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We mourn them, we commemorate their death anniversaries with rallies, we look to other heroes-in-the-making to step up and fill their big shoes. This Undas, we inject a bit of patriotic spirit by visiting the graves of some of our heroes. This is but another way to honor them, and say our thanks.

First stop, Manila North Cemetery, La Loma, Manila. Here lies the late great Fernando Poe, Jr. During the wake of ‘Da King’, oganizers estimated the number of mourners at two million.

These days, the numbers have dwindled but they still come in the hundreds. And why should they not? Two hundred flicks under his belt, charity work no one in the media knew about, and immortalizing Panday on film – FPJ was loved by all.

His widow, the lovely actress Susan Roces is a joy for the security guards and caretakers. Narrates the caretaker of FPJ's grave, Gigi delos Santos, "May gate na mas malapit dito sa libingan ng mga Poe na inalok ng mga security [guard] na buksan para kay Ma’am Susan kapag bibisita siya. Ang sagot ni Ma’am Susan, 'Salamat na lang, pero huwag lang para sa akin.'"

She tells us that it does get very busy during All Soul's day, with fans from provinces faraway visiting and paying their respects. "Daan-daan ang dumadalaw dito. Pila-pila sila, back-to-back." 

Another legend resting in peace at the North Cemetery is Pancho Villa. Before Manny Pacquiao, there was this boxing great. He became the World Flyweight boxing champion two years before he died in 1925. The culprit? Compliations from a tooth extraction at the tender age of 23.

Says Rudy Dacpano, Villa's caretaker: "Dumalaw na si Harold James [Gomes, boxer Flash Elorde's nemesis]. Si Pacquiao, nangakong dadalaw pero hindi pa dumaraan. Sana nga, para guminhawa naman kami."


WORDS BY: CECILE JUSI
PHOTOS: WINSTON BALTASAR

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