggle. But if someone is sick in your parish, are you there to (give them the sacrament)?" he reminded his priests.

The military suspected the bishop of supporting the communists. But Fortich knew where he stood. "I have no problem with a world in which there are rich and poor. You have an automobile, and I have a bicycle, so what? But I cannot accept that some people have to live by scavenging for food in the garbage cans of others."

The bishop liked to say, "there can be no peace if there is no justice."

Fortich is a 1973 recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award for public service, and a nominee of the Nobel Peace Prize.

He died in 2003 of natural cause. He was 89.


Born 11 August 1913 in Sibulan, Negros Oriental

Died July 2, 2003 in Bacolod City

Parents: Ignacio Fortich and Rosalla Yapsutco

August 20: Musical Journey with Heroes


The first Musical Journey with Heroes event will happen on August 20, 7-10 PM at the Auditorium of the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation EDSA corner Quezon Avenue and will feature acoustic performances from LAPIS musician-composers Chickoy Pura, Jana Garcia, Ada Marie Tayao, Dedong Marcelino, Karl Ramirez at ang Pordalab, and more.

This is a collaborative series of music events initiated by the League of Authors of Public Interest Songs - LAPIS and the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation. Through a coming together of composers and musicians - from luminaries of protest music in the Philippines to the new generation of singer-songwriters, we aim to celebrate the lives of those who fought tyranny and dictatorship as we continue to educate more people, especially the Filipino youth, why we must #NeverForget.

Amidst the planned burial of the late dictator at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, this initiative is in solidarity with the groups, communities, families, and individuals who protest the burial and assert that #MarcosIsNotAHero.

Join us on August 20, 2016, 7-10PM at the Bantayog Auditorium, Bantayog complex, the first in a series, as we fill the night with music celebrating real Filipino heroes who stood up for freedom and democracy.

Heroes Don’t Steal or Kill

(Originally posted  at the Inquirer: Heroes don't steal or kill and written by Tarra Quismundo. Photo from ABS-CBN.)

WHERE the nation built monuments to its heroes, hundreds of Filipinos gathered in stormy weather on Sunday to protest President Duterte’s plan to honor the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos with a state burial.

More than a thousand survivors of martial law, human rights activists, legislators, artists, clergy, students and ordinary citizens held a three-hour program at the foot of the Lapu-Lapu monument at Rizal Park in Manila and urged
Mr. Duterte to reconsider his plan to move Marcos’ remains from his hometown in Ilocos Norte province to Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City next month.

“We would be the laughingstock of the entire planet,” said Sen. Risa Hontiveros, one of the legislators who took part in the “citizens’ assembly.”

She called Marcos an “unrepentant enemy of our heroes.”

Marcos’ family has kept his preserved body on display in a mausoleum in Batac, his hometown in Ilocos Norte, after his death in exile in Hawaii in 1989, demanding that it be buried with full honors at Libingan ng mga Bayani despite a 1992 agreement with the government that bars his burial at the heroes’ cemetery.

Marcos, who was elected President in 1965, declared martial law in 1972, allowing him to rule as a dictator while he, his family and allies enriched themselves through massive corruption and his troops brutally stamped out dissent.

He was toppled from power in the Edsa People Power Revolution in February 1986 and was succeeded in office by President Corazon Aquino, who refused to allow the return of his body to the Philippines.

1992 agreement

The succeeding administration of President Fidel V. Ramos, however, allowed the body’s return after the Marcos family agreed in 1992 to fly it straight to Ilocos Norte where it would be buried with honors befitting a major in the military, not to parade it in Metro Manila, and never to transfer it to Libingan ng mga Bayani.
That agreement had been unknown to the public until last week, when opponents of Mr. Duterte’s plan disclosed it and Ramos, through his adviser Rafael Alunan, one of the signatories to the deal, confirmed its existence and said it remained binding.

The administrations of Presidents Joseph Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Benigno Aquino III had refused to allow the transfer of Marcos’ remains to Libingan.

