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Libingan ng mga Bayani
National Military Cemetery
|Used for those deceased|
|Established||May 1947 (as Republic Memorial Cemetery)|
Bayani Road, Taguig City, Philippines
Heroes' Cemetery, also officially known as Libingan ng mga Bayani in Filipino, is a Philippine national cemetery within Fort Bonifacio (formerly Fort William McKinley) in Western Bicutan, Taguig City, Metro Manila, Philippines.
First established in May 1947 as a fitting resting place for Filipino military personnel from privates to generals who served during World War II, it eventually became designated as the official place of burial for deceased Philippine Presidents, national heroes, patriots, National Artists and National Scientists.
Among those buried in the cemetery are Filipino soldiers who died during the Philippine Campaign and the Allied Liberation of the Philippines in World War II from 1941 to 1945. Among the Filipino leaders and dignitaries buried there are Presidents Elpidio Quirino, Carlos P. Garcia and Diosdado Macapagal; former Vice-president Salvador H. Laurel; generals Artemio Ricarte and Carlos P. Romulo; Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Angelo Reyes; and senators Arturo Tolentino and Blas Ople.
The Heroes' Cemetery was first established in May 1947 as the Republic Memorial Cemetery. It was first established as a tribute and final resting place for the 33,520 Filipino soldiers who died during the Philippine Campaign (1941–42) and the Allied Liberation of the Philippines (1944-45) in World War II. It was established as the Filipino counterpart to the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, which houses the remains of United States personnel who died during the same war.
On 16 June 1948, Philippine President Elpidio Quirino signed into law the Republic Act 289, also known as An Act Providing for the Construction of a National Pantheon for Presidents of the Philippines, National Heroes, and Patriots of the Country. Section 1 of the Act cites the purpose of creating such pantheon:
"To perpetuate the memory of all the Presidents of the Philippines, national heroes and patriots for the inspiration and emulation of this generation and of generations still unborn..."
While such National Pantheon was never established during Quirino's lifetime, several decrees and laws passed under succeeding administrations led to the eventual use of the Republic Memorial Cemetery as a national pantheon described in Republic Act 289.
On 27 October 1954, President Ramon Magsaysay renamed the Republic Memorial Cemetery as the Libingan ng mga Bayani. On 28 May 1967, President Ferdinand Marcos issued Presidential Proclamation No. 208 ordering the reservation of 142 hectares of land within Fort Bonifacio in consideration for the Libingan to serve not only as a cemetery for military personnel but also as a national shrine for fallen heroes. He ordered it placed under the administration of the Military Shrines Services of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office, an agency under the Department of National Defense.
On 9 April 1986, Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Fidel Ramos and President Corazon Aquino issued Armed Forces Regulations G 161-373, also known as "The allocation of Cemetery Plots at the LNMB". This military-issued regulation established the internment policy that would become the basis for the burial of personalities at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Moreover, by virtue of Executive Order No. 131 issued by former President Fidel Ramos on 26 October 1993, National Artists and National Scientists of the Philippines were also made eligible for interment at the cemetery.
In 2007, due to overcrowding at the Fort Bonifacio site, the cemetery's administration started exploring sites for Libingan ng mga Bayani annexes in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Only one has been completed so far, the ₱24-million, five-hectare extension at Camp Hernandez in Dingle, Iloilo.
The Heroes' Cemetery is administered and maintained by the Grave Service Unit (GSU), a unit of the Philippine Army Support Command of the AFP. Its mission is to provide burial and niche services to deceased military personnel and other personalities interred at the cemetery. Aside from maintaining the Heroes' Cemetery and the military grave site at Manila North Cemetery, the unit is also capable of providing mortuary and memorial services to authorized personnel.
- Medal of Valor awardees
- Presidents or Commanders-in-Chief, AFP
- The secretaries of National Defense
- AFP Chiefs of Staff
- General/Flag Officers
- Active and retired military personnel of the AFP
- Former AFP members who laterally entered/joined the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG)
- Veterans of the Philippine Revolution of 1896, the First and Second World Wars, as well as recognized guerrillas
- Government dignitaries, statesmen, national artists and other deceased persons whose interment has been approved by the commander-in-chief, Congress or the Secretary of National Defense, and
- Former Presidents, Secretaries of National Defense, widows of former Presidents, Secretaries of National Defense and Chiefs of Staff
- National Artists and National Scientists of the Philippines
However, the same regulation also prohibits “personnel who were dishonorably separated/ reverted/ discharged from the service and personnel who were convicted by final judgment of an offense involving moral turpitude” from interment at the Heroes' Cemetery.
The first structure that visitors will see upon entering the grounds of the cemetery complex is the Heroes Memorial Gate, a large concrete tripod with a stairway leading to an upper view deck with a metal sculpture at the center. Erected on opposite sides of the main entrance road near the Heroes Memorial Gate are two 12-foot high black stone walls which bear the words that General Douglas MacArthur uttered during a journey to the Philippines in 1961: "I do not know the dignity of his birth, but I do know the glory of his death."
The main structure, located at the center of the cemetery, is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where wreath laying ceremonies are held when Philippine government officials and foreign dignitaries visit the cemetery. Inscripted on the tomb are the words: "Here lies a Filipino soldier whose name is known only to God." Behind the tomb are three marble pillars representing the three main island groups in the Philippines: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
There are several pylons as well commemorating the gallantry of Filipino soldiers who died in various wars in world history. These include the Korean Memorial Pylon, which honors 112 Filipino officers and men who were members of the Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea (PEFTOK) who perished during the Korean War; the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Pylon, which was dedicated to the members of the Philippine contingent and Philippine civic action groups (PHILCON-V and PHILCAG-V) that were sent to Vietnam during the Vietnam War from 1964 to 1971; and the Philippine World War II Guerrillas Pylon, which was erected by the Veterans Federation of the Philippines as a testimony to the indomitable spirit and bravery of the Filipino guerrillas of World War II.
- Elpidio Quirino, 6th President
- Carlos P. Garcia, 8th President
- Diosdado Macapagal, 9th President
- Arturo Tolentino, former Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Senator
- Salvador H. Laurel, 10th Vice President
- Artemio Ricarte, Philippine Revolutionary Army Chief of Staff
- Carlos P. Romulo, Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Senator
- Angelo Reyes, Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff
- Blas Ople, Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Senator
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