[PHOTO AT LEFT - Cerge Remonde’s widow Marit with President Arroyo, Vice President Noli de Castro, Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia lead thousands of others in the funeral cortege. Ferdinand Edralin]

CEBU, PHILIPPINES, JANUARY 25, 2010 (STAR) By Fred P. Languido and Jessica Ann R. Pareja (The Freeman) Press Secretary Cerge Remonde was finally laid to his final resting place in his beloved hometown, closing the chapter of the storied career of the distinguished gentleman from Argao, a poor country boy, who achieved his dreams through sheer hard work, perseverance and a strong faith in God.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Vice president Noli De Castro together with other ranking government officials both local and national joined the bereaved family of Remonde and thousands Argawanons who loved the late Press Secretary during the interment at the public cemetery yesterday afternoon after the 12:30 mass at the 15th century church of the St. Michael Archangel Parish.

The late Press Secretary was welcomed at the church with military honors after he was earlier conferred the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the reserve force of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Msgr. Cristobal Garcia, Remonde’s friend, who celebrated the mass, said he and Cerge have been tandem riding the procession float every year for some 20 years in celebration of the feast of the Sto. Nino de Cebu.

[PHOTO AT LEFT - The road leading to the humble family home of the late Press Secretary Cerge Remonde in Barangay Lamac, Argao, Cebu is lined with white linen to symbolize mourning, as well as to serve as guide to mourners. Remonde, who died of cardiac arrest last Tuesday, was buried yesterday at his family’s mausoleum at the Argao public cemetery. Ferdinand Edralin/Freeman]

Everytime, Garcia said he observed Remonde’s devotion and strong faith in God.

During the mass, Marit was given a moment to thank their town mates and friends who shared the grief and showed their love for her husband.

Marit said she met Cerge some 17 years ago, a man who was broke but had strong conviction to attain his dreams.

“And he shared his dreams with me. I know Cerge was able to live all those dreams. Whenever he went, whatever he did, whatever conviction he held he always did it differently than anybody else. He always made an impact.

He always touched more lives than anybody else,” Marit said.

Remonde’s half-brother, Hermes Alburo, thanked the president for giving her trust to his brother and allowed him to serve in her Cabinet.

Before Remonde’s internment, AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Victor Ibrado conferred the late Press Secretary with the rank of lieutenant colonel in the AFP reserve force.

The conferment rites was held at the President Diosdado Macapagal-Arroyo Sports Center, where his remains was viewed by the public since last Friday.

Remonde’s wife and brother Hermes received the uniform and insignia.

The rank was conferred in honor of his military service in times of national emergency.

This was the military commission he applied November last year and was approved on January 15, but sadly, was only given to him after his death.

Also present at the funeral mass were Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano and Trade Secretary Peter Favila as well as local officials headed by Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia and Argao Mayor Edsel Galeos.

Cerge was buried at his family’s mausoleum inside the Argao Public Cemetary at around 3 p.m.

There were 25,000 to 30,000 people, based on crowd estimates made by the AFP.

Marit also said that the huge number of people who paid their respects to Cerge for the past nights until the burial yesterday made her realize how Cerge have exceeded the greatness of a man she thought he was as more stories are being revealed telling about his goodness and achievements.

Marit, however, admitted that she doesn’t know what to do next now that Cerge is gone.

Cerge was survived only by his wife because the two never had a child.

Tears and cries of grief filled the church as Cerge’s body had to finally be brought to its final destination.

Before the burial at the cemetery, Cerge was also given a gun salute by a squad of soldiers.

During a necrological service offered by the Argawanons on Saturday night, his friends and kin remembered Cerge as a person, who knew how to look back to his humble beginnings, a generous person and a religious man.

Remonde was born and raised in Argao. He was 6 months- old when his father died. He was raised by his aunts and uncles because his mother had been busy with their “buy and sell” business.

Back in his childhood, his aunt, Felissima Mamites said that Cerge was an industrious, religious and respectful child.

When he was still three years old, he already attended mass. He was a good listener and remembers what the priest had preached which later, he would relay to his fellow children as he gathers them after the mass.

When he was about 10 years old, he also helped his uncle in the farm. His aunts financed his studies until he graduated as magna cumlaude from the University of the Visayas.