But Mr. Duterte, a friend of the Marcos family, decided to allow the transfer, saying Marcos deserved to be honored as a soldier and President, regardless of his misdeeds.

Survivors of martial law atrocities denounced the plan as a travesty and betrayal of history.

“Burying Marcos at Libingan ng mga Bayani would be rewarding deceit, greed and crimes against humanity. Its message would be that dictatorship is OK. It would give the wrong signal to the young,” former Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello said during the protest at Rizal Park on Sunday.

Heroes die for democracy

“Instead of healing the country, it would perpetuate dissension and division. It would subject the country to international ridicule, [as] it would be seen as an act akin to burying Al Capone at Arlington Cemetery,” he added.
Acclaimed film director Joel Lamangan could not help spewing expletives as he denounced Mr. Duterte’s decision.
“Heroes do not steal, do not kill. They are not shameless and do not betray the country,” he said in Filipino. “Heroes are those who die fighting for democracy without demanding recognition, those who die in the mountains, the minorities who die to defend our freedom.”

“Let’s stop this plan. Let’s all wake up,” he added, noting that the Marcos family had managed to keep “fooling” the nation, with the dictator’s son and namesake, ex-Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., nearly winning the vice presidential race in May’s national elections.

Lamangan said the dictator should be buried at “Libingan ng mga Taksil sa Bayan,” not at a graveyard for heroes.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, among the legislators opposed to Marcos’ burial at Libingan, vowed to fight Mr. Duterte’s plan all the way to the Supreme Court.

“Through rain or storm, we will continue mass actions, not just in Metro Manila but [throughout] the country so that Marcos’ burial [at Libingan ng mga Bayani] will not push through,” said Lagman, whose brother Hermon, a human rights lawyer, was killed during martial law and whose body was never found.

“We will do that with a petition [to] the Supreme Court to throw out the plan. [The rules say] only deserving soldiers and Presidents should be buried at Libingan—those who gave the people inspiration and [served as models for them to emulate],” Lagman said.

A group of martial law detainees said during the weekend it would challenge Mr. Duterte’s decision in the Supreme Court this week.

Memory of a monster

Sen. Leila de Lima, a former chief of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), said burying Marcos at Libingan would be tantamount to “erasing the memory of the monster that was the Marcos regime.”
“This burial is not for Marcos. This is our burial. We will be the ones buried, along with the history of our fight against dictators and butchers. We will be buried under the ground, just like how the dictatorship buried thousands of victims of martial law,” De Lima said.

She said allowing the burial of Marcos at Libingan would be like “killing the remaining strength of the Filipino to stand up against the return of dictatorship.”

Former Sen. Wigberto Tañada said Marcos was “not a hero.”

“What are we still debating here? This is an insult,” he said.

Former CHR Chair Loretta Ann Rosales, who was imprisoned and tortured during martial law, called Marcos a “thief, criminal and traitor,” and said he should not be buried in hallowed ground.

“We will not allow that. We will not let the youth be blinded from the truth,” she said.

Protests against Mr. Duterte’s plan were also held in other parts of the country, including his hometown, Davao City.

Keep it in Batac

Chanting “Galing sa Batac, ibalik sa Batac,” a reference to Marcos’ hometown in Ilocos Norte, survivors of martial law gathered in front of San Pedro Church in Davao City, urging Mr. Duterte in an open letter to drop his plan and instead ensure that the dictator’s remains stay in Batac, where he is loved and honored by the Ilocanos.
In Cebu City, about 50 people from various organizations converged on Plaza Independencia to oppose Mr. Duterte’s plan.

Teody Navea, coordinator for the group Sanlakas, said the protest was just the start of a series of activities planned to fight the President’s decision to allow the burial of Marcos at Libingan. (With reports from Germelina Lacorte, Inquirer Mindanao; Michelle Padayhag, Inquirer Visayas; and AFP)

War Veterans Oppose Marcos Burial at Libingan

A Los Angeles-based organization of Filipino WW II war veterans added its voice opposing to the burial of Philippine President Marcos in the country’s national heroes cemetery.

