My cousin Ray was never been invisible. He loves to be around and do something for his close friends and relatives. He’s there during birthdays, weddings, reunions, fiesta celebrations and anniversaries lending a hand especially in preparing and cooking dishes. Whenever we have visitors from Manila, especially our aunties, he’s always the designated driver. He knows acupressure and lately he’s into selling food items including traditional food supplements or herbal medicines. Riding his mountain bike usually in the morning and his father’s jeep the rest of the day or simply walking, most of the time we could find Ray practically in every nook of the town proper each time he’s done with the household chores. He has friends from all walks of life, from the street smarts of Malvar, the rural toughies to the town’s intellectuals, businessmen, politicians, artists and yuppies.
Even without apparent reason or agenda, he would just appear just to say his hello or bring something for your kids, or let you engaged in a chat usually over a bottle of brandy and talk about the good old days and everything under the sun.
Because he’s the Visible Man, he’s everywhere. That was before and he’s gone now. He was shot dead by an assailant just few meters away from the newest, the biggest and the most structurally-advanced municipal police station in the province.
Hours before his tragic death, together with his girlfriend and a friend, an OFW from Hong Kong, Ray helped in packing relief items and gifts that are supposed to be distributed the next day to the Yolanda victims in Brgy. San Agustin. It is New Year outreach project of the HK-based Occidental Mindoro OFW association.
He’s always there to lend a hand not only for private occasions but also for such community cause. He is most of the time in the company of local musicians in their gigs. He’s an alumnus of Divine Word College of San Jose who finished his elementary in 1979, graduated in secondary education in 1983 and got his diploma in Bachelor of Arts in 1988. He was born February 2, 1965. He once ran but lost in barangay election in Pag-Asa some years ago and he even had a dream of trying it again in Iling in 2016. Ray’s simple and not so complicated plan for the future is higher than his desire to be with people always when you need him or even when you don’t. For him, there’s no substitute for physical presence, for just being around.
Not anymore. Our family’s ray of visibility just faded away.
When they finished packing the relief goods and gifts, he and his girlfriend, along with a young friend, was waiting for a tricycle along Mabini St. fronting Caimito Road in Brgy VII when a motorcycle man with a woman riding at the back passed by then they exchanged words. The guy parked the vehicle nearby and the two groups again exchanged harsh words and then blows. After the altercation, the riding couple left. After 5 minutes or so, the man came back alone but this time with a pistol. The man poked the gun at Ray’s young companion and pulled the trigger but Ray quickly intervened and he was hit, though indirectly, in the arm. His girlfriend then turned hysterical while he tried to grab the weapon from the man. Trying to protect again his companion, the three of them, Ray, the suspect and his young friend wrestled again and the moment they hit the ground, another two gunshots were heard. The incident happened around 1:30 in the morning of December 28, 2013 and that was Saturday. It was barely 3 nights before New Year Eve.
Sketchy reports revealed that my cousin suffered 3 bullet wounds. Each in both arms and the fatal shot is the last one he caught the right side of his abdomen. The slug that entered into his torso was not recovered during the autopsy. At 48, he was 3 years younger than me. He was declared dead on arrival at the St. Magdalene Hospital. Some says it’s Colt .38 others says its 9mm. Three empty shells and two slugs were found at the scene including a live bullet along with other physical evidences like a scarf, soap bar and pair of slippers.
There were two major accidents that nearly caused Ray’s life before. When he was 4 or so, he climbed their glass jalousie window wanting to have a clear vision of a chopper hovering above their place. He fell and got a deep and long ugly wound on his right jaw. The scar is still visible even when he’s already a grown-up man. In his late 20s’, he met a motorcycle accident and was airlifted to Manila the next morning while one of the victim’s legs was amputated. But as far as I could remember, he’d never been involved in any trouble and he has no criminal records at all.
With the long list of unsolved killings happening in my hometown since I was a kid, we are hoping that Ray’s life would not be wasted by becoming just a small dot in the galaxy of numbers of unsolved murders in this part of the universe. The list is endless and it’s still counting.
Ray cannot easily be angered by people, events or anything. His words were never been wayward or arrogant specially when talking with people even when under the influence of bottled spirit.
Ray could have a chance going out of the country or work somewhere. He preferred to stay here in San Jose when Yvonne, his eldest daughter, finished her studies and already got herself a good job. Some may doubt or question his priorities in life but for him life must be lived each day to connect with people as much as he can no matter how they feel about him and his presence. He ever cherished doing dirty works for his loved ones. The man at any time of the day would just appear at your door just to greet everyone especially during weekends. He loves to stay around and to simply make his presence felt.
The Visible Man who just joined his Invisible Creator will forever be missed….
Today is the first death anniversary of my cousin Ray and I remember this eulogy I wrote but I was not able to say it during his funeral for I was on official travel that time. Instead, I asked my eldest Yobhel to read this in my behalf as his father’s tribute to his Tito Ray.
The night before when Ray was murdered, I was with Jhong Lagrado and Mon Paquing at a watering hole in Aroma Center having a couple of beer. At around 1:00 AM we went home tipsy.
Very early in the morning my wife received a call from Jhong while I was still in bed asking how I was in a very calculating voice. Jolly person as she told him that I’m still sleeping and after some pleasantries both of them said their goodbyes. Barrage of messages and calls coming from different people, friends and acquaintances, came in asking the same question. It was around 9 AM when Jhong called me. “Sino yung Novio na binaril na dati raw taga Bikaryato?” There are only two Novio boys once employed at the Apostolic Vicariate of San Jose: me and Ray. My hands trembled, my heart pumped hard. I uttered a prayer.
Here is the latest on Ray’s murder: The suspect to the gruesome killing of my cousin was arrested in Laguna in another crime and sometime mid of this year, he was turned-over to PNP Occidental Mindoro. He was arrested by police elements in Pakil and was transferred to Magbay Provincial Jail last November 17, 2014. The arrest is made through the PNP e-Warrant System and this database enables the PNP to easily and quickly verify names of persons with arrest warrants. The wheel of justice is about to grind.
You may now rest in peace, Ray…