A pupil hurries towards the Ateneo de Naga chapel, where the late Senator lies in state, to join her classmates.
TODAY, I paid my final respects to Sen. Raul Sagarbarria Roco, the fallen "apostle of hope," Bikolandia's favorite son and a great Nagueño.
His remains had been lying in state since last Monday evening at the Ateneo de Naga University chapel, where the young Raul finished high school. At 9 pm tonight, necrological services to honor his memory will be held. Tomorrow, he will be buried beside his father Sulpicio, Sr. at the Sto. Nino Memorial Park.
At the gates of the Ateneo de Naga, a banner asks: "Here was a great man. Whence comes another?"
Last Saturday, a day after he died at St. Luke's, we were at Rosario V. Maramba Elementary School, the 7th stop in our ongoing 36-school sortie for the whole of August that seeks to push local education reforms at the community level.
In that meeting with the Maramba Parents Teacher Community Association (PTCA) officials, Mayor Jesse Robredo, Naga City School Board chair, seems to have provided the answer: they are in our midst, and quality basic education will prepare them for the task.
Mayor Robredo recalled last Saturday's Inquirer tribute to Senator Roco. Among others, the article pointed to his love of reading as a vital ingredient in his early childhood development, nurtured in him very early on by his teacher-mother Rosario.
His unexpected death last Saturday has truly diminished us as a nation, especially in these times when our national leaders have lost their moorings. But it inspired us to recommit ourselves to the task of producing more Raul Rocos in this part of our benighted land.