In a press release, the group Justice for Filipino American Veterans (JFAV) said that Marcos was a fake hero. “He does not deserve to be honored as a hero and buried in the heroes’ cemetery.” JFAV has at least 30 allied organizations in the US.

The US Veterans Administration recently released its findings that Marcos had manufactured his own military medals.

The JFAV, headed by Arturo Garcia, issued the statement as various social groups in the Philippines have created a Citizen’s Assembly on Sunday August 14, to protest the burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani on September 18, 2016.

Garcia criticized newly elected Pres. Rodrigo Duterte for having allowed his burial at the heroes’ cemetery. “Duterte insults the 250,000 Filipino American veterans who fought for democracy during World War II and the 73,000 victims of human rights violations during martial law, which includes his own mother,” he said.

Duterte, a close friend of the Marcoses, is bent on making true his promises to the late president’s family as a way for the country to heal. He called those who opposed his plan as “yellow oppositionists” who are identified with his predecessor, Pres. Benigno Aquino Jr.

“Duterte is a Marcos loyalist. He is not healing the nation, he is dividing the nation by siding with the dictator. We will never accept that Marcos was a hero,” Garcia said.

Those who concur with Pres. Duterte said that it was no big deal for Pres. Marcos to be buried in the heroes’ cemetery because there had been Filipino leaders who were guilty of treason and betrayal and were buried in the said cemetery. Others said it was better for Marcos to be buried in his home province in Ilocos Norte.

“Let him be buried in his birthplace, where he wished to be buried. The Marcoses are such power players and ego-trippers,” said a teacher in a rally at the Citizen’s Assembly in Manila.

The remains of the late Pres. Marcos is currently preserved in a refrigerated glass crypt inside his family mausoleum in Batac.

In Anti-Marcos Burial Rally, Martial Law Tales Come Alive

Not A Hero (Burial)

Of the hundreds that gathered to oppose the burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, a sizeable number at the Luneta on Sunday, August 14, were old enough to have lived through martial law. Members of religious groups, non-governmental organizations, as well as civilians stood in the crowd amid an on-and-off downpour, rallying against what they deemed a betrayal of history.

(This article was originally posted at Rappler by Janelle Paris. She is a student from the Ateneo de Manila University and a Rappler intern.)

Away from the center of it all was Ping Martija, 76, holding up a placard that read, “Ilibing na lang sa La Loma ang diktador! Dating pangulo Ferdinand Marcos (Bury the dictator, former president Ferdinand Marcos, in La Loma instead).”

La Loma Cemetery, located in Caloocan City, is where some notable Filipino figures like Josefa Llanes Escoda and Victorino Mapa are buried.

Martija is a member of the non-violent organization Aksyon sa Kapayapaan at Katarungan (AKapKa). The group fought against the dictatorship through nonviolent means.

“Kaya nandito ako [ay dahil] buong puso kong sinusuportahan ang pagkakaisa laban sa paglibing [kay Marcos] sa Libingan ng mga Bayani. Hindi siya karapat-dapat…hindi naman siya tunay na bayani,” Martija said.

(I am here to wholeheartedly oppose the burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. He is not deserving…he is no hero.)

Martija hails from San Miguel, Leyte, the home province of former first lady and now Congresswoman Imelda Marcos. Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr won big in the province in the 2016 vice presidential race, claiming 49.5% of the votes.

“[K]ababayan ko si Imelda…subali't hindi ako sumusuporta sa kanya dahil lumalaban ako [para sa] kalayaan ng mamamayan. Noong panahon na ‘yon, walang demokrasya,” Martija said.

(Imelda Marcos and I come from the same province, but I do not support her because I am fighting for the freedom of my countrymen. At the time, there was no democracy.)

He said he fears we might lose democracy again. It will start, he said, by burying the dictator and recognizing him as a hero. “Papaano naging bayani si Marcos? Noong panahon niya, walang puwedeng magsalita laban sa kanya; aakusahan ka na NPA [New People's Army] at dudukutin ka.”

(How could Marcos be a hero? In his time, no one could speak against him; you would be accused of being an NPA and would be abducted if you were.)

