ARGAO, Cebu -- Press Secretary Cerge Remonde who died of heart attack on January 19 was finally buried past 3 p.m. Sunday at the Argao Municipal Cemetery in his hometown.

Remonde was accorded a 21-gun salute by the Armed Forces followed by the flying of white balloons, which bore the phrase “Thank You Goodbye Hon. Cerge M. Remonde.”

Marit, wife of the press secretary; Hemres Alburo, his brother; and radio commentator and Lakas-Kampi-CMD senatorial bet Rey Langit led the closing of the coffin and its laying in the niche at the Mamites Family Mausoleum.

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President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Vice President Noli de Castro, Trade Secretary Peter Favila, Tourism Secretary Joseph “Ace” Durano, former deputy spokesperson and Presidential Adviser for Central Luzon Lorelei Fajardo were in attendance at Remonde’s funeral.

Also present were Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia with her running mate Glenn Soco, Cebu City Vice Mayor Mike Rama and other local officials.

Mrs. Remonde in her eulogy at the necrological service reiterated her gratitude for all the well-wishers and expressions of support.

She added that it is sad to let her husband go, but she knows that his memory will live on especially with the many lives that he touched.

Alburo, meanwhile, said he never realized how well loved his brother was until he saw how many people sympathized with them and mourned his loss from the wake at the Heritage Memorial Park in Taguig to the wake at the Malacañang Palace in Manila, the Malacañang sa Sugbu in Cebu City, and at the Diosdado Macapagal Sports Center in Argao.

“Even if he is gone, we are very proud and happy of the legacy that he left us. This is something that will be treasured and we will never forget him all throughout our lives,” he said.

He also thanked President Arroyo for the trust that she gave her brother, the media and the other people that he worked with.

Alburo said he remembered his brother giving him an eight-by-ten (8"x10") photograph late last year, asking him to display it at their house so that “you will always feel my presence.”

He said Remonde spent the whole of Christmas Day in 2009 with their family - a rarity given his busy schedule for the past 30 years, especially since he joined the government - not knowing that it will be their last together.

He shared that he had even told his brother then to return to the media profession and eventually in Argao, after President Arroyo's term in June, to be able to spend more time with the family and eventually rest.

White ribbons were lined up throughout Argao Sunday as close to a thousand mourners joined the requiem mass for Remonde and his funeral procession.

Some houses even displayed banners, saying “We Miss You Cerge” and “Farewell, Sec. Cerge.”

Conferment of rank

Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Victor Ibrado conferred the rank of reserve Lieutenant Colonel to Remonde Sunday before he was laid to rest.

Remonde applied for the commissionship late 2009.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Romeo Brawner and Philippine Army spokesman Arnulfo Burgos said the commissionship was signed and approved January 15.

But Remonde had not been informed of the commissionship prior to his death.

Ibrado, assisted by Philippine Army Commanding General Delfin Bangit, conferred the rank posthumously at the Diosdado Macapagal Sports Center before the Requiem Mass celebrated by Monsignor Cris Garcia and necrological service at the St. Michael Parish.

Remonde’s wife and brother received the set of uniform, insignia, and certificate on the press secretary’s commissionship.

Ibrado said it is a pity that the conferment of rank was done when he was already gone.

He said the conferment of rank was already approved and ready as early as January 15 and had in fact been sent already to the Office of Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita some four days before his demise.

He recalled that Remonde would often ask him about his commissionship whenever they see each other.

Remonde applied in October but delays in the submission of requirements like an authenticated birth certificate from the National Statistic Office (NSO) prolonged the process.

Ibrado said as a reserved officer of the AFP, Remonde will be accorded military honors. He added that the rank of Lieutenant Colonel is the rank usually given to government officials like Cabinet Secretary.

Cansaga Bay bridge

President Arroyo, while in Cebu, also inaugurated the Cansaga Bay Bridge with Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, Representative Nerissa Soon-Ruiz, and Public Works Secretary Victor Domingo.

The 1,250 miles road is last arterial link to complete the arterial bypass from the southern district of Talisay City to the Central district of Cebu City up to the Northern district of Consolacion, Liloan, Compostela, and Danao City.

Representative Soon-Ruiz acknowledged Remonde for persevering in having the project completed.

She said the bridge, which would help decongest traffic and boost the economic development of Cebu, was started when Remonde was still Presidential Management Staff director general.

“(I) can't help but feel sad that we have lost Secretary Remonde...it's sad that he was not able to see it through the inauguration,” she said.

“We feel a deep sense of loss, but still felt happiness that it is now completed,” she added, citing that the bridge will also serve as a reminder of the late press secretary. (JMR/Sunnex)