Cebu City bids goodbye to Mayor Labella
CEBU CITY, Philippines — More than 10,000 people wearing white and waving white flags bid their goodbyes to Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella on his burial day on Friday, November 26, 2021.
Emotions poured the whole day as the city bid farewell to its chief executive for the past two years. The city was filled with outpouring tears from city officials, residents, and supporters.
The funeral procession began with a necrological service conducted by the City government at the Plaza Sugbo with emotion-filled speeches from former City Administrator Floro Casas, Jr. and Jaypee Labella, the mayor’s son.
The remains of Labella were transferred to the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral through a procession led by Navy forces followed by the Labella family, city officials, and supporters.
Archbishop Jose Palma with auxiliary bishops, priests, and lay ministers of the Archdiocese of Cebu concelebrated the requiem mass in honor of the late mayor.
In his homily, Palma praised Labella’s service to the city spanning over two decades. Labella has never been defeated in an election from running in a seat in the City Council until he became the mayor in 2019.
“As a grateful people, we know how he served the City of Cebu…I remember, Mayor said that in 1998, he was one of the passengers of the ferry MV Princess of the Orient which sank due to Typhoon Vicky, and he said that since he was one of the survivors, it must be because he has a mission.”
“Sayod kita nga he is our mayor who considered his being in office a mission, a divine mandate God has given him,” said the prelate.
Palma also remembered that Labella was always available for everyone and that this was the legacy that the late mayor will forever be remembered for.
The sister of Mayor Labella, Ethel Labella Matugas, reminisced in her eulogy the kind brother, Nonoy, was to them as siblings. She said that Nonoy was a parent, a surrogate to the mother they lost early.
“The five of us, Nonoy, Tito Boy, Ate Baby, and myself, lost our mother who was struck by cancer at 42. Our brother at that time was only 20 years old…while young people in their 20s were busy building their futures, Nonoy took up the task of raising us newly bereft of a mother,” narrated Ethel.
Ethel was a witness to the public service of the mayor, especially in recent years when Labella chose to prioritize the health of the city above his own.
“When the pandemic struck, Noy Edgar led the city amid this crisis. My brother’s labor and personal struggles were all hidden from public view. The cancer came back. Because of the constraints of lockdown, the mayor was not able to get the treatment he needed. He refused to take a medical leave because he did not want to leave the people he served,” she said.
“Noy, nidie down na gyod ang COVID, Noy. The way you wanted to. We will miss you miss so much, Noy,” she said.
Eugene Labella, the younger son of the mayor, detailed the love of their father to his people and how he treated his employees as family.
“They weren’t his employees. They were loyal to him. They would never do anything nga makaguba sa ngalan ni papa,” he said.
As for Jaypee Labella, the mayor’s older son who is running for a councilor seat in the 2022 elections, he said he feels the loneliness of losing his father who was also his mentor and his friend.
“Nagguol ko nga nawadan ko’g kauban ug amahan sa akong kinabuhi. Nagguol na nga wala nay molaban kanako. Salamat, Pa, sa mga values nga imong gitudlo kanako. Salamat sa pagtudlo nako og pasensya ug paggkugi.”
“Thank you for teaching me how to be sincere and kind to others. This is the last thing I said before sa iyang last breath, ‘We love you so much. Pa, you may rest now. Don’t think about me and our family, we are in good hands.’ Even if it hurts to let go, I need to stay strong for the people who have supported you,” said Jaypee.
After the requiem mass, the mayor’s remains were paraded in the city streets from downtown to uptown, to the business centers, until the parade reached Golden Haven Memorial Park, his last resting place.
Stops were made at the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) for a special salute from the police force. At least 12 water salutes were conducted by the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) as respect to the late chief executive.
Full military honors were given for Mayor Labella, including a 21-gun salute from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). The Philippine flag that covered the mayor’s coffin was given to his wife.
At exactly 4:09, the mayor was laid to rest and buried surrounded by family, friends and supporters.
Police Major Alvin Llamedo, the chief of the Talamban police station, said around 8,000 to 10,000 people attended the funeral of Mayor Labella.
This does not include the number of people waiting on the streets since the police could not estimate the dispersed crowd at every point of the route.
Despite the crowd, he said the burial went on without any untoward incidents, showing the Cebuanos’ discipline while showing support to their mayor.
After all, this was the last time Cebuanos would see the elected mayor of the city.
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