He also shared his dismay at how the martial law years is taught in schools. He said it is erroneous to downplay the Marcos dictatorship. The Department of Education promised in early 2016 to address this matter in the K-12 program. (READ: DepEd: K to 12 curriculum allows in-depth discussion on martial law)

“Nakakalungkot. Kailan natin makakamtan ang tunay na kalayaan (It's very sad. When will we attain true freedom)?” Martija asked.

‘False ending’

“I was somewhere in Metro Manila, being sad because I knew that it was a false ending,” Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation trustee Carolina “Bobbie” Malay, 76, said of her whereabouts during the EDSA People Power Revolution of 1986.

Malay was part of the communist resistance during martial law, and remained underground for almost two decades until her arrest, along with husband Satur Ocampo, whom she wed in revolutionary rites.

Satur co-founded the National Democratic Front (NDF), which represented the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA), while underground.

Both he and Malay were part of the NDF’s negotiating panel during peace talks with the government of Corazon Aquino. They would again be arrested in 1992 after the collapse of negotiations between the government and the Left.

While underground, Malay wrote for Taliba ng Bayan, an alternative newspaper published by the NDF from 1972 until the early 1980s, during the dictatorship. Before that, she wrote for The Manila Times and Evening News.

“What I joined the movement for was to have change in society. Marcos was a big part of what we were fighting, but it was not the entire thing. I was aware of the injustice and the poverty, the unequal distribution of privilege and power…and I wanted to be part of changing that,” Malay said.

While she thought the fall of the dictatorship at EDSA was a “job [that] was not yet done,” she said she still felt nostalgic for people power, witnessing the assembly at Luneta on Sunday.

“I think many of the people who are here (in Luneta) today were part of that (EDSA) – a very significant part of it has remained in our hearts, in our minds. [It is] very encouraging to see that the fight continues, [that the] people are ready to rise to the occasion,” Malay said.

In the dark

Rose Hidalgo remembers caring for her newborn child in the dark. “Nanganak ako noong September 19, 1972…noong 21 nag-blackout (I gave birth on September 19, 1972…on the 21st there was a blackout),” she recalled.

“Talagang dark era [noon] (It was truly a dark era),” Hidalgo said. Her child would spend the first few days of life in a dark hospital ward, at the dawn of martial law; it was a portent of things to come.

“Masama ang loob ko na maraming kabataan ang nagsasabing kalimutan na lang [ang nangyari noon] (It pains me that many young people today say that we should just forget what happened before),” she added.

She made it a point to always tell her children about the wrongs of the Marcos regime as they were growing up.

Hidalgo came to Luneta with her husband Fred to relive the two EDSAs they took part in. “[Kapag nailibing si Marcos sa Libingan ng mga Bayani], parang mababale-wala ang pagsali namin sa EDSA,” she said. (If Marcos ends up being buried a hero, EDSA will have been for naught.)

For Martija, Malay, and Hidalgo, the fight does not end at the Luneta. They are only 3 among the thousands of Filipinos who lived to tell their tales about the martial law regime. More stories remain undocumented and untold to this day.

Filipinos Protest Hero's Burial for Marcos

guardian pic

Hundreds of people in the Philippines rallied in stormy weather to protest after the country’s president, Rodrigo Duterte, approved the burial of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos in a heroes’ cemetery.

(Article and photo from The Guardian / Photographed by Bullit Marquez)

Police said about 1,500 protesters carrying a large streamer that read “Marcos not a hero” braved the rains, wind and mud at the seaside Rizal park, in Manila, on Sunday to call on Duterte to reconsider his decision. They launched a signature campaign to try to stop the burial, which is set for September.

Loretta Ann Rosales, who formerly headed the government’s commission on human rights, said she was tortured, electrocuted and molested with thousands of other detained leftwing activists under Marcos during a period in Philippine history that clearly showed why the leader, who died in 1989, did not deserve to be accorded state honours.

“Is that not enough evidence? ... Is Marcos a hero?” Rosales asked. The crowd responded: “No!”

