A state funeral like what FVR would have wanted

Everything ran like clockwork as former president Fidel V. Ramos would have wanted it.

Funeral procession of former president Fidel V. Ramos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. (Ali Vicoy/MANILA BULLETIN)

From the seamless transfer of his ashes from his wake at the Heritage Park to the weather breaking out in bright sunlight after days of rain, the State Funeral for the country’s 12th president went without a hitch until Ramos was finally laid to rest at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City, on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022.

At exactly 10:08 a.m., the bronze casket, draped in the national colors and bearing the cremated remains of Ramos, was carried out of the Heritage Park by Army soldiers for the departure honors and the singing of the National Anthem for the late chief executive.

Then came the short trip to the Libingan ng mga Bayani with the casket on a hearse and his widow, former first lady Amelita “Ming” Ramos, riding close behind in a black sedan.

Supporters in white t-shirts and waving white flaglets bearing the image of Ramos, as well as policemen and soldiers with firm salutes, lined the one-kilometer route from Heritage Park to the Libingan ng mga Bayani, many in tears and mumbling their silent farewell to Ramos, who was president from 1992 to 1998.

Ramos passed away last July 31, 2022, at the Makati Medical Center after a bout with Covid-19. He was 94.

Cannons boomed and the national anthem resonated as full military honors—steeped in military traditions and symbolism—were accorded Ramos upon the arrival of his remains at the Heroes Memorial Gate of the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Final resting place of ex-president Fidel Ramos (Ali Vicoy/ MANILA BULLETIN)

The funeral march ensued as the casket was placed on a bier with the officers and men from the major services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) leading the way while a military helicopter flew over the procession, raining down flower petals throughout the route.

His family, wearing white with black armbands, followed the procession. One of Ramos’ family members was seen holding his portrait.

Upon the arrival of Ramos' remains at “Section A Presidents of the Republic of the Philippines”, the former first lady was escorted to her seat as her husband’s urn was taken out of the casket, and given to a family member.

The urn was carried by a granddaughter of the former president while escorted by a honor guard holding a folded Philippine flag.

The final benediction was offered by the AFP’s chief chaplain and the choir sang a hymn of praise as the urn sat atop a table adorned with white flowers.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. arrived quietly for the inurnment ceremony, and stood beside the former first lady as he watched his distant uncle being laid to rest.. Ramos' 100 square-meter plot is located beside the burial sites of former president Ferdinand Marcos Sr., and former president Elpidio Quirino.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. attends the funeral rites for former president Fidel Ramos. (Ali Vicoy/MANILA BULLETIN)

Before the last bugle call, or “taps,” was played, a final salute was rendered by Marcos as a 21-gun salute boomed in the background, and flower petals rained once more from a military helicopter. Military planes also roared past the burial site, razing the skies to honor a former Armed Forces Chief of Staff.

And after the Katipunero marching song “Alerta Filipinas” and the Constancio De Guzman song “Maalala Mo Kaya” were played, Marcos presented Mrs. Ramos, who turned emotional, the Philippine flag, symbolic of the sentiments of a grateful nation.

The tomb was sealed at exactly 11:43 a.m., a white slab and a simple cross marking the grave of one of the country’s most beloved leaders, shortly after a brief offering of flowers by Ramos’ relatives, former associates, friends, and supporters. Significantly, the completion of his funeral rites was well under the 12 noon scheduled inurnment of Ramos, a development which the time-conscious former leader would have appreciated.

“Maraming salamat sa inyong lahat sa tulong ninyo. Alam niyo mahirap ang buhay sa military pero kinaya namin (Thank you very much to you all. You know life in the military is hard but we survived it). He was able to raise five daughters, eight grandsons, and five granddaughters,” Mrs. Ramos said.

Ramos brandished a bigger-than-life persona, from being a member of the Philippine Expeditionary Forces in Korea (PEFTOK) to serving as a non-combat engineer during the Vietnam War. He later became chief of the Philippine Constabulary in the mid-1970s.

And perhaps, in the most controversial move of his life, he called for the ouster of the Marcos administration, and joined former president and democracy icon Corazon Aquino during the bloodless People Power revolt in 1986. He was elected as the country’s 12th president, serving from 1992 to 1998.

The tobacco-chomping Ramos was also best remembered for his iconic jump for victory which he did after learning that the Marcos family had already fled Malacanang Palace at the height of the ESDA People Power Revolution.

Ramos’ state funeral was the first the country had seen since 1997 when former president Diosdado Macapagal passed away. This highest honor is given only to former presidents, former vice presidents, current Senate presidents, National Artists, and National Scientists.

The Libingan ng mga Bayani houses not only past presidents, but also acts as memorial grounds for Marawi Siege soldiers, Vietnam War veterans, Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Pylon, and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.