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  • Writer's pictureMelo Acuna

Full text of Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas' homily at the Funeral Mass for PBSCA.

The following is the complete text of Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas' homily during the last mass for late former president Benigno Aquino III:

Your excellency, the bishop of Caloocan, your excellency the vice president of the Philippines, reverend fathers, the honorable government officials, brothers and sisters in Christ.

Nakakagulat, nakakahinayang, nakakalungkot, nakakainggit. Sa kabila ng lahat, salamat pa rin sa Diyos.

President Noy crossed over to the next life as the sun was rising three days ago, on the feast of John the Baptist. The lights at Times Street have been extinguished, but there is no darkness. An endless bright day has dawned upon our dear President Noy. The sun will not set on him anymore. Darkness can touch him no longer. The battle is over. The victory is won.

His silence after his presidential term was a silence of dignity. As he brought dignity and honesty to his service to the nation as our president, he preserved that dignity after his retirement. It was the silence of noble statesmen now rare and forgotten. It was the silence of Daang Matuwid. It was a silence of nobility — that sense of dignity that we truly miss now.

He endured and carried the cross of his health problems with courageous dignity, with uncomplaining fortitude, hidden from the limelight, known only to God. It was like the quiet nobility of the Lord Jesus before Pilate. Kaya tayo nagulat. Death for him came like a thief in the night, as the Gospels say. Namatay siya sa kanyang pagkakahimbing.

But then, it was not also surprising. PNoy died as he lived. He served without fanfare. He abhorred power trappings and power-tripping. He slipped away as quietly as much as possible, disturbing no one. Walang wang-wang, very PNoy and not surprising.

Gayunman, kung tayo’y nagulat sa kanyang biglang pagpanaw, magmasid sana tayo sa buong bansa. Hindi ba dapat din tayo magulat sa nagaganap sa ating paligid? Eulogies have been written and spoken and shared, but the best eulogy tribute that we can pay to our President Noy is to bring back, recover, preserve, safeguard, and never again to compromise our dignity as a people and the decency of our leaders as servants, not bosses. The flags at half-mast are not only for the dead president, but for the dying decent governance. Tayo ang boss niya. He lived by it, we are grateful for it. The greatest among you will be your servant, says the Lord.

From our human reckoning, 61 is an age too young to die. But his relatively short life is a fitting reminder for us that what matters indeed is not how long we live, but how. After all, Christ died at 33. When you are given the chance to serve, serve; a chance to lead, lead; a chance to soar high, soar high. He responded to the call and gave us his best. Your light may shine before others that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father. PNoy did not quote that Bible text, he lived it.

He made himself an easy target of discontent, trolls and bashers, but focused vision was the rule of his leadership, the rule of his leadership game. And what a brave, headstrong visionary he was. Visionaring matigas ang ulo. Sayang. He still had so much to teach us about decency and integrity. He still had so much to teach us about good governance and professionalism. He had so much to teach us about self-sacrifice and simplicity.

Maybe, and I do hope, his death will spark another fire within us to resurrect his example of decency and integrity. The sincerest form of tribute to dear President Noy is to relive his life lessons of decency and ethical leadership, recover honor and dignity in our public and private lives among us private citizens and our leaders. His mortal remains are now ashes, but his integrity and decency must resurrect through us and in the leaders we choose.

As we expect our shock and regrets, there is also a tinge of envy in my soul. Nakakainggit. President Noy has joined the pantheon of the great and has entered into eternity. His sickness can no longer threaten, where fake news has no more place, and trolls are dead, where God’s commandments are no longer transgressed, and God’s name can no longer be blasphemed, where vulgarity, brutality and terror is vanquished by compassion, where God and his love alone reign supreme — that is where we believe he has crossed over, into the new heavens and the new earth. We who are left behind, sighing, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears, must still toil under the heat of the sun. We still have to endure mediocrity and violence and vulgarity and treachery. Buti pa si PNoy, malaya na talaga.

Sa kanyang pagtawid sa kabila, naroroong yayakap sa kanya ang kanyang dalawang bayaning magulang — proud parents of a noble son. Nakakainggit. There is a new great Filipino in heaven, joining his great Filipino parents.

Nakakagulat. Nakakahinayang. Nakakalungkot. Nakakainggit. Sa kabila ng lahat, salamat pa rin sa Diyos. Like Timothy, he can say, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Salamat, Panginoon, sa matuwid na lingkod bayan. Salamat, Panginoon, sa marangal niyang katahimikan. Salamat sa halimbawa ng tuwid na daan. Salamat sa pangulong ang boss niya ay taumbayan. Salamat sa pamana ng aruga sa mahirap. Salamat sa paglilingkod na masusi at tapat. Salamat sa tapang na ipagtanggol ang dagat. Salamat sa talino at malinaw na pangarap.

President Noy, kami pong boss ninyo ay nagpapasalamat sa inyo. Mabuhay na po kayo sa tahanan ng Diyos. Kami po ang boss ninyo, kayo po ang aming champion. May you find the rest that earth failed to give you.

Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas delivering his Homily at the Funeral Mass for President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III at the Church of the Gesu, Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City Saturday morning. (Screen grab from Radyo Katipunan/Melo M. Acuna)

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