Barangay captain Rama passes away
Basak San Nicolas barangay chairman George Rama, a cousin and close ally of Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, passed away at 2 p.m yesterday.
George, 67, succumbed to bronchopneumonia at Chong Hua Hospital where he was confined for more than a week, said his nephew Councilor Edu Rama.
“We’re still talking with the family. His vigil wake will be held at the Rama compound (in barangay San Nicolas),” Edu said.
Less than three hours after his death, a fire broke out in Basak Nicolas, destroying more than 50 houses in sitios Isla Alegre and sitio Kulo. At least 93 families were displaced.
Norman Navarro, the number one barangay councilman, who will take over in George’s absence, had to cut short his visit to the hospital to attend to the fire that broke out at 4:45 p.m.
George Rama’s nine siblings include celebrity talent manager Annabelle Rama, who was very close to him.
“She was with him at the hospital since his confinement and hasn’t stopped crying,” said Ricky Poca, a first cousin and columnist of Cebu Daily News.
The death was a sudden tragedy for the family, said Poca, as George appeared in good health during the Rama clan reunion on Christmas and even joked that other elderly relatives would pass away before him.
Poca said that while George had suffered Hodgkins Lymphoma, a form of cancer that affects the immune system, he was declared “cured” several years ago and had no complaints after that.
During his noontime press conference earlier yesterday, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama already hinted that George was not well and hoped for a “miracle”.
“George is one of the three members of our family who are licensed to talk. Together with my cousin Annabelle and my eldest brother Fernando, they were the ones who wouldn’t back out from a verbal fight,” the mayor told reporters. A few hours later, George was gone.
Edu said George had coughing episodes last Christmas and was diagnosed with mild pneumonia in January. He was rushed to the hospital last January 15.
“He was very busy this January, he was stressed and overworked,” Edu said.
George, who stood out in a crowd with his height and amputated right arm, was often seen in City Hall and spoke with a trademark husky voice.
George lost his right arm during his childhood. He would often tell reporters that he fell from a tree and that there was no chance of recovery for use of his right arm, which led to amputation.
In 2001-2004, George served as a city councilor of Cebu City then was elected chairman of barangay Basak San Nicolas. He was on his last term.
The afternoon fire in Basak San Nicolas started in the house of Partricia Pahayahay in the interior of sitio Isla Alegre. Fire victims were transferred to the Basak Community Gym. Burned homes were made of light materials. The cause of the fire is still being investigated.
Navarro, one of the choreographers of the multi-awarded Lumad Basakanon dancers in the barangay, said they were still shocked over George’s death.
“There’s no problem that he wouldn’t solve. His death was so sudden. We thought he would still recover,” he said.
Annabelle Rama-Gutierrez, using her daughter Ruffa’s Instagram account, posted a photo of her, George and Mayor Rama.
“Nawala na ang isa sa pinaka favorite kong kapatid…si (One of my favorite siblings is gone)… I know that you have lived a full life. You will be remembered as a good person and a good family man. Today, you join our brother, Tony, in heaven. I love you. May you rest in peace,” her post read./With Correspondent Chito Aragon
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