MANILA, Philippines - Compared to the hustle and bustle of other cemeteries nationwide, the Libingan ng mga Bayani was a picture of serenity and solemnity where tourists and the bereaved can spend time with their loved ones and commune with nature.
Being an Armed Forces controlled facility, the Libingan was secured mostly by AFP troops backed up by the Philippine National Police and Taguig City authorities as well as volunteer private groups.
There was minimal vehicular and foot traffic even if vehicles were allowed inside.
Floral offerings were made as early as last night on behalf of President Aquino for the tombs of the unknown soldier as well as Presidents Carlos Garcia and Diosdado Macapagal.
The Macapagal tomb also saw floral offerings from prominent lawyer Pancho Villaraza and wife Sally.
Macapagal's grandson, Rep. Mikey Arroyo showed up to pay his respects. He declined media interviews. His mother, former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, canceled a planned trip here for health reasons.
Elsewhere at the Libingan, the management set up a command post with facilities for the media, a paging system, medical aid and a computerized gravesite finder. There were also food stalls.
The Libingan ng mga Bayani houses the remains of 2 Presidents, 22 other dignitaries like Vice President Salvador Laurel, Senator Blas Ople, Commission on Elections Commissioner Haydee Yorac, National Bureau of Investigation Director Reynaldo Wycoco, Carlos P. Romulo, former Chief Justice Claudio Teehankee, publisher Max Soliven and Angelo Reyes.
It is also home to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where the flag is always half mast.
There are 41 national artists, scientists and boy scouts, 16 AFP chiefs of staff, 7 Medal of Valor awardees, 224 generals and 9 widows. All in all, there are 47,682 interred here.