The Republic Memorial Cemetery at Fort McKinley was established in May 1947 as a fitting tribute to the gallant Filipino men and women who brought honor to the country and fought for the sake of freedom and democracy. On October 27, 1954, the Memorial Cemetery was renamed Libingan Ng Mga Bayani (LNMB) by the late President Ramon Magsaysay. Presidential Proclamation No. 208 was then issued by President Ferdinand E. Marcos on May 28, 1967, to reserve an area of 142 hectares from the Fort Bonifacio Military Reservation. This was intended for National Shrine purposes and placed under the administration of the Military Shrines Services, Philippine Veterans Affairs, Department of National Defense.
The Libingan Ng Mga Bayani is under the administration and maintenance of the Grave Service Unit (GSU), a unit of the Philippine Army Support, Armed Forces of the Philippines. The mission of the GSU is to provide grave services to deceased military personnel who died in line of duty or were honorably discharged, Filipino veterans, former presidents, government dignitaries, statesmen and national artists. Aside from maintaining the LNMB and the military grave site at Manila North Cemetery, the unit is also capable of providing mortuarial and memorial services to authorized personnel.
The main features and structures found at the LNMB are:
- Tomb of The Unknown Soldier - the main structure constructed at the center of the cemetery. This is the site where wreath laying ceremonies are held when Philippine government officials and foreign dignitaries visit the LNMB. The following inscription is found on the tomb: "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.
- Heroes Memorial Gate - a structure shaped in the form of a large concrete tripod with a stairway leading to an upper view deck and a metal sculpture at the center. This is the first imposing structure one sees upon entering the grounds of the cemetery complex.
- Black Stone Walls - erected on opposite sides of the main entrance road leading to the Tomb of The Unknown Soldier and just near the Heroes Memorial Gate are two 12-foot high black stone walls which bear the words: "I do not know the dignity of his birth, but I do know the glory of his death." These words were quotations General Douglas MacArthur made during his sentimental journey to the Philippines in 1961.
- Korean Memorial Pylon - is a towering monument honoring the 112 Filipino officers and men who were members of the Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea (PEFTOK) who perished during the Korean War.
- Vietnam Veterans Memorial Pylon - this memorial pylon is proudly dedicated to the members of the Philippine contingents and Philippine civic action groups to Vietnam (PHILCON-V and PHILCAG-V). These dedicated men and women served as medical, dental, engineering construction, community and psychological workers, and security complement who offered temendous sacrifices as they alleviated human suffering in war-ravaged Vietnam from 1964 to 1971. Inscribed on the memorial pylon are the words: "To build and not to destroy, to bring the Vietnamese people happiness and not sorrow, to develop goodwill and not hatred."
- Philippine World War II Guerrillas Pylon - This monument 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 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. Their hardship and sufferings, as well as their defeats and victories, are enshrined in this memorial.
As of October 2003, there are 43,592 remains interred at the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani and this includes the 32,268 remains of military personnel who died in Capas, Tarlac. Carlos P. Garcia and Diosdado Macapagal are the only former Philippine presidents who have been interred at the cemetery. The third president who was slated to be interred was Ferdinand E. Marcos, however, due to strong opposition coming from some government, military, and private sectors, this was not carried out. A burial place has already been prepared for Marcos and a photo of the site is shown below between the photos of the gravesites of Gen. Enrile and Commodore Lim.
[ Click on a "thumbnail image" to view the photo in a larger size format ]
The cremated remains of widows of former Philippine presidents, the secretaries of national defense and chiefs of staff are also authorized to be interred in the same plot where their husbands are buried. Currently interred in the same plot of her husband are the remains of Mrs. Evangelina Macapagal, the widow of President Macapagal.
The remains of the following are interred at the VIP and Dignitaries section of the LNMB: Carlos P. Romulo, Justice Fred Ruiz Castro, Manuel Salientes, Manuel Syquio, Jose Crisol, Gen. Arturo Enrile, Congressman Marcial Punzalan, Ambassador Alenjandro Melchor Jr, Gov. Jose Rono, Chief Justice Claudio Teehankee Sr, and Lt. Gen. Rafael Ileto.
There are 26 remains interred in another section of the LNMB which is reserved for National Scientists and National Artists. Among those interred are Dr. Juan Salcedo who was a National Scientist, the poet Teodoro Locsin Sr, National Artist Levi Celerio, National Artist for Music Antonio Buenaventura, National Scientist Victor Edades, National Artist for Visual Arts Cesar F. Legaspi, Nestor Gonzales and Francisco A. Arcellana who were both named National Artists for Literature, and nineteen other individuals who have exelled in the fields of science, music, literature, and scouting.
Burial Section 1A of the LNMB has been designated for the remains of Medal of Valor Awardees. Interred here are the following: Capt. Desederio P. Suson, Col. Jesus Villamor, Brig. Gen. Godofredo Juliano, Capt. Conrado Yap, and Capt. Lolinato G. To-ong. The remains of former AFP Chief of Staffs are found In Burial Section C. Interred here are Gen. Rigoberto Atienza, Maj. Gen. Mariano Castaneda, Gen. Alfonso C. Arellano, Maj. Gen. Calixto Duque, Gen. Victor L. Osias, Gen. Romeo C. Espino, Gen. Alfredo M. Santos, and Gen. Segundo P. Velasco. Maj. Gen. Tomas Karingal who once served as National Police Superintendent and 6 other generals and flag officers are also interred in this section of the LNMB.
In Burial Section D are interred 122 generals and flag officers representing the different major branches and units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The remains of Katipuneros, generals of the Filipino-American Revolution, PNP generals, and a number of retired generals of the AFP are also interred in this section of the LNMB. There are five other burial sections at the LNMB which is reserved for the remains of active and retired personnel of the AFP and other veterans. Their graves are only marked by marble and concrete white crosses which do not bear their names. The office of the Grave Service Unit at the LNMB maintains a listing of personnel interred in these burial sites and can provide the actual location of their gravesites. The remains of military personnel who were dishonorably separated, reverted, or discharged from the service are not authorized to be interred in the LNMB, including those who were convicted for an offense involving moral turpitude.
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