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Home Sections Obituary-Memorial Park Good Bye, Cerge Remonde: From Fall Guy to Burned-out Press Secretary
Good Bye, Cerge Remonde: From Fall Guy to Burned-out Press Secretary PDF Print E-mail
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Sections - Obituary-Memorial Park
Written by Joseph G. Lariosa   
Thursday, 21 January 2010 14:21

 

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

(© 2009 Journal Group Link International)

 

  

C HICAGO, Illinois (JGLi) – I first ran across the name of Cerge Remonde when I read his bylines as correspondent of Manila Bulletin in the early 1980s. Like, Mr. Remonde, I was also with the Bulletin, then, as a police reporter.

 

I never imagined that I would meet him for the first time in 2005 or about 20 years later in the press secretary’s office in Malacañang, where he was a press undersecretary. I was accompanied by my Chicago friend, Marlon L. Pecson, as we were there to pay a call on then Press Secretary and Presidential Spokesman Ignacio R. Bunye.

 

As we cooled our heels in his office, I noticed that Mr. Remonde was very warm to us although it was the first time that we were introduced to each other.

 

While he was on the phone that day, we noticed that he was talking about a death in the family. So, we did not insist that he join us for dinner that night. But before we left, Cerge gave each of us a bottle of brandy for our nightcaps.

 

When Cerge learned that we were there to personally invite Secretary Bunye as guest speaker of an event sponsored by the NPC Phil.-U.S.A. that I headed, he told us “don’t forget to invite me next time.”

 

That invitation for him to come to Chicago nearly happened last year when he texted me that he would be joining the presidential leg of the trip in Chicago.

 

But President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo cancelled her trip to Chicago following the death of former President Corazon Aquino.

 

I texted him if he could come to Chicago to represent the President and her party after all the luncheon reception for the President was already paid in advanced by the Philippine Consulate. The reception was never held, which was a big drain to Filipino taxpayers’ money.

 

I never heard from him again.

 

IDEAL STAND-IN

 

C erge would have been an ideal stand-in for President Arroyo because earlier when Mrs. Arroyo visited the Windy City, word got around that Mrs. Arroyo was not going to answer questions from the media nor hold a press conference.

 

We could not even pose a question to Mrs. Arroyo’s press secretary at that time, Atty. Jess Dureza, after I noticed that Secretary Dureza was fighting off sleep while seated on the stage with the President.

 

If reports were true that Cerge was sleeping between four and five hours a day, I’m sure he would still be alert enough to hold in Chicago a press conference that is sorely missed by journalists in the nine years of the Arroyo presidency.

 

And Mrs. Arroyo was lucky to have Cerge as a member of her Cabinet because even if he was just a small pea in a big pond, Cerge was ready to take the fall for the big fish.

 

When told about the unpopularity of Mrs. Arroyo “at record lows with only six months left in her term” three weeks ago, Mr. Remonde took the blamed, saying, “Maybe I have failed to do my job as press secretary for 10 months now, of effectively communicating the achievements of our very hardworking President.”

 

Of course, nobody would believe him because the buck does not stop at him – but at the President.

 

I clearly remember what my ninong (wedding sponsor), then, Director of Animal Industry in the Philippines and now Congressman Salvador H. Escudero III said on his birthday: “If I succeed in my job, credit goes to my subordinates. If I fail, it is all my fault.”

 

IT’S ALL ARROYO’S FAULT

 

If I were President Arroyo when she saw the news story about Secretary Remonde, taking the blame for her mistakes, she should have pulled him aside to tell him not to be self-critical.

 

How could Cerge be so modest as to take the fall for so many scandals that had been pre-existing when he took over as press secretary?

 

All the mistakes of Arroyo in the past were the causes of her flagging popularity, not just the latest blunder when she decided to run for Congress.

 

Who could forget when President Arroyo told a Rizal Day audience before the 2004 election that she was not running for President only to break her word?

 

What about the “Hello, Garci” tape where her “Hyatt 10” Cabinet officials took the fall by resigning from their jobs.

 

How about the Bolante scandal, the 728-million-peso fertilizer scam that was used to buy votes?

 

And the NBN-ZTE scandal, and a whole host of other impeachable offenses that she managed to dodge because the majority in Congress is in her pocket.

I have a feeling Mrs. Arroyo missed the warning signs that instead of telling Cerge to loosen up, she tolerated him to take a guilt trip that must have taken a toll on his mental and physical state that led to his death at a young age of 51 last Tuesday, Jan. 19.

 

Perhaps, Cerge was a perfectionist. He did not want to sully his credibility.

 

Even, his wife, Marit Stinus Remonde, took notice that for Cerge, credibility is everything.

 

That’s why when he realized that his credibility was going down the drain with his boss; he must have taken it personally.

 

His dedication to his job that was under appreciated must have driven him into a state of burnout that might have caused his heart attack!

  

Good bye, Cerge! (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

 

© opyright 2009 The Journal Group Link International. The contents provided in the JGLi may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of the Journal Group Link International.

 

(Editor’s Note: Watch out for the upcoming outlet-oriented, subscription-based website of Journal Group Link International that guarantees originally sourced stories, features, photos, audios and videos and multi-media contents.)

 



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Comments (1)
1 Friday, 22 January 2010 17:14
mabuhay
PGMA confers Order of Lakandula on Press Secretary Cerge Remonde

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo conferred today the Order of Lakandula with Rank of Grand Cross (Bayani) on the late Press Secretary Cerge Remonde as he lay in state at the Heroes Hall in Malacanang Palace.

His widow, Marit Stinus-Remonde, received the posthumous award, given “for his outstanding service to the Republic of the Philippines and in recognition of his life as an exemplary media man and public servant.”

The late Cabinet Secretary’s body, brought from Heritage Park in Taguig City, will be flown to Cebu tomorrow morning.

In her speech, the President praised Remonde for his selfless dedication as a public servant and for his achievement as a journalist, noting he reached his peak in her administration.

“Cerge gave fully of himself for the sake of our country, both in government for the last nine years and in media since he was 18 years old,” the President said.

According to the President, Remonde deserved the love and adoration of friends and colleagues that are pouring on him.

“A popular radio host, Cerge interviewed me frequently on the phone in Cebuano,” the President said. “ That exposure helped me because it made many people in the Visayas and Mindanao realize that I spoke Cebuano, and that resulted in my landslide win in 1995, 1998, and 2004 in Visayas and Mindanao, where people speak the language.

“When we would discuss in caucus proposed measures that involved media, Cerge was always consulted as a stakeholder,” the President said.

“I learned to take Cerge’s opinion into account, in my work as Senator and, later, as President,