Palanca Awards 2008 winner Miguel Syjuco harassed at the LNMB

Stealing public spaces isn’t something to be taken lightly, just ask Miguel Syjuco

Yesterday, Palanca Awards 2008 winner Miguel Syjuco took his Filipino-Canadian relatives to the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani to teach them about Philippine History and the cemetery which is a public space open to everyone, turned out to be not-so-public these days when the Palanca awardee was questioned by security forces surrounding the cemetery during their visit.

Syjuco was not going to take this matter sitting down and thus he posted on Instagram a lengthy narrative of the harassment he had to endure while taking his relatives from abroad to LNMB.

Harassed at the Philippine Cemetery of Heroes! This is PFC Daga, one of the many unfortunate guards under strict orders to shadow visitors to Libingan ng mga Bayani. Yesterday, I brought my nephew and niece visiting from Canada to see our Heroes' Cemetery, to share our history with young Filipinos who don't yet know it. We were questioned at the gate, we were surrounded by armed soldiers at the tomb of Artemio Ricarte, we were barred from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, we were prevented from visiting the other presidents' graves, we were moved along at Max Soliven's monument, and followed closely at the graves of the National Artists and Scientists and not allowed to take photos there (even at the graves of my teacher NVM Gonzalez, and my nephew's great-granduncle Anding Roces), and we were grilled at the Monument to Guerrila Fighters — all of which are separate and even far from where they're preparing the monument to the despot Ferdinand Marcos. My nephew and niece weren't even allowed to take artistic shots of areas on the other end of the cemetery and were asked to delete their memory cards. If not for us visiting the grave of my grand-uncle General Jose Syjuco (who led the tribunal that sentenced Ninoy Aquino), we would've been prevented from entering this public space for all Filipinos. If not for my father being a congressman (and cabinet minister under Arroyo), the guards would've detained us for questioning, as they kept trying to. (It's terrible that only dubious privilege can ensure us our rights; so other less-connected Filipinos would've been turned away or detained?!) Another thing the fucking Marcoses are stealing from us — access to our public spaces, national heritage, and the very history of those who can show the next generation of Filipinos what true sacrifice looks like. As we left, a Filipino-Canadian in our small group commented: "So this is what a dictatorship looks like!" #fuckthemarcoses #neveragain #notomarcosburialinlnmb #bawatbato #libinganngmgabayani #heroescemetery

A post shared by Miguel Syjuco (@syjuco) on

The caption of the Instagram post reads:

Harassed at the Philippine Cemetery of Heroes! This is PFC Daga, one of the many unfortunate guards under strict orders to shadow visitors to Libingan ng mga Bayani. Yesterday, I brought my nephew and niece visiting from Canada to see our Heroes’ Cemetery, to share our history with young Filipinos who don’t yet know it. We were questioned at the gate, we were surrounded by armed soldiers at the tomb of Artemio Ricarte, we were barred from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, we were prevented from visiting the other presidents’ graves, we were moved along at Max Soliven’s monument, and followed closely at the graves of the National Artists and Scientists and not allowed to take photos there (even at the graves of my teacher NVM Gonzalez, and my nephew’s great-granduncle Anding Roces), and we were grilled at the Monument to Guerrila Fighters — all of which are separate and even far from where they’re preparing the monument to the despot Ferdinand Marcos. My nephew and niece weren’t even allowed to take artistic shots of areas on the other end of the cemetery and were asked to delete their memory cards.
If not for us visiting the grave of my grand-uncle General Jose Syjuco (who led the tribunal that sentenced Ninoy Aquino), we would’ve been prevented from entering this public space for all Filipinos. If not for my father being a congressman (and cabinet minister under Arroyo), the guards would’ve detained us for questioning, as they kept trying to. (It’s terrible that only dubious privilege can ensure us our rights; so other less-connected Filipinos would’ve been turned away or detained?!) Another thing the fucking Marcoses are stealing from us — access to our public spaces, national heritage, and the very history of those who can show the next generation of Filipinos what true sacrifice looks like. As we left, a Filipino-Canadian in our small group commented: “So this is what a dictatorship looks like!”#fuckthemarcoses #neveragain#notomarcosburialinlnmb #bawatbato#libinganngmgabayani #heroescemetery

