IT WAS his first death anniversary and it saw the gathering of the kindred together with his love ones right above his tomb at Greenhills. What aptly came to my mind in remembering the late Congressman Guillermo P. Cua was the 12th stanza of a 17th century poem written by Thomas Grey on a County Churchyard also known as a cemetery, to quote, "Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid, some heart once pregnant with celestial fire, hands, that the rod of empire might have swayed, or walked to ecstasy the living lyre."

Indeed, his heart had been filled with that "celestial fire" and his life had given credence to Khalil Gibran's poetic lines, to quote, "When you work you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the hours turns to music . . . And what it is to work with love? It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart, even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth . . ." His colleagues in the National Confederation of Cooperatives, the party-list that he outstandingly represented during his stint in Congress, could well attest to that as his presence had always been inspiring, always emitting positive energies even amidst pressures. He had always been calm but firm.

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His life had showcased a meaningful life based on the principles that he had lived-by. Titles, social standing and financial wealth. These are what were described by King Solomon as meaningless, utterly meaningless because in the final analysis who we are is defined not by these trappings but the principles that we ardently believe-in and are willing to die for.

One man had outstandingly exemplified in clear categorical term that the essence of his life is to advance a set of principles, time-honored and universally-accepted, to which he had given high adherence to, nurtured and passed on to him at an early age by his father, Atty. Mords Cua, aptly called the "Father of Cooperativism" in Mindanao, if not, in the country.

To all of us in the cooperative movement, he was a kindred spirit - a son of Cagayan de Oro and of Mindanao, a brother to all cooperators and a leader par excellence who fought for the cooperatives, in whose name and whose cause, he had lived and died for. Only one imbued with celestial fire in his heart could bring that struggle to greater heights.

He had lived in our midst, bringing a beacon of light in the darkness of social inequities and a transformational leader to democratize wealth and power in a highly skewed and elitist society. He was our voice in that Hall and we could just imagine the pains, the steep climb in an uphill struggle in the long and arduous journey of creating the correct policy environment for cooperatives to bloom and in effect, bring forth social re-structuring based on the principles of social justice, participation and sustainable development. Such was not an easy task that called for dismantling of oppressive structures, challenging head-on the cabal of vested interest.

We can only feel those struggles, within and without, of a kindred who against all odds gave all in effecting a paradigm shift to make life better for his people. He was that vessel that "thou emptiest again and again, and filleth it ever with fresh life. This little flute of reed thou hast carried over hills and dales, and has breath though it melodies eternally new." (Rabindranath Tagore)

Now, our beloved brother Congressman Guillermo P. Cua, is in the realm of the ethereal as he is now married with eternity but his deeds will reverberate in history. To him, our firm salute and warm embrace from the Region whom he aptly described as most development oriented. (