ARGAO - Even heaven cried for the late Press Secretary Cerge Remonde. A heavy downpour was experienced in the southern parts of the province yesterday morning. The sun appeared before noon. I arrived in this town together with DYSS Super Radyo coverage team around 8 a.m. Yesterday’s entombment of Cerge was described as the first biggest funeral services ever in this progressive southern town.

No less than Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Vice President Noli De Castro, national dignitaries, local and national media personalities including members of the Malacanang Press Corp, national and local politicians, relatives, well-meaning friends and ordinary folks joined the funeral.

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She attended the mass and proceeded to the cemetery. She did not deliver another eulogy. She was all the time accompanied by Gov. Gwen Garcia.

People from all walks of life lined up along the street and witnessed Cerge’s final journey as his remains were brought from Diosdado Macapagal Sports and Cultural Center to St. Michael de Archangel Parish Church for a requiem mass officiated by Msgr. Cris Garia and finally to the family’s mausoleum in the town’s municipal cemetery. Cerge, a native of barangay Lamacan, was finally laid to rest at 3:00 p.m. Cerge’s funeral was covered live by some Manila and Cebu based radion stations. GMA 7 Network, for one, sent a news team with SNG (satellite news gathering) equipment so it can fed live to its Manila flagship station.

Streamers and banners bearing the photo of Cerge and with the words; ‘Cerge, we love you and forever you will remain in our hearts’, were prominently displayed all over the town and inside the sports center, one of Cerge’s projects. White ribbons were tied on electric posts and trees as you enter the town from the boundary of Sibonga. If the number of people attending the funeral could be the gauge how Cerge was well-loved, then I can say ‘amen’ to that statement. For the Argaoanons, Cerge is their hero in this generation.

Through Cerge’s effort, Argao has been a beneficiary of various projects directly funded by the Office of the President. One of those is the sports and cultural center named after the late Pres. Diosdado Macapagal, Pres. Arroyo’s father. A new public market is being constructed. Town officials are now apprehensive if they can get additional funding to finish the project with Cerge’s untimely demise. Cerge had sponsored some 200 scholars enrolled at the Cebu Technological University (CTU) Argao Campus.

I talked to some of Cerge’s childhood friends, classmates and former teachers and they all described him as a friendly and brilliant person. They said that Cerge’s dream of becoming a famous person became true. He became famous because he struggled and worked hard to achieve his dreams and inspiration. He was a self-made man, starting as a Cebu based broadcast-journalist until he reached national prominence, holding various positions in the Arroyo administration.

To his family and relatives, Cerge was literally their big brother. He helped some of his half-brothers and sisters secure jobs and ocassionaly extended financial assistance. Cerge was the eldest. His father died when he was 11 months old. Now, that their Kuya Cerge is gone, they have to live on their own.

Some Argaoanons said that Cerge was a big loss to them. He could have achieved more in his career and poured in more projects in his hometown.

In journalism parlance, Cerge ‘wrote 30’, while for broadcaster, Cerge has ‘signed off’. Rest in peace, my dear friend and kumpare. Till we met again in another chapter and dimension in our lives.

(bgnalzaro@gmanetwork.com)