Risa Hontiveros, who joined the protest, said she had filed a senate resolution opposing a hero’s burial for Marcos, adding that Duterte should not commit the “atrocious mistake” of bestowing honours upon the former dictator. “Marcos went down in history as an unrepentant enemy of our heroes,” Hontiveros said. “To honour the man [as] a hero and bury his remains in a place reserved for the brave and martyred is an inimical political abomination.”

Using the heroes’ cemetery to bury a dictator accused of massive rights violations and plunder has been an emotional and divisive issue in the country, where Marcos was ousted by a “people power” revolt in 1986.

Marcos fled to Hawaii, where he lived with his wife and children in exile until he died, in Honolulu, three years later. His remains were returned to his north-Philippines hometown and displayed in a glass coffin. His wife, Imelda, and two of three children gradually regained political influence after being elected to public office.

Duterte, who was sworn in as president in June, argues that Marcos is qualified to be buried at the military-run cemetery as a former soldier and president. He revealed he once voted for Marcos and that his late father, a politician, served in Marcos’s cabinet.

Duterte’s communications secretary, Martin Andanar, said on Sunday the president’s position remained firm, arguing that military rules allowed Marcos to be buried at the hallowed cemetery as a former president and soldier.

Selda, an organisation of former political detainees and rights victims under Marcos, said in a statement that it planned to ask the supreme court to stop what it called a grave injustice to thousands of human rights victims.

Communist guerrillas, who are due to restart peace talks with Duterte’s government this month, condemned the president’s move for its “extreme insensitivity”.

In a statement, they said: “Duterte is virtually deleting Marcos’ bloody record as a military despot and the fascist violence, human rights violation, corruption and economic hardships he made the Filipino people suffer through 14 years of dictatorship.”

SIN, Jaime Cardinal

Sin Jaime Cardinal

Jaime Sin was ordained a priest in 1954, and started out as a missionary in Capiz. He then served as seminary rector in Roxas City before he was appointed bishop of Jaro in Iloilo in 1967. He was appointed Jaro’s coadjutor archbishop in 1972, and took full control as archbishop of Jaro later that year.

When he learned he was being considered to become Manila’s archbishop, Jaime Sin demurred, saying he never had a university education, all his studies having been completed in seminaries, he did not speak Tagalog, the language of the people of Manila and its environs, and that he was content to serve in Jaro. Nevertheless he became Manila’s archbishop in 1974, and two years later its cardinal, in which roles he would leave a unique mark in the movement to oppose the Marcos dictatorship. Until then he had been an unheard-of bishop from the Visayas.

One of Sin’s first acts as Manila archbishop was to issue a pastoral letter condemning the summary arrest of priests Jose Blanco and Benigno Mayo, both of the Society of Jesus, who were arrested in a raid on the Sacred Heart Novitiate in Novaliches. Sin presided over a prayer vigil for the detailed priests attended by 5,000 persons, the largest anti-martial law protest at that time.

Pope Paul VI made Sin a cardinal in 1976, succeeding then Rufino Cardinal Santos. Sin became the youngest member of the Vatican’s College of Cardinals. Later he served as vice-president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines in 1974, was elected president in January 1977, and reelected president in July 1979.

Cardinal Sin soon became one of Asia’s most prominent religious leaders, known for his vocal stances on politics, economics and church concerns. He was courted and schmoozed over by the Marcoses. He set out to disarm the faithful, winning them over with jokes he cracked usually at his own expense.

Under his watch the Catholic Church became one of the few institutions where critics and opponents, human rights victims, and even rebels found shelter from the forces of the state. Because of his prominence, he commanded resources and exercised influence strong enough to counterbalance Marcos’ tremendous power.

He chose to wield this power when he issued a historic call for people to come to the aid of soldiers that had rebelled against Marcos and were holed up in Camp Aguinaldo. Thousands responded to this call, which grew into the movement that toppled the 14-year dictatorship.

Sin retired in 2003 when he turned 75, having served as priest for 29 years. He died of natural causes two years later. At his funeral, he was accorded full military honors and a 21-gun salute, the first time a clergyman was given the honor.


