IN 1987, then President Cory Aquino appointed “OICs (Officers-in-Charge) to manage Cebu City while politicians were campaigning.
An apolitical team composed of businessmen, academicians and civic leaders ran the city. Appointed were Mayor Tony Veloso, Vice-Mayor Joseph Gaisano, Councilors Remy Mateo, Hermie Villarica, Ed Rosello, Lito Roden, Nick Aricayos, Ben Adlawan, Joe Veloso Nene Dakay and me.
That was how I knew Joseph. As the presiding chair of the City Council, he was cautious, firm and judicious. We were all learning the ropes of politics and Joseph was very helpful. We all thought he was the symbol of decorum—kindhearted and sensible.
After our short term, the group met every month and every fellowship became an evening of singing because we all loved music. Joseph and Tony felt our group must have a purpose, like, supporting high school scholarships for the needy. Thus, the We Care Foundation was born. For more than two decades, we gathered every month at the White Gold House each month, sponsored by the birthday celebrants. We all had our signature songs and 500 Miles was Joseph’s song. He was no singer but he went with the flow and every beat of the song came from his heart. I felt he just sang to make us happy.
Joseph would go out of his way to help. He was a “We Care” who really cared and shared. I saw this during our community projects; high school scholarships extended to the University of San Jose-Recoletos, Cebu Normal University; Christmas donations given to some small schools run by Sisters.
When Joseph became the We Care president after Tony’s term, the scholarship program was stabilized. New members joined our group and they all had deep respect for Joseph. His and Gloria’s presence in every fellowship spelled the great difference.
I also worked with Joseph in the Cebu City Tourism Commission. A real professional, he and then chairman Renato Osmeña made it easy for Nelia Neri and me to make our projects, like the Miss Cebu Tourism, work.
Joseph and Gloria are very, very dear to us. Joseph was kind, gentle and always around to advise or guide me when things went wrong. He also believed in me, so I always gave him my time and help when he needed them.
All the students he helped travel and perform abroad knew he did it to help spread cross-cultural goodwill. Joseph always wanted to do his share for the best of Cebu. Full of wisdom, Joseph would spend time sharing his insights about politics, youth leadership, education and entrepreneurship.
That’s the Joseph I knew. It will take time for me to accept that he had left us. We will miss his grin. And his song, “500 miles, away from home” will keep ringing in our ears. Yes, you are finally home, Joseph.
Rest in etermal bliss, Joseph. The Lord has taken you to His fold.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on June 20, 2017.
Latest issues of SunStar Cebu also available on your mobile phones, laptops, and tablets. Subscribe to our digital editions at epaper.sunstar.com.ph and get a free seven-day trial.