A believer passes away-A A +A
Saturday, June 30, 2012
TWO years ago, I wrote about a friend who defied illness to help campaign for a presidential candidate who promised a government that follows the straight path. The candidate had just lost his mother, whom many regarded as a saint. He had not prepared for a run at the presidency (his critics said he was not prepared, period) but the clamor from the people was overwhelming.
By the time the reluctant candidate announced that he was seeking the presidency, my friend was already undergoing dialysis every other day. But the idea of a government that was built on integrity resonated with him. In due time, he was a convert.
He plunged into his advocacy with a vigor that could shame a fully healthy man. Few among his fellow volunteers knew about his condition because he didn’t wear it like a badge. The energy that he poured into every activity that he joined (he missed only a few) belied any hint of pain or discomfort.
I wrote then about my friend and his wife: “The Friday mall strolls? They were there. The walk from Fuente to Colon and back? They were there, too. They were among the volunteers in the caravan that travelled some 300 kilometers in both the east and west coasts of northern Cebu. And when the helicopter that carried Kris Aquino and Boy Abunda landed in Danao, who withstood the flying dust for the chance to greet her but them, among others?”
Like most of his fellow volunteers, he spent his own money for the campaign. He bought lighters and key holders, engraved the candidate’s name on them with his own hands and distributed them himself. At one time, he managed to sneak through his candidate’s security cordon and handed him one of his giveaways.
Today, his candidate marks the second day of his third year as President of the Republic. Today, they will also bury my friend.
“Dodong” Tequillo passed away last Tuesday. President Aquino does not know him; he couldn’t possibly know all the millions of Filipinos who worked for his election because they believed in him. They did not expect recognition from him, only loyalty to his campaign promise.
But we know Dodong and will remember him. He was one of the bravest men I ever knew and his courage was infectious. He not only defied pain and suffering, he encouraged his fellow kidney patients to defy them. He helped organize the Kidney Failure Club, allowing the members to draw strength from each other as they strived to lead normal lives.
Dodong wrote songs. In one of them, the lines literally leap into the listener’s heart: “Dialysis, dialysis, every other day. No matter what the cost as long as you can live another day.” Taken on their own, the lyrics hint of surrender. But Dodong’s music breathes life into every word and bounces into every KFC singers’ every step, and then you see something more profound than just mere giving up. It is acceptance, the kind that liberates because you know who and where you are.
Acceptance is the theme of every KFC concert, which gathers mostly the patients’ doctors, families and friends. The finale has Dodong’s stamp on it. “That’s life, that’s life,” the kidney patients croon as they hold hands onstage. “Here today and gone tomorrow.”
They’ll bury Dodong, today, on the second day of the third year of the term of the President that he vigorously campaigned for because he believed in his promise of a straight path. If the President strays from that path, Dodong will turn in his grave.
Godspeed, my friend.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 01, 2012.