“FROM time to time, there appear on the face of the earth, men of rare and consummate excellence who dazzle us by their virtue and whose outstanding qualities shed a stupendous light. Like those extra-ordinary stars of whose origins we are ignorant, and of whose fate, once they have vanished, we know even less, such men have neither forebears nor descendants: they are the whole of their race.”
Dongkoy was indeed an amazing public official, a leader whose mindset is one not to serve the interest of the capitalists or big corporations but had exemplified to the highest degree the essence of public service, that is, to serve the poor, the oppressed and the marginalized.
I remember during the trail-blazing years of student activism in the 70’s spawned by the “First Quarter Storm,” there was this battle-cry that reverberated through-out the land, “Let not a single drop of rain go out to the sea without serving the people.”
This battle-cry came to my mind when I heard a story from the beautiful sister of Dongkoy during his wake that on the fateful evening of May 7 when Dongkoy was about to leap to the Great Beyond, it was his request then that right after he dies, his remains must be cremated but suddenly he changed his mind.
He told his would-be bereaved family that they have to wait for three days before cremation is done so that the outpourings of flowers must first benefit the poor flower vendors. Wow, even in his last breath, his mindset is one of serving the least of his brethren in consonance with the biblical dictum to serve the least of your brethren and you serve the Lord. From that amazing story, I can now coin another battle-cry, that is, “Let not a single soul go up to the Heavens without serving the least of your brethren,” and when you follow that slogan, that soul will end-up in God’s loving embrace where Dongkoy is now.
Well, I myself have interesting stories to tell on what a great man Dongkoy was when he was Governor. In the‘90’s, I was leading thousands in front of SEARSOLIN in the upland of Barangay Carmen to stop the flow of illegally cut logs numbering about 50-ten wheeler trucks every dawn, passing Cagayan de Oro from 1 O’clock to 5 O’clock by staging human barricades. I was informed by my close friend, my brother, my partner, Mr. Soc del Rosario that Dongkoy was being pressured to resign by the allies of a political opponent staging rallies fronting the Capitol. I immediately visited Dongkoy at midnight with my 8-year old son, Kim and bringing my colleague-barricaders to be a countervailing force to support then Gov. Dongkoy. Upon entering the office in the Capitol with Kim, then Gov. Dongkoy, did not approach me directly but handshake first with Kim and said, “Kim when you grow-up, don’t be a governor because you will be harassed or even killed.” My son then whispered to me, “Dad, please help him because he is an amazing leader.”
Sometime, in 1999, no less than then President Estrada visited Cagayan de Oro as an official guest of then Mayor Dongkoy. When the President and his convoy were passing the barricade area, I ran after the car of the President to report to give him evidences of how illegal logging operations are being done by six logging companies. In running after the President, a group of Presidential Security Guards were running after me, ready to shoot me. But the car of the President stopped and the President talked to me. Upon hearing my report then and there, the President ordered the stoppage of the logging operations. I know that the President talked to me because of then Mayor Dongkoy as he was in the car with the President.
When you need him, he would come. As just an environmental activist, who am I to be given a special time by then Mayor Dongkoy. I had a sister, lawyer Marilou, who had guests from the World Bank and need to meet Mayor Dongkoy who asked me if I can arrange that meeting. But Mayor Dongkoy then was on the height of another very important activity. He told me that I can come and to pass through another door and upon seeing me, he immediately stood up without much ado, to meet me and the guests.
I have so many interesting stories to tell on how humble and great the man was serving his constituencies as governor and as mayor that he had in fact “shed a stupendous light.”
Now that he had leaped to the Great Beyond, let that stupendous light shine with the stars.
Indeed, Dongkoy had mobilized the collective spirit of the poor and the vulnerable in whose name and for whose cause, he was in government for, that until his death, he had fully and passionately served!
Wherever you are Vicente Y. Emano, our dearly-beloved Dongkoy, now with us, then with the stars, our firm salute and warm embrace.