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Opinion

An eulogy for my good friend, Mayor Edgar C. Labella

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez - The Freeman

"For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun? And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered? Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing. And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.  And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then you shall truly dance."

"Kay unsa man diay ang kamatayon, kon dili pagbarug nga way sapot uban sa kahanginan, aron paga tunawon sa adlaw? Ug unsa man ang pag hunong sa ginhawa aron hatagan kini ug kagawasan gikan sa nagpungasi nga mga balud, ug siya mobayaw nga way babag paingon kang Bathala? Kay unya ra kon imo na nga ma yarok ang dahili sa sapa' sa kahilom nga ikaw mag awit. Ug sa imong paghi abot didto sa kinatomyan sa bungtod, diha pa lamang ikaw maga sukod pag tungas. Ug sa sa gutlo' nga sakmiton na sa yuta' ang imong lawas, diha ka magsugod pag sayaw."

This was the poem that the young Edgar Labella and I used to recite and translate in UV in the ‘70s, when we were both scholars we contemplated on the passing of that great lady, Josefina Rivera Gullas, the venerable widow of our alma mater's great founder, Don Vicente A Gullas. This was also the poem we remembered when Mayor Edgar and I spoke in eulogy for our common friend and benefactor Dr Jose R "Dodong "Gullas a year ago. Then we asked ourselves: Why do good men die early while the bad ones still remain as heavy burdens to humanity and nation? And why are we afraid to die?

 As Khalil Gibran reminds us: "Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honor, Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king? Yet, is he not more mindful of his trembling?" And as Joyce Grenfell wrote: "If I should die before the rest of you, Break not a flower nor inscribe a stone. Nor, when I am gone, speak in a Sunday voice. But be the usual selves that I have known. Weep if you must, Parting is hell. But life goes on, So sing as well."

And as Mary Elizabeth Frye wrote: "Do not stand at my grave and weep. I am not there. I do not sleep. I am a thousand winds that blow. I am the diamond glints on snow. I am the sunlight on ripened grain. When you awaken in the morning's hush, I am the swift uplifting rush. Of quiet birds in circled flight. I am the soft stars that shine at night. Do not stand at my grave and cry. I am not there. I did not die."

 Ellen Brennan wrote: "Don't think of him as gone away. His journey has just begun. Life holds so many facets. This earth is only one. Just think of him as resting from the sorrows and the tears. In a place of warmth and comfort, where there no days and years. Think how he must be wishing that we could know today. How nothing but our sadness can really pass away. And think of him as living in the hearts of those he touched. For nothing loved is ever lost. And he was loved so much. "

Goodbye, dear friend. Till we meet again. 

EDGAR LABELLA
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