[PHOTO AT LEFT - the late Press Secretary Cerge Remonde]

MANILA, JANUARY 21, 2010 (STAR)  President Arroyo will confer a posthumous presidential citation today on the late Press Secretary Cerge Remonde for his exemplary public service as a government official and noted journalist.

Mrs. Arroyo visited yesterday the wake of Remonde at the Heritage Park in Taguig City.

Remonde died Tuesday morning of heart attack at the age of 51 in his house in Makati City,

Clad in white, the President arrived at the Heritage Park at around 4:35 a.m. and embraced Marit Stinus-Remonde, a Danish citizen.

After viewing the press secretary’s remains, she chatted with Mrs. Remonde and stayed at the wake for 30 minutes.

At the traditional vin d’ honneur yesterday, Mrs. Arroyo sought a moment of silence for Remonde while the Vatican’s Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Edward Joseph Adams extended the condolences of the diplomatic community.

One of the longest serving officials in the Arroyo administration, Remonde died Tuesday shortly before noon. He was found unconscious by aides at home in Bel-Air, Makati City. He was brought to the nearby Makati Medical Center, but efforts to revive him failed.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita could not tell reporters the exact citation to be conferred on Remonde but said it could be the Order of Lakandula.

“He will be sorely missed,” Mrs. Arroyo told reporters before boarding her coaster. Also at the wake were Presidential son and Camarines Sur Rep. Diosdado Arroyo.

She said they talked about “all the happy memories that we had” before Remonde died.

Mrs. Arroyo said her family threw a birthday party for Remonde in Hong Kong last December.

“I have a lot of fond memories (of Cerge). He got along very well with my grandson Diggy (Diosdado Miguel, of Dato) because Cerge has no children so he was very fond of my grandson,” she said.

The President designated Philippine Information Agency director general Conrado Limcaoco as officer-in-charge of the Office of the Press Secretary but stressed that Remonde’s permanent replacement should be acceptable to members of the Malacañang Press Corps.

Remonde’s remains will be brought to Malacañang at 2 p.m. today and necrological services will be held in the evening.

Marit told reporters how hardworking Remonde was and how he continued to perform his duties as press secretary despite the intense pressures and daily “frustrations.”

Marit, 44, met Remonde in Manila in 1992. They were married two years later but remained childless.

“He told me sometimes no matter how he explains the truth, his statements get twisted. He often hoped and prayed that some would remove their biases,” Marit told reporters.

She said she also felt bad when some activists pelted him with crumpled pieces of paper during a protest rally on press freedom at the Chino Roces Bridge.

“He was a very simple man. Very hardworking. He always worked his way up. If he was press secretary, it was because he worked hard for it,” she said.

Asked if she had any premonition of his death, she said: “I noticed he was not really smiling so much. Not so happy, I think he was really tired. He was not getting enough rest.”

She said Remonde already wrote his last will and testament a few years ago but she thought she was not ready to open it yet. The document remains kept in a drawer in their house in Cebu.

Last moment with Remonde

Meanwhile, economic adviser and Albay Gov. Joey Salceda recalled his last moments with Remonde.

Probably the only provincial governor usually present during President Arroyo’s Cabinet meetings, Salceda said he was shocked that he and Remonde’s chat and smoke at a corner in front of the Pasig River inside Malacañang last Monday, a day before the press secretary’s death, would be their last.

In a message emailed to The STAR yesterday afternoon, Salceda recalled: “It was just yesterday that we were together with the President at the Malacañang study room from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. discussing a major policy speech.”

“I pulled him out for a while to the corner right in front of Pasig River for a smoke. There are fewer smokers since Gibo (Gilbert Teodoro) and (Rolando) Andaya gave it up. He hardly gave any a hint that he would go so soon.”

The Albay governor admitted, “Certainly, he is a PR asset of the administration and he does it so well.” – Paolo Romero, Cet Dematera


PGMA pays last respects to Secretary Cerge Remonde

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo paid her last respects to Press Secretary Cerge Remonde at the Heritage Park Memorial Chapel in Taguig City today at around 4:30 a.m.

Upon arrival at the chapel, the President, clad in white shirt and pants, embraced Mrs. Marit Stinus Remonde. After viewing the press secretary’s remains, she sat and chatted with the wife. She stayed at the wake for 30 minutes.