Born 31 August 1928 in New Washington, Aklan.

Died 21 June 2005 in Manila

Parents : Sin Puat Co (Juan) from Xiamen, China, and Maxima Lachica of Aklan,

Education : Grade school - New Washington, Aklan

Theological studies, St. Vincent Ferrer Archdiocesan Seminary, Iloilo

29 honorary degrees from different universities all over the wor

Fast Facts: Libingan Ng Mga Bayani

(This is a re-post of Rappler's Fast Facts on the  Libingan ng mga Bayani, text and photos attributed to Rappler)

Libingan ng mga Bayani was initially known as Republic Memorial Cemetery

Established in 1947, Libingan ng mga Bayani was first known as the Republic Memorial Cemetery. It was established by the Philippine government to commemorate the lives of the fallen Filipino soldiers who fought in World War II.

Its existence was in accordance with Republic Act 289, which provides for “the construction of a national pantheon for presidents of the Philippines, national heroes, and patriots of the country.”

The law, signed by President Elpidio Quirino, states that the cemetery is supposed to commemorate the presidents, national heroes, and patriots, “for the inspiration and emulation of this generation and of generations still unborn.”

The initial construction was given a funding of at least P1 million.

In 1954, then president Ramon Magsaysay “rededicated and renamed” the cemetery into what it is now known: Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Marcos, through Proclamation Number 208 in 1967, reserved 142 hectares from the Fort Bonifacio Military Reserve for the future expansion of the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Dishonorably discharged, convicted personnel cannot be buried

Much has been said regarding individuals who can be buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

According to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), which holds and oversees the property, there are specific guidelines that state who exactly can be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Based on the The Allocation of Cemetery Plots at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, the following can be interred at the cemetery:

  • Medal of Valor awardees

  • Presidents or commander-in-chief, AFP

  • Secretaries of national defense

  • AFP chiefs of staff

  • Generals/flag officers of the AFP

  • Active and retired military personnel of the AFP (including active draftees and trainees who died in line of duty, and active reservists and CAFGU Active Auxiliary who died in combat-related activities)

  • Former members of the AFP who laterally entered or joined the Philippine Coast Guard and the Philippine National Police

  • Veterans of Philippine Revolution of 1890, World War I, World War II, and recognized guerrillas

  • Government dignitaries, statesmen, national artists and other deceased persons whose interment and re-interment has been approved by the commander-in-chief, Congress, or the secretary of national defense

  • Former presidents, secretaries of defense, dignitaries, statesmen, national artists, widows of former presidents, secretaries of national defense, and chief of staff

Worth noting is AFP Regulations G 161-375, which says the prohibition of interment applies to “those who have been dishonorably discharged from service or personnel convicted of an offense involving moral turpitude.”

Executive Order No. 131, signed by then president Fidel V. Ramos in 1993, allowed for state burial and funeral of national artists and scientists of the Philippines.

Final resting place of more than 49,000 Filipinos

The 103-hectare cemetery, located in Taguig City, currently houses the remains of more than 49,000 Filipino soldiers, statesmen, heroes, and martyrs.

A specific number of grave sites is also allocated to individuals who are qualified to be buried in the cemetery.

According to the AFP, the allocations for each position are as follows:

  • 46 allocated grave sites for presidents

  • 94 plots for secretaries of national defense, government dignitaries, and statesmen

  • 133 for the AFP chiefs of staff

  • 118 for Medal of Valor awardees

  • 183 for other generals and flag officers

  • 5,334 for World War II veterans

  • 1,375 for national artists and scientists

The remaining grave sites, meanwhile, are designated for retired AFP personnel and veterans.

Memorials inside Libingan ng mga Bayani

Scattered across the vast land are several memorials for individuals who fought in the wars the Philippines fought.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, considered as one of the main structures, can be found at the center of the cemetery bearing the inscription: “Here lies a Filipino soldier whose name is known only to God.”

The memorial, which features 3 pillars representing the 3 island groups in the Philippines, is often the place where government officials conduct wreath-laying ceremonies.

