‘Steady Eddie’ laid to rest

The late former president Fidel V. Ramos — whose term is best remembered as a period of political stability, national reconciliation, and rapid economic growth — was brought to his final resting place at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB) in Taguig City Tuesday.

Ramos — fondly called by his initials “FVR” or “Steady Eddie” — was the country’s 12th president from 1992 to 1998, who passed away at the age of 94 on 31 July. The cause of his death was not publicly disclosed.

During his presidency, the world came to know about Ramos after he successfully positioned the Philippines as “Asia’s next tiger economy” from being the “Sick Man of Asia” during the nineties through dismantling monopolies, welcoming foreign investors, and dispersing economic growth to the provinces.

Ramos did not only lead the country to fast economic growth, but he also guarded its fragile democracy against several coup attempts during the Corazon Aquino administration when he was a military leader and later defense secretary.

A freedom fighter and a well-respected military officer, he played a key role in the peaceful “People Power” revolt that ended the 21-year rule of his second cousin, the late president Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

These are the memories — along with images of him chewing unlit cigars, his calm demeanor in times of crisis, and his trademark thumbs up — that would never be forgotten by the Filipino nation.

At 10 a.m., from the Heritage Memorial Park in Taguig City, the late president was given military honors and was brought to the LNMB by his wife, former first lady Amelita “Ming” Ramos, their daughters, and grandchildren.

The urn bearing the cremated remains of Ramos was placed in the bronze casket and was carried out by soldiers as the choir sang the National Anthem.

Just outside the Heritage Park, hundreds of the late president’s supporters waited for his casket to pass by and waved their white flaglets bearing his image. Some held posters, expressing their appreciation for the late leader.

Aside from policemen and soldiers, some boy scouts and girl scouts were also seen standing near the entrance of the LNMB with firm salutes.

Upon the arrival of his remains at the LNMB, Ramos was given full military honors by a battalion-sized contingent — a tribute to him as a decorated military officer, war veteran, and soldier who held every rank in the Philippine army from second lieutenant to the commander-in-chief.

The military honors were followed by a funeral procession to his gravesite while white flower petals were dropped from an Air Force chopper. The band of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) played the song “Nearer my God to thee.”

The funeral march started after the casket covered by the Philippine flag and containing the urn was loaded onto a funeral hearse called “Caisson” and was pulled by a white jeep.

Behind it was the Ramos family, most of them wearing white with black armbands. One of the late president’s grandchildren was holding his portrait.

Ramos is the fifth Philippine president to lie in state at the LNMB. His remains were placed beside the late president Elpidio Quirino.

At the state funeral, Filipinos once again heard the late former chief executive’s trademark “Kaya natinito!” battle cry after his wife gave a message following the inurnment rites.

“Thank you all for your help. Life in the military was hard but we were able to survive it. President Ramos helped. He was able to do it and was able to raise five daughters, eight grandsons, and five granddaughters,” the former first lady said.

“It’s hard to adjust. He was at home for two years and another two years in the province. He also volunteered for two years in Vietnam. Thank you very much for your help,” she added, recalling Ramos’s deployment as a non-combat civil military engineer during the Korean War.

She continued: “At sabi niya: kaya natin ito. Kaya ba natin?” to which the audience resoundingly replied: “Kaya natin ito!”

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. attended the state funeral. He has described Ramos as a “symbol of stability.”

He quietly arrived at the site during the final rites and sat beside Mrs. Ramos.

The final 21-gun salute concluded the state funeral with Marcos rendering his final salute along with other Army soldiers to Ramos, and was followed by the playing of the “Final Taps.”

This was followed by the ceremonial folding of the interment flag into the symbolic tricornered shape and the playing of Ramos’ favorite songs “Alerta Filipinas” and “Maalala Mo Kaya.”

As the current commander in chief, Marcos handed over the Philippine flag to Mrs. Ramos and proceeded with the sealing of the tomb.

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