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Recognition for George Rama

By: Malou Guanzon Apalisok February 02,2015 - 10:47 AM

If you pass by the flyover in Mambaling, Cebu City, you won’t miss the giant tarpaulin in honor of  barangay Basak-San Nicolas captain George Rama who died of complications from pneumonia last January 25.

Some political quarters may dismiss and perhaps question the move because George is a cousin of incumbent Mayor Michael “Mike” Rama. But even those on the opposite side of the political fence had already conceded by giving George a posthumous award.  Mike has aired a different opinion with respect to the late-in-the day recognition, but who needs it? The hordes of people who go to the Rama compound each night to pay their last respects is a straightforward testimonial for George’s decades-long public service as Cebu City councilor and barangay captain of Basak-San Nicolas.

I offered my respects to George as he lay in repose at the Rama ancestral house in Basak last Saturday afternoon to say goodbye to a friend and news source who did not fail to make me laugh even if the news angle wasn’t remotely funny.

In 2004, George supported the presidential bid of then opposition standard-bearer Fernando Poe, Jr. even if his own party Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) was committed to then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

I was able to interview George in the heat of the presidential campaign which saw his manok FPJ leading the race based on popularity surveys. At that time, I picked up a report that political leaders and municipal mayors had gathered in a northern city to meet and greet FPJ. I followed it up with George who obliged me with juicy details.

According to him, while waiting for the VIP to arrive, he overheard local politicians making fun of the action star. Their jokes at the expense of FPJ so incensed George that he stood up and scolded the group for ridiculing their guest. In colorful dialect, he told me during the phone interview that he was very upset because those who insulted FPJ had faces that only their mothers could love.

As I recall, George never came out publicly to declare his support for FPJ but his presence in the late actor’s rallies and press conferences more than gave away his political sentiments.  It would have been enough reason for his ouster from BO-PK but this didn’t happen. In fact, nobody questioned his stance and left people wondering how he got away with a position, which in normal times would be labeled as “inimical to the interests” of BOPK and worthy of an axe by the party.  Apparently, someone allowed it to pass or risk losing a major ally in the south.

Up until 2010, George was Tommy’s bastonero or party whip, a role that he would carry not only in the south district but also in the Association of Barangay Councils (ABC). The south district has always been critical to the mayoral race and with Tommy losing the elections to Mike Rama in 2013 goes to show how crucial an ally George was in terms of moving political machinery in the grassroots level.

The last time I saw the village chief was during last year’s Cebu City Charter anniversary.  We didn’t have time to talk but in September last year I called him to ask if it was possible for his pride and joy, the Lumad Basakanon, to perform before a very important visitor from the United States.

I was then preparing a welcome for Mr. Michael Beall, president and CEO of the United States’ National Cooperative Business Association who was in town and scheduled to appear on Co-op TV.  George approved my humble request without much fuss.

CCTN was very pleased that Co-op TV was able to provide Mr. Beall the experience of “Sinulog in September.”  I called him to say, “Daghang salamat, Kap”.

At his wake last Saturday, I asked George’s widow, the lovely and affable Geraldine if, by any chance, Tommy and Margot Osmeña dropped  by to say goodbye for the last time to their erstwhile friend and staunch supporter.  Geraldine merely shook her head but recalled how, during happier times when their views were in harmony, Tommy and George shared Sunday lunches or dinner that Tommy himself cooked and Margot served for the Rama couple.

I would have wanted to attend the mass slated at 8 p.m. and afterwards watch a dance number which the Lumad Basakanon was to offer to their village chief as a final tribute last Satuday, but I was nursing a slight fever and knowing that hundreds flock to the Rama compound each night to offer their prayers and condolences, I decided to leave earlier.

Outside, the glow of sunset blanketed the village and draped the rows of wreaths that lined the streets as if to suggest that George has just passed by. Let’s remember to say a little prayer for his soul knowing that his good deeds have impacted positively on his village and city.

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TAGS: BOPK, George Rama, politics, Team Rama

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