The Korean Memorial Pylon, meanwhile, serves as a tribute to the fallen members of the Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea (Peftok) during the Korean War.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Pylon is dedicated to Filipinos who served during the Vietnam War as part of the Philippine contingents and Philippine civic action groups.

Erected by the Veterans Federation of the Philippines, the Philippine World War II Guerrillas Pylon serves as “a testimony to the indomitable spirit and bravery of the Filipino guerrillas of World War II who refused to be cowed into submission and carried on the fight for freedom against an enemy with vastly superior arms and under almost insurmountable odds.”

The Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial, meanwhile, was erected in 1977 in memory of those who served during World War II.

Lastly, the Black Stone Walls erected near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier bear the words of General Douglas MacArthur: "I do not know the dignity of his birth, but I do know the glory of his death.”

ORDOŇEZ, Sedfrey A.

Ordonez Sedfrey copy

Sedfrey Ordonez was raised in rural Nueva Ecija by parents of modest means. He studied in public schools, doing farm work and small jobs to help in the family's finances. His friends were children of farmers and his early teachers his parents and neighbor farmers. His father owned a homestead, and the young Sedfrey's days were filled with hunting, fishing, swimming, with school a long way down in the list of his youthful priorities.

He studied liberal arts at the University of the Philippines in Manila, then law at the Far Eastern University and Manuel L. Quezon Law School. He worked between classes, including helping out in his cousin's slipper-making shop. He did not complete his law degree, but he was allowed to take the bar and was one of the top ten in his batch of examinees.

He first practised law with famed lawyers Jovito Salonga and Pedro Yap. Then in 1970, he was elected delegate of his home province to the 1971 Constitutional Convention. Sedfrey was among the minority who opposed the manipulation by Ferdinand Marcos of the 1973 Constitution in an attempt to perpetuate himself in power. Sedfrey also opposed the sham ratification of the constitution through citizens' assemblies. Later he defended a fellow member of the Constitutional Convention, Eduardo Quintero, who was harassed by the Marcos government after he (Quintero) revealed that the Marcoses were paying off a significant number of members of the convention. When Marcos imposed martial law in the country and proceeded to arrest his political opponents as well as critics and activists, Sedfrey handled more civil rights cases, including the high-profile case of Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. He also joined such organizations as the Civil Liberties Union (CLU) and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP). Sedfrey became an active member of the IBP's Human Rights and Due Process, and Legal Aid.

He had a short stint in politics when he became an active campaigner for Corazon Aquino during the 1986 snap presidential elections.

In the years immediately after the downfall of the Marcos dictatorship, Sedfrey served the Aquino government as solicitor general, secretary of justice, and permanent representative and ambassador to the United Nations. As solicitor general, the bulk of his time was spent in trying to recover the Marcoses' illegally-gotten wealth.

As a human rights advocate who was at the same time a senior official in the Aquino administration, Sedfrey was very much saddened by the fact that in his time, such atrocities as the Mendiola and Lupao massacres had happened.

Later he served as Chairman of the Commission on Human Rights under the Ramos administration.

Sedfrey was also a prolific writer. He wrote poetry, plays, essays, and his autobiography, titled 50 Years in Law and Letters. He could wax romantic but he also wrote about his everyday business of working in government. In his book Nuclear Poems (1995) he wrote:

"Subic and Clark / have witnessed war / both as battleground /and as launching pad /for their death missions!"

The year before that, inside a hotel in Japan he had written a poem about the famed Mendiola bridge:

"Those who fell and those who rushed the bridge / did not perceive the flow of blood in france / but the bridge united them where they / shed tears and raised clenched fists - they knew Mendiola shall forever / be their country's bridge of liberty!"

On a slow train to Berne in Switzerland, on a mission to recover part of the Marcos illegal wealth in 1986, Sedfrey had written:

"Purse keeper / of the world / from Mafia master / to drug dealer / and royal thief / and dictator / and mer-chantmen / alike, / it offers haven in numbered codes / the launderer of stains / of plunder .... / why can this tiny land / be filled with beauty / and yet hide / the pains / of many?"

