Lamitan folk give emotional farewell to slain ex-mayor Rose Furigay
LAMITAN CITY, Basilan — Thousands of residents here took time off from their regular tasks to send off former mayor Rosita Furigay to her final resting place on Wednesday.
Furigay, who was slain in a shooting spree inside the Ateneo de Manila University campus last July 24, was buried in a family-owned estate at Barangay Limook, three days after she was brought from Manila.
Prior to the burial, Furigay’s remains were made available for public viewing in the family residence in Barangay Malinis, inside the gym of the Lamitan City Hall complex, and at the Saint Peter’s parish church.
For the funeral, the majority of the mourners wore black while the immediate family members, including her husband, Mayor Roderick Furigay and daughters Vanessa and Kelsey, were clad in white.
During the last public viewing at the gym, sone 200 barangay health workers (BHWs) cried as they bid the former three-term mayor farewell.
Lilibeth Mata, president of the group of BHWs, said Furigay institutionalized the services of skilled hilot or traditional healers in the city’s villages and they received a monthly allowance since 2013.
“We are called as Yellow Armies of Rose. We are the first group that Mayor Rose always tapped when she goes to a barangay. It’s like a backbone in the community. This is the reason why we never reach critical level during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mata said.
Fe Anglico wept profusely as she hugged Furigay’s coffin. She said the former mayor was an angel to her after she suffered stroke. “She was with me all the time. She took time to be with me in my darkest moments.”
A tearful Emboh Ballaho, 62, a Yakan hilot of Barangay Maganda, embraced the coffin of Furigay whom she credited for recognizing the contribution of traditional healers in society.
Mayor Furigay had to calm his daughter Kelsey who was shaken when soldiers performed a 21-gun salute to the former mayor.
“I was shaken at the gun salute. I didn’t expect it because that was the sound my mom probably heard last. Me and my sister, we were traumatized by guns, it kills people,” Kelsey said in an interview after the burial.
Overwhelmed by the outpouring of emotions and support from the people of Lamitan, Kelsey requested them to “please continue to honor my mom, honor her memory, continue to fight for justice, and to continue her legacy.”
Basilan Governor Jim Salliman remembers Furigay for, among others, her ability to bring together into the cause of peace the leaders of various faith traditions.
Isabela Bishop Leo Dalmao, who concelebrated the funeral mass with six priests, described Rosita as a person of peace and reconciliation.
“Her death left us devastated and in grief,” Dalmao said.
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