MANILA – Former president Fidel V. Ramos' cremated remains were inurned at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB) in Taguig City on Tuesday morning.
Ramos, the country's 12th president who served from 1992 to 1998, was accorded a state funeral with full military honors.
A private Mass was held at the Heritage Park in Taguig City before Ramos' inurnment at the LNMB.
There was also a funeral procession to the presidential grave site. Flowers were dropped during the funeral procession.
A burial ceremony was likewise held before Ramos was laid to rest at Section A of LNMB where presidents are buried.
The area, formally known as Section A: Presidents of the Republic of the Philippines, measures 5,000 square meters. Presidents are allotted 100 square meters each.
There was a 21-gun salute, followed by the turnover of the Philippine flag to the Ramos family, lowering of the urn, and flower offering.
The former president's urn was placed inside his tomb around 11: 43 a.m. and sealed around 11:45 a.m. concluding the ceremony.
The 21-gun salute is the highest honor a nation can provide to anyone.
"(The) 21-gun salute came from a long history of military tradition recognized by most nations. It is the highest honor a nation rendered," Philippine Army (PA) spokesperson Col. Xerxes Trinidad earlier said.
The 21-gun salute is rendered to the national flag, sovereign or chief of state of a foreign nation, the President and ex-President, he added.
"It is also fired on the day of the funeral of the President and ex-President," he added.
Ramos' favorite music was also played during the burial rites.
PBBM attends rites
President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. attended the funeral rites and sat beside Ramos' widow and former First Lady Amelita "Ming" Martinez-Ramos.
It was also Marcos who turned over the Philippine flag, which was earlier draped on Ramos’ casket, to the former first lady.
Martinez-Ramos, in a short speech after the inurnment ceremony, thanked guests for honoring her late husband.
She also spoke about the difficulties her husband and their family experienced when Ramos was still in the military.
“Mahirap ang buhay sa military pero kinaya namin. Tumulong si President Ramos. Kayang-kaya niya (Life in the military was tough, but we were able to make it. President Ramos helped. He was able to do it). He was able to raise five daughters, eight grandsons, and five granddaughters,” she said.
She admitted that it was “hard to adjust”, especially since her husband was often away from their family.
“Mahirap mag-adjust. Dalawang taon nasa bahay siya. Dalawang taon nasa probinsya. Tapos nag-volunteer pa siya dalawang taon sa Vietnam (It was hard to adjust. He stayed home for two years. Another two years in the province. And he volunteered for another two years in Vietnam),” she added.
Martinez-Ramos ended her speech thanking guests anew and quoted her late husband’s primary battlecry.
“...Maraming salamat sa tulong niyo at sabi niya 'Kaya natin ito.' Maraming salamat. Kaya ba natin? Maraming salamat sa inyong lahat (Thank you for all your help and he said ‘We can do it.” Thank you. Can we do it? Thank you very much),” she said.
Before becoming president, Ramos was part of the Philippine combat contingent that fought in the Korean War and was also involved in the Vietnam War as a non-combat civil military engineer.
Fans and supporters of the late president lined up along Bayani Road, outside the Heritage Park, to pay their respects and wave flags with a picture of Ramos as his funeral convoy departed to the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
Thousands of netizens watched the state funeral rites via online streaming on the social media pages of state-run Radio Television Malacañang and PTV-4.
Several netizens also paid tribute to Ramos in the comment section, where one remembered Ramos for his contributions as a president and soldier.
“You will be remembered and your legacy will stay in our hearts forever. Journey well, Mr. President. We will miss you,” Ric Francisco said.
Another netizen was grateful for Ramos for being a champion of education.
“Thank you po FVR. It was during your time when teachers beg[a]n to enjoy the luxury or many benefits given. Thank you so much. You will always be remembered,” Libra Dah said.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., through Proclamation 33, declared July 31 to August 9 as national days of mourning for Ramos.
Under Proclamation 33, Marcos said Ramos' death "is a great loss to our country and the Filipino people."
He was also chief of the then-Philippine Constabulary from 1972 to 1986, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines from 1986 to 1988, and Secretary of National Defense from 1988 to 1991 before being elected as the country's chief executive in 1992.
Those who are buried in LNMB include Medal of Valor awardees; presidents; secretaries of national defense; chiefs of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP); active and retired military personnel of the AFP who died in the line of duty; veterans of the Philippine Revolution, World War I, World War II, and recognized guerillas; government dignitaries and statesmen; and national artists and scientists.
Pope extends condolences
Meanwhile, Pope Francis expressed his deepest sympathies to the country and the family of the late president.
In his letter to Marcos, the Holy Father acknowledged the contributions of the former chief executive in promoting values of peace in the nation.
“Upon learning of the death of former President Fidel V. Ramos, I extend to You and to the People of the Philippines heartfelt condolences and assurance of my prayers,” the pontiff said in the letter dated August 8.
The letter, which was released only on Tuesday morning, was forwarded to the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) by Monsignor Alessio Deriu, Secretary of the Apostolic Nunciature in the country.
“Mindful of the late President’s years of service to the nation and his efforts in fostering the values of democracy, peace, and the rule of law,” he added.
The Pope said he will also pray for Ramos’ soul and his family.
“I commend his soul to the mercy of Almighty God, upon President Ramos’ family and all who mourn his passing, I invoke the Divine Blessing of consolation of peace,” Pope Francis added. (with reports from Priam Nepomuceno and Ferdinand Patinio/PNA)