Amb. Sedfrey A. Ordonez had lived a full and remark-able life. In private and in public, that life had been varied and interesting, challenging and successful, helpful and rewarding, inspired and inspiring. As a man he was known to be dignified and humble, thoughtful and gracious, creative and productive. He was the Chairman Emeritus of Bantay Katarungan, an NGO for the promotion of the delivery of judicial service (Sentinel of Justice) and an ac-tive Trustee of Bantayog ng mga Bayani and Kilosbayan (People's Action).

Sedfrey A. Ordoliez joined his Creator on November 18, 2007 while in the company of loved ones and friends. He was 86 years old.

In a poem he wrote upon turning 70 in 1991, he ended with these lines:

"Merely simply contemplating the enormity of the tasks ahead urges me to start right now and fill my last ten years with music, with the wisdom, with the daring, with the vision of the Master."


BORN                 1 September 1921

Gapan, Nueva Ecija

DIED                  18 November 2007

PARENTS           Domingo Ordonez and Consolation Andres

SIBLINGS           Socorro, Alfonso, Pacita, Genoveva, Marcelo & Mario WIFE Josef ma Vijandre CHILDREN Roberto, Philip, Cristina &         Helen


Elementary   Laur, Nueva Ecija (accelerated)

Secondary    Nueva Ecija High School, Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija, 1938

College        College of Liberal Arts, UP Manila

College of Law, UP, 1940-41 LL.B., Manuel L. Quezon University, 1947-48 LL.M., Philippine Law School, 1954 Ateneo University

Graduate            School of Business, 1973-74 University of Minnesota, USA

CELESTIAL, Artemio Jr.


Artemio Celestial Jr., or Jun to family and friends, spent his childhood in Cavite where his father was public schools superintendent. He went to the Ateneo in Quezon City for all his schooling years. Jun was outgoing and amiable, and a bright and hardworking student. He taught catechism to poor children.

As in most schools in Manila in the early 1960s, Ateneo was electrified by student activism. Students held hold discussion groups, symposia and other mass actions as issues raged through the campus such as campus repression, violation of civil liberties, militarization, and the impending martial law.

Jun became involved in the Student Catholic Action (SCA) and joined student assemblies marching across the campus, calling on other students to become involved.

In November 1971, leading officers of the Student Council were expelled for their activism. Jun became the council’s secretary-general. The council continued to pursue its militant actions. Jun got other campus groups to join council-sponsored activities. He raised funds and mobilized students to help in flood relief operations in Central Luzon. He even hid in his car students banned from the campus.

After martial law was declared, Jun himself was expelled along with other activists, their pictures posted in the school’s guardhouses. The following year, soldiers raided the Celestial home in Project 4. Jun and younger brother Joel, also an activist, escaped arrest but they had to leave home for some time.

Jun later found a job at the National Grains Authority (NGA) where he worked for two years. He rose to a supervisor’s position. One day, soldiers arrested him and brought him to camp mistaking him for his brother Joel who had gone underground. Jun was released after a few days.

Jun left the government and put up a tailoring business with a friend. Joel was arrested in 1973 and Jun also spent time visiting him in Fort Bonifacio. Many of Jun’s own friends were also in prison. Jun himself continued to help the underground movement.with financial and logistical support.

One day in February 1975, Jun took a cab to somewhere but left a strange letter addressed to Ferdinand Marcos, exhorting the president to free all political prisoners, among other demands. He handed the letter over to a person at a toll gate who then gave it to a passing army soldier. Three days later, Jun’s body was found floating in the Montalban River near the Wawa Dam, his skull and body badly broken. Local police who undertook the investigation believe Jun might have been taken by the army. His family did not pursue the case.

Born 16 September 1950 in Maragondon, Cavite

Died 19 February 1975 in Montalban River

Parents : Artemio Celestial and Marina Somoza

Education : Elementary - Ateneo de Manila, Honorable Mention

Secondary – Ateneo High School

College – Ateneo de Manila University, AB Economics

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