Last August 5, 2009, Philippines four honor guards stood for more than 9 hours (snappy, straight, no food and water, no rest even through rainy day, bumps, dryness on the road and inclines) to escort Former President Cory Aquino’s remains from the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros to the Manila Memorial Park in Paranaque City, which is a 23 kilometer route. The four honor guards boarded the truck at past 11 a.m. when police generals, acting as pallbearers, carried Cory Aquino’s wooden casket out of the cathedral after the more than two-hour Requiem Mass.
They got off the truck past 8 p.m. when they reached Manila Memorial Park where the revered People Power heroine was laid to rest next to her martyred husband, former Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. The honor guards were given the highest honor and commendation and a cash of 25,000 pesos each. What they did seem ordinary to us. But try standing up for hours on the truck without moving and you’d see how difficult it was. It’s harder than walking, it’s harder than running, stand in one position for eight hours is a very tough job, however, they quietly did their job.
The names of the four Honor guards were:
1. Police Officer 1 Danilo Malab Jr.
- 25 years old. Represents the Philippine National Police, Headquarters Support Services (PNP-HSS). Joined PNP last June 1, 2008
- He did not think about the difficulties because it’s a great honor to serve former president Cory Aquino
- His simple breakfast of eggs and dried beef was what gave him the energy to endure the long funeral procession wherein they were deployed as early as 6am. Prayers for stamina, and determination to live up to the expectation of his superiors and a mourning nation kept him on his feet.
- PNP chief Director General Jesus Verzosa promoted him to the next rank (PO2) and one week vacation.
- Malab said regular physical fitness exercises helped him and the three other honor guards to endure the rain and wind during the funeral procession.
- He admitted that he moved his toes, but they all ignored the coins that hit them when bystanders threw coins at the coffin as part of a Filipino tradition for the dead.
- Senior Inspector Jesus Manalo, who was in charge of the police team assigned to the security of the cortege, admitted that he never expected the funeral procession to last more than four hours.“But the procession took a lot longer because of the number of people. We were worried about Danny (Malab), but we knew he could do it and he did not let us down,” Manalo said in Filipino. Manalo said his first words to Malab as soon as he alighted from the truck carrying President Aquino’s casket when it reached the gate of the Manila Memorial Park was, “Are you okay? What do you want?” Malab said he ran towards a portable toilet set up near the gate of the memorial park.
- While he was standing up there, Malab said he thought his wife Joan, who is working in Canada, and his parents Danilo Sr., and Alice (hometown: Isabela) was watching television and was very proud of his contribution to the historic event.
2. Private First Class (PFC) Antonio Cadiente (Army)
- 23 years old represented the army and is detailed Escort Battalion based in Fort Bonifacio
- Cadiente said they were proud because they served a former commander-in-chief.
- He said the tens of thousands of people watching and joining the funeral procession gave them strength for their job.
3. Airman Second Class Gener Laguindam (Air Force)
- 24 years old from Pampanga.
- He "volunteered" to be one of the four honor guards, saying he was doing it as his means of paying tribute to the late President Aquino.
- He was the third choice for this opportunity, the first one was disqualified for the height and the second one got sick.
- Detailed at the Air Force’s Honor Escort Battalion, which usually performs parade honors at Villamor Airbase.
4. Petty Officer 3 Edgardo Rodriguez (Navy)
- 37 years old.
- I prayed to Mrs. Cory Aquino, ‘Please help us since you are close with Jesus.’ I prayed for rain. Only minutes after Rodriguez started his silent prayer, rain poured.
- Ate fried rice only for breakfast before the long funeral procession.
- Petty Officer 3 Edgardo Rodriguez said that he could not believe their efforts would catch public attention, including that of his wife Marissa and their three children.
- When they were thirsty, they simply drank rain water dripping from their faces.
- “We have to perform some finger and foot exercises without being noticed so our muscles would not lock. Aside from being hungry, we just could not go to the toilet” Rodriguez said.
- “When I got off the truck, I went to the police who all pointed to the portalets,” Rodriguez said, adding that after going to the restroom, he proceeded to their service vehicle to eat packed food prepared for them.
- When he returned to Navy headquarters Rodriguez said he was surprised to see his colleagues all cheering him and asking for his autograph.