Cerge initially planned to be a lawyer, but he said a lawyer will not earn unless he lies which is against his principles, so he switched career to becoming a mediaman, according to his brothers.

When Cerge started his career as a mediaman, nobody thought that he would excel in the field and someday become Press Secretary.

But even though he had gone a long way, he never forgot to extend assistance to his fellow Argawanons and to his relatives.

In fact, his death was a major challenge to his family who had been so dependent on him for the past years, said Virgilio Alburo, the third among the eight siblings.

Officials of the town thanked Cerge for the various developments he caused the town which includes the construction of the Diosdado Macapagal Sports and Cultural Center, constructions and renovations of classrooms, asphalting of roads, scholarships to 200 students of Cebu Technological University where he graduated from high school and technical assistance to farmers in Argao. — /NLQ (THE FREEMAN)

Arroyo inaugurates Cansaga Bay bridge (The Freeman) Updated January 25, 2010 12:00 AM

CEBU, Philippines - President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo yesterday inaugurated the P2.3 billion Cansaga Bay Bridge, which is one of the major development projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways in the Metro Cebu area.

The President is very proud and thankful that the project was completed with funding from the national government without incurring any foreign loans.

Arroyo said the bridge, which is a key component of the North Coastal Road, is one of her flagship projects.

“This bay bridge is not just a bridge over a river, it’s a bridge over a bay just like all other bridges over a bay in the world. This is one of my legacies here in Cebu,” President Arroyo said.

DPWH Secretary Victor Domingo said that this project is a symbol of eternal love and commitment of President Arroyo for Cebu.

Sixth District Rep. Nerissa Soon-Ruiz, who delivered a message during the event, could not help but put a very political undertone to her speech as she urged the public to support those who are supportive of the President.

“Daku kaayo ta og utang kabubut-on sa atong Presidente. Angayan lamang nga atoang suportahan kung unsa ang gusto sa Presidente. We will do everything, to continue what the President have started,” Soon-Ruiz said.

The congresswoman is running for mayor of Mandaue City this May.

She is the official bet of the administration and is going up against Mayor Jonas Cortes, who is seeking reelection under the Liberal Party.

Cebu 4th District Rep. Benhur Salimbangon said that the newly-inaugurated project is a great advantage especially for the northern towns, where his district is located.

Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia likewise hails the project including the people who worked on it to fast track the completion of the project.

Other politicians and would be politicians spotted during the event were former Provincial Board Member Luigi Quisumbing, who is running for congressman in the sixth district, former DILG undersecretary Lito Ruiz (running for congressman in Lapu-Lapu City), Mandaue City Vice Mayor Carlo Pontico Fortuna (running for a second term), former Mandaue City Councilor Glenn Bercede (running for vice mayor), incumbent Mandaue City Councilors who are Cortes’ allies — Bethoven Andaya, Jimmy Lumapas and Diosdado Suico, Liloan Mayor Duke Frasco and Consolacion Mayor Avelino Gungob.

The Cansaga Bay Bridge is an integral part of the overall road network system of which runs parallel to the existing main North-South line of the Cebu North Coastal Road Project.

It is the last remaining link to complete the arterial bypass from the Southern District of Talisay City to the Central District (Cebu City and Mandaue City) up to the Northern District of Consolacion, Liloan, Compostela and Danao City on the North.

The said project forms part of the Metro Cebu overall transport network and seeks to contribute to the economic development of Metro Cebu amd Cebu Province.

The project aims to develop a new road alignment that will provide access to centers of agricultural, industrial, fishing, commercial and tourism activities in the area and to reduce poverty and promote socio-economic growth in Central Visayas.

It also serves as an alternate route to bypass the congested two-lane Cebu North Road (Mandaue-Consolacion-Liloan Corridor).

The Cansaga Bay Bridge has a total length of 1,250.651 meters broken down as follows: New Cansaga Bay Bridge is 640.300 meters, First Road approach is 428.750 meters and the second road approach is 181.601 meters.

President Arroyo likewise praised the project contractor, Ciriaco Corporation, for finishing the said project ahead by seven months.

The project is supposed to be finished on August 1, 2010. Its construction started last December 10, 2008 with a budget of P2,366,957,938.48. — Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon/NLQ (THE FREEMAN)

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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