Thank you, rest in God’s peace, Bobit and Madz!

PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero Ballescas - The Freeman

No one is ever prepared for unexpected sad news of family, friends, and colleagues who have been called back by the Lord.

We knew that Sir Valeriano “Bobit” Avila had been sick for months. We were happy to see posts of him by his family who lovingly celebrated special occasions with and for him.

Last July 24, we could not hold back our tears when we read this sad post of Adela, Sir Bobit’s sister:

“Today I lost a most loving brother...my defender, my supporter, my friend. Bobit, it was hard accepting what you went through in the last 9 months, and harder still now that you've left us. I surrender you back to our Creator with thanksgiving for having kept you painless while being surrounded by so much love and prayers from your family and so many dear friends.

“You have been a big part of our family, and so your leaving leaves a big hole in our hearts. Thank you so much for all the love, affection, support and confidence you gave me. May you rest in peace with our Lord, with Daddy, Mommy, and Johnny, and may you enjoy new adventures in God's Kingdom. I will always love you and miss you.”

Sir Bobit was a very well-read columnist. He delighted in sharing that he was the first Cebuano columnist to be invited to write for a national newspaper. He and the late Sir Dodong Gullas would happily reminisce how they hurdled the difficult Martial Law period.

Sir Bobit always reserved a column to discuss the Sunday Mass readings with his audience. And he was awarded several times for these articles which I learned later he treasured dearly. During an informal gathering of The Freeman columnists and admin people, I cannot forget how sad he was that he did not get the Catholic Media award for that year.

Sir Bobit, who never ceased to be curious, also loved to talk about so many topics of interest to him. Since he knew we resided in Japan for many years, whenever we met, he would always ask about Japan.

What I love remembering most about Sir Bobit is his closeness and love for his family which my husband and Orly witnessed up close and personal during the beautiful wedding anniversary of his sister Adela and her Japanese husband Noboyuki “Yuki” Kono in a Tokyo hotel years back.

Oh, how he and the rest of their family laughed and enjoyed that beautiful evening, especially when the Japanese photographer asked all to pose solemnly for the group photo which was difficult for ever-smiling Filipinos to follow during, such a happy celebration!

Sir Bobit, we will certainly miss you much but we are comforted knowing that you are now with God in his eternal dwelling place. You are our loss but heaven’s gain.

Three days later, July 27, we were all shocked to learn that our UP Cebu colleague, Madrileña “Madz” de la Cerna, who valiantly battled her kidney ailment, had succumbed to COVID-19!

Despite her kidney condition and even while she was already retired, whenever she could, she would appear and volunteer to manage the UP Cebu UP Press Bookstore. Her eyes would light up when our Japanese professors and students would drop by to inquire about and purchase certain books on display!

Ms. Madz, as we fondly called, was the epitome of a dedicated, esteemed scholar and teacher.

She was my favorite go-to adviser for Cebuano language and history. I will remember her as well for her committed advocacy for ‘paggahum sa kababayen-an’ (women empowerment).

Thank you, Madz. May you now rest in God’s eternal love and peace.

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