Remembering Emong (1956-2024)


Dear Emong,

When I picked up my mobile phone as it rang at around 2 pm last Sunday, 25 Feb 2024, Jerry saw Thei’s name on my phone and blurted out, “Oh no! Baka ‘yan na.” (That might be it.) When Thei came on the line, I asked her, “Kumusta na si Emong?” (How is Emong?) She replied, very calmly, “It’s over,” and proceeded to narrate the events of the last 24 hours.

Although I was up-to-date on your condition, and I somehow knew that the inevitable was close at hand. I was overcome with deep sadness on hearing the news of your demise. I felt very sad to lose someone very dear to me, someone whom I consider a part of my own family and my PRIMEX family.

From your very first engagement with PRIMEX for the ADB loan-funded COFISH Project in Indonesia (1998-2005) to your last assignment as Team Leader/Project Manager of the NEDA/PFDA Feasibility Study on the Proposed Improvement and Expansion of the General Santos Fish Port Complex Project (2018-2019), you provided me and our Management Team with so much support – especially during tough times when the obstacles we faced seemed insurmountable. You were also very much a part of PRIMEX’s significant accomplishments, particularly our winning the multimillion-dollar ADB Coral Triangle Southeast Asia Regional Technical Assistance Project, which propelled PRIMEX to being the No. 1 Philippine consulting firm in ADB for several years.

Wherever you worked – be it in Indonesia, Malaysia, or the Philippines, you earned the trust and respect of everyone – ADB, government, and the private sector – through your excellent technical and diplomatic skills, your sincerity, and your genuine concern for others, particularly the project beneficiaries, mainly poor fishers and their families. You led by example – you spent long hours at work, even on weekends, and you gave your all in order to meet the client’s demands and expectations. You were a simple, no-frills, and low-key kind of guy. You chose to stay at modest hotels, and you ate at local roadside warung or carinderia, together with your national counterparts. You had a very strong faith in God, and that lay at the very core of your being. You possessed a very high degree of professional and moral integrity. You were straight as a rod.

As a friend, you were loyal and faithful in every sense of the word. I will never forget that, on your birthday, 10 January 2005, you and Thei visited us at Makati Medical Center, together with your Pastor who said prayers for, and gave the final blessings to, my son, Mickey, who left us at around 4 pm of that same day. On one of my birthdays, when Jerry was on an overseas assignment, you and Thei came over to our place in Luxor Villas, where we stayed at that time, to keep me company while Jerry and the kids were not around. I recall how I cried while you were saying a prayer before our meal. And because you know how much I love flowers, you always sent me beautiful flowers on my birthday – every year without fail, even when you were not doing well. So very sweet and thoughtful.  

My dear Emong, thank you very much for everything. Thank you for the precious gift of your friendship. Thank you for the invaluable support and assistance you provided me – and PRIMEX – through 20+ years of working together. Thank you for simply being there for us, in good times and in bad – praying for us, encouraging us when we were down, and celebrating our successes and our triumphs, both big and small.

Goodbye, Emong. You are now gone, but your memory will remain in our hearts forever.

Rest in peace, my dear friend.