Death surrounds us

“A life that touches others, goes on forever.”

Death affects us in many forms. Although we are saddened by the loss of someone we love, we were taught by our parents to embrace death as a celebration of one’s access to heaven, a fulfillment of a life well-lived.

Acceptance of death is easier especially when a loved one is delivered from a lingering illness but even with the teachings we had, grief takes over and the sadness remains.

Thus, it was with much heartache to learn that a family friend, Dr. Julian Raca, suddenly passed away last Monday.

Julian was a constant fixture in our lives. He was my sister, Inday’s best friend who helped her during her bout with breast cancer. He was our go-to for medical certificates when the doctors in our family could not issue it.

I will never forget our emergency trip to the US when he volunteered to accompany my sister’s partner, James, who was in grave medical condition and wanted to fly home as his dying wish. Julian held my hand, explaining what the doctors in San Francisco were saying and kept me strong as I was tasked with the medical decision on what to do next. Julian told me to sleep over it and fortunately, James took that off my hands as he quietly expired that night.

Julian was there when my son, Giancarlo, had to fly home from Singapore for an emergency surgical procedure. Every step of the way, he gave instructions on how to prevent further spread of the infection on the flight home, to prepping up the OR for an immediate surgery upon landing. Giancarlo who is a chef, got to keep his finger thanks to Julian.

Julian was there when Daddy expired at home and comforted us in our grief. He was a constant in our family gatherings and a ninong to our nephew, Commie.

The last time I heard from him was when he greeted me during my birthday and it came as a shock that a week later, he would be taken from us. He was COVID positive and this brings the pandemic closer to home. Gone are the days when the COVID death toll are mere statistics. We are seeing friends succumb to the virus and it pains me to see how people are still not taking this health issue seriously.

It was a pain to learn of your passing. But we take comfort that you’ve lived well and loved by many. Rest in peace now, our dear friend. Rest in God’s loving embrace Doc.

Death really surrounds us and it is tragic how others leave us as in the case of provincial consultant, Marton Cui whose death hogged headlines after he was gunned down in a clearly well-planned assassination at around 8 pm Tuesday night. He was pronounced dead an hour later.

I’ve met Marton a few times and he was a very unassuming guy, often quiet. But everyone in the political landscape in the province knows that he was major force, especially in the first district.

He was a good friend of Gov. Bong Lacson who described Marton as someone who “preferred to work behind the scene, not wanting to take any credit for himself.”

And yes, you would not often see him, but he made crucial decisions in the first district and recently, at the province, when he took on the consultancy position that made him a public persona. But even as a consultant for hospital operations, Marton did not figure prominently even amidst this health crisis and chose to continue working behind the scene.

As the governor queried, why would someone go out to harm Marton? And based on media reports, the killing was carried out with so much precision that even his bodyguards and the security detail at the Emerald Arcade in San Carlos City were not able to react immediately.

I was watching a coverage of the investigating team who were trying to identify the supposed site of the gunman from where Marton was shot, and it was really from a distance that only a professional sniper can accomplish. And with nary a sound, it was assumed that the shot was from a long-range rifle with a silencer or sound suppressor. Something that we only see in the movies.

From accounts of witnesses, the white van which was supposedly used by the assassin/s was seen in the area since 4 pm. Nobody bothered to approach the vehicle which was reportedly idling the whole time and perhaps the assailant/s were inconspicuous since they did not even capture the interest of Marton’s security who, from reports, were lounging outside, waiting for him to board his vehicle.

It was a high-profile killing that drove in over two dozen police personnel there the morning after. Ah, but how crude it all seems when you see operatives surrounding the area without gloves or plastic covering in their shoes to preserve the scene of the crime as what we would normally see in investigative coverage of crime scenes in western countries.

It’s kind of surprising too that the vehicle was not immediately stopped or recovered. Marton was known in the first district that you would assume word of his killing would entail immediate mobilization of government forces to be on the lookout for the vehicle and set up checkpoints.

There are too many questions and with the governor himself stating that he hopes that “unlike similar incidents in the past, the triggerman, the mastermind and the reason why this was done, can be established,” this is likely to put so much pressure on the police. And about time too because we don’t want this case to end like all other unsolved killings.

Tama na! Stop the killings!*

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