"Farewell, Danny and RU."
After losing a number of friends and classmates to COVID-19 over the course of last year, I had hoped that I will have fewer trips to wakes this year knowing that somehow we have learned our lessons well. The social distancing, mask- and shield-wearing and hand-washing protocols have become part of our regular routine and we have learned to conduct business and get to socialize more using the magic of the Internet. (That is if we get our timing and signals right.) Sadly, that was not to be the case at all.
Last week, two good men, both friends from way back and just in their early 60s left us in utter disbelief. They died of complications after contracting COVID. Just 65, MMDA Chairman Danny Lim, a bemedalled officer and a West Point graduate, checked into the hospital last December 29 for high fever which was later diagnosed as pneumonia. The last time I saw him last November I thought he was hale and hearty. He did not have any vices, he was a non-smoker, he watched his drink and was quite athletic. There were no signs he would be affected at all. Apparently, he got infected after attending a meeting with his fellow masons last December 26 but he still managed to go to his office last December 28. It was only when his fever shot up the day after that he was taken to the hospital and was confirmed to have contracted Covid. His doctors affirmed he was well on his way to recovery after a week in the hospital but his condition deteriorated affecting his liver. He had to undergo dialysis. His condition weakened after that, causing his death.
One wonders how a healthy man like Danny could so easily contract COVID. Did he have any other sickness he did not realize or did not let his family know? Being a workaholic, was he so engrossed with work and so confident of his well being he did not want to be bothered with such things as fever that he decided to simply self-medicate? We will never know.
What saddens us is that with his early demise he will no longer be able to see the fruition of some of the initiatives he had been working on to improve the quality of life of the 14 million residents of Metro Manila and the four or five million more who congregate in the city daily increasing the daytime population of the metropolitan area close to 20 million people.
The traffic and transport problem was well on its way to being eased up with the opening of the North South connector road and the transport/spatial re-engineering along EDSA. The matter of informal settlers was being addressed with plans for major in-city residential buildings such as what Manila mayor Isko Moreno did in Tondo. Coupled withe Balik Probinsiya program, this initiative would go a long way in finally putting a lid on the creeping increase in informal settlers in the metro area.
Then, we have the clean-up plan for the entire metropolis, embodied in the earlier effort to set up more materials recovery plants, the closure of open dumpsites and the opening up of more sanitary landfills. I am told there was also a waste-to-energy plan which would have initially taken cared of the Payatas dumpsite, the Smokey Mountain/Harbor area and even of the Montalban landfill in addition to the upgrading of the medical waste disposal system across the entire area and parts of Calabarzon. We note that the implementation of these projects together with the three year Manila Bay (rapid) Rehabilitation Project would have transformed in no small manner life in the metropolis and its influenced areas in the Calabarzon and the region.
Sadly, Chairman Danny will no longer be around to witness the same. But no matter, he will be well remembered for his calm disposition and methodical ways.
The same can be said of lawyer and former Oriental Mindoro Congressman Rey Umali, RU to his friends, whose vision for a vibrant and livable province will now have to be pursued by those left behind, friend or foe alike. Raring to get back on gear after suffering defeat in, his gubernatorial bid in 2019, he told me the last time I had coffee with him that he remains committed t
to attracting investors in the sectors in the province, i.e., agriculture and fisheries, tourism and energy, which he believed would enhance the province's standing many times over.
Having established a network of friends and associates as a leading law practitioner and eventually a senior legislator specializing in customs, trade, energy and commerce, he seemed ready to pull things through. What caught my attention at that time was his saying emphatically it did not matter anymore whether he gets back to political life to see things through or simply be a key interlocutor in getting the needed investments.
Like Chairman Danny, RU will no longer be around to see the fulfillment of his vision. But I have no doubt that in time it will come to being as it is borne out of a clear understanding of what Oriental Mindoro can offer and what it can become.
Sayang sila. They were on their way to go beyond their earlier feats. Farewell, Danny and RU. May the angels escort you to the bosom of the Almighty.
On a final note. Last Thursday, January 8, was the first anniversary of the death of another good man, former Sultan Kudarat Vice-Governor Romy Recinto, whose brutal slaying remains unresolved to this day. Leader of the Ilocano settlers in the province, Manong Romy was an undefeated Mayor of the town of Lambayog, and was instrumental in keeping the peace, as it were, in the province getting the various ethnic groups together to smoke the peace pipe - an initiative which may have been resented by some groups who had nothing but turmoil and chaos in their minds. We call on the PNP and the NBI to redouble their efforts to have this case solved if only to ensure that the dreams of peace and progress which Manong Romy and his fellows come to fruition.