One of the longest serving officials in the current administration, Remonde died Tuesday shortly before noon. He was found unconscious by aides at home in Bel-Air, Makati City, a victim of heart attack. He was brought to the nearby Makati Medical Center, but efforts to revive him proved futile.

In an interview, the President said she lost not only a Cabinet secretary but also a close family friend.

Remonde was to mark his first anniversary as press secretary on Feb. 1. He took over the post from Secretary Jesus Dureza last year.

Members of the Malacanang Press Corps fondly remember Remonde as “a cool cat”, one who could answer a withering barrage of tough questions with candidness and humor.

The late press secretary’s remains will be brought to Heroes Hall in Malacañang on Thursday for necrological services. It will be flown to Cebu on Friday and interred in the family plot in Argao, his hometown, the next day. TOP


Capampangan in media mourns Remonde, inducts new set of officers

CLARK FIELD, Pampanga – Capampangan media practitioners today expressed sadness over the death of Press Secretary Cerge Remonde even as they inducted their new set of officers.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, dressed in black, inducted the eight officers and seven directors of the Capampangan in Media Inc. (CAMI) at the Holiday Inn Hotel here this morning.

“We extend our condolences to the family of Cerge. We also condole with the President for the loss of one of her most devoted assistants,” said Crispulo Icban Jr., chief editor of the Manila Bulletin and chairman of CAMI.

“We will surely miss Cerge for his professionalism, industry and humility. We will miss him as friend and brother in the profession,” said Philippine Star columnist and CAMI president Federico Pascual Jr.

Aside from Icban and Pascual, the other inductees were DZXQ anchorman Ernesto Tolentino (CAMI vice president for Metro Manila); Manila Bulletin correspondent and Sunstar Pampanga columnist Fred Roxas (CAMI vice president for the provinces); Philippine Graphic senior writer Jose Cortez (Secretary); Business Mirror chief news editor Dionisio Pelayo (Treasurer); and LUB Banner chief editor Ashley Jay Manabat (Auditor).

Inducted as CAMI directors were Pilipino Star Ngayon editor in chief Al Pedroche; Philippine Broadcasting Service (PBS) Radyo ng Bayan director John Manalili; Philippines News Agency (PNA) manager Vittorio Vitug; Tony Lozano, in-charge of the Senate media; Virgilio Vitug of North Luzon Railways Corp. (Northrail); Philippine National Agency (PNA) consultant Jake Espino; and NOW columnist Willie Capulong.

Formed in 2005, Pascual said CAMI acts whenever press freedom is threatened, helps raise the competence and professionalism in the industry, and looks after the welfare of mediamen from Pampanga.

The President was accompanied by Acting Press Secretary Conrado Limcaoco Jr. and Press Undersecretary Romeo Junia. TOP


PGMA offers silent prayer for Remonde, Haiti quake victims

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo asked members of the diplomatic corps today to observe a moment of silence in prayer for the late Press Secretary Cerge Remonde.

In her speech at the annual Vin d’Honneur in Malacañang this afternoon, the President also extended the Philippines’ sympathy to Haiti, which was struck by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake last Jan. 12.

“Please join me first in a moment of silent prayer for the late Press Secretary Cerge Remonde, who passed away yesterday,” the President said.

Remonde had been found unconscious in the bathroom of his residence in Bel-Air, Makati City. He was rushed to the nearby Makati Medical Center, where doctors tried but failed to revive him. He was 51.

For his part, the dean of the Diplomatic Corps and Papal Nuncio Edward Joseph Adams offered the group’s condolences for the death of Remonde.

“In behalf of my colleagues in the diplomatic corps and myself, I would like to offer heartfelt condolences to Your Excellency at the sudden death of your press secretary, Mr. Cerge Remonde,” Adams said.

“May the Almighty comfort his family to enable them to bear with so great a loss,” he added.

The President in her speech, noted how the Philippines was in the same predicament several months ago as Haiti is now.

“We also offer our sympathies to the people of Haiti, along with our prayers that they will soon be made whole again,” the President said.

“We know how they feel. A few months ago, we too needed the generosity of the international community after successive typhoons unleashed their wrath on us,” the President said.

“Please extend to your respective governments and agencies the sincere thanks of the Filipino nation for their timely assistance,” she added.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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