I thought I would see you next month in Iloilo. I thought you would hang on until we finished the book that you, Nestor and I have started. I thought we would hang out for lunch as promised the next time we see each other.
The last time we saw each other was at the CPU TV studio during my interview with Francis Neil Jalando-on. You waited for us and oh, how we all enjoyed lunch!
I never expected that today I have to bid you farewell without even saying hello one more time.
I am sorry I was not able to say goodbye to you my dear trusted friend, comrade and kindred soul. But is there a goodbye for people like you and I who shared visions of a better world and lived the meaning of protracted struggle?
Life goes on and so will the spirit of compassion and service to the people continue in many different forms even after you and I are gone.
Of course, I am crying my heart out. These tears are for those memories of political discussions over ginamus and pinamalhan punctuated by laughter; the kapit-bisig in protest rallies; and our own ways of looking after each other.
How could I forget those long walks to Fort San Pedro with Nestor Distor Bunda and Ella because wala kita inog-plete?
We bought food for two and then divided by four so we all could have equal shares kay kulang budget ta. Pirme lang kita wala kwarta kay gina-donate naton sweldo ta sa “the poor and the oppressed” pero kasadya gid sa aton nga “gang of four”.
We were young then and so full of dreams for an equitable, just and free society. And so my tears are also for those lost dreams and failed visions as well as for the enduring hope that made us continue our journey of faith and of love for justice.
You were a gentle soul. You tempered my impatience with calm words challenging me to empathy. When I am stubborn, you humbly showed me your vulnerability thus reminding me to be more compassionate than fierce.
Ang English ko, gina-hiligaynon mo. Mas nami gali pamati-an.
I shed tears of longing for our productive, healthy and respectful teamwork with Nestor and Ella in serving the people through various NGOs and community involvement. We believed that leadership is servanthood.
If only one is more committed to serving their respective communities as you and worked out their differences the way we did, all things are possible.
Because we were such a kindred spirit, we found ourselves advocating the same causes and sharing the same vision of empowering communities. This shared vision created a strong bond of friendship and comradeship that is as irreplaceable as our vision for a better world.
Yes, my friend, you rest in peace because you had offered your gift in full to the people you served. Your gift is for them to keep and cherish.
Rest in peace, my friend, for your loving memory and generous service would last beyond your lifetime and mine and our friends.