In addition to that, Syjuco noticed that security has been unusually heightened at the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani – an incident which he explains in the Instagram post following the one where he reported being harassed by security officers of the cemetery

This is what the the Philippine Cemetery of Heroes now looks like — walls and military guarding the entire block where our presidents are buried. In that public space containing the shared heritage of all Filipinos, the Duterte government has ordered the army to bar access and harass even visitors with relatives there, even far from the construction site where the despot Ferdinand Marcos will be given a heroes' burial. Armed guards, military trucks, harassing of children who wanted only to take photos of National Artists' graves. We didn't even go near Marcos's grave, which was walled up high anyway. And our visit was sincerely to teach our long and proud Filipino history to balikbayans. But it became yet another incident showing the Duterte government's strongarm methods and shameless allegiance with a dictators' dynasty. Yes, here is the creeping shadow of dictatorship. And these pictures here show the preparations for the plundering despot's gravesite, in the best spot in the cemetery, in its very middle and on the main entry thoroughfare, beneath the flag at half mast and beside the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier — the most sacred memorial to all Filipinos lost who gave their country the supreme sacrifice. Fuck you, Marcoses, I'm telling the world all about you. Writers like me will always have the last word. #fuckthemarcoses #neveragain #notomarcosinthelnmb #bawatbato #heroescemetery #libinganngmgabayani #notomarcosburialinlnmb #ferdinandmarcos #dictatorship

A post shared by Miguel Syjuco (@syjuco) on

This is what the the Philippine Cemetery of Heroes now looks like — walls and military guarding the entire block where our presidents are buried. In that public space containing the shared heritage of all Filipinos, the Duterte government has ordered the army to bar access and harass even visitors with relatives there, even far from the construction site where the despot Ferdinand Marcos will be given a heroes’ burial. Armed guards, military trucks, harassing of children who wanted only to take photos of National Artists’ graves. We didn’t even go near Marcos’s grave, which was walled up high anyway. And our visit was sincerely to teach our long and proud Filipino history to balikbayans. But it became yet another incident showing the Duterte government’s strongarm methods and shameless allegiance with a dictators’ dynasty. Yes, here is the creeping shadow of dictatorship. And these pictures here show the preparations for the plundering despot’s gravesite, in the best spot in the cemetery, in its very middle and on the main entry thoroughfare, beneath the flag at half mast and beside the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier — the most sacred memorial to all Filipinos lost who gave their country the supreme sacrifice. Fuck you, Marcoses, I’m telling the world all about you. Writers like me will always have the last word.

#fuckthemarcoses #neveragain#notomarcosinthelnmb #bawatbato#heroescemetery #libinganngmgabayani#notomarcosburialinlnmb#ferdinandmarcos #dictatorship

The fact that the government had to put that much security on LNMB to make sure that the Marcos burial site does not get defaced only shows that the threat is real that their plans of burying Marcos will be foiled – and in that case, it only means we’re doing our job right in stopping Marcos from being buried there.

They have noticed and now they are desperate to stop us but as long as there are millions of eyes watching our government, they should really be thinking twice before pulling these kinds of stunts because it will cost them greatly.

The very same people who entrusted them with power will be very willing to take the power away from them, just ask these Duterte supporters who have been appealing to our President not to bury Marcos in LNMB.

As for Miguel Syjuco, hats off to him for exposing the truth behind the preparations being done for the Marcos burial at the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani set to happen this September. We, the taxpayers deserve to know the full truth about this and where our government fails to provide, Miguel Syjuco fills in.

What do you think of the heightened security measures applied at the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani? Is it worth it or should our government just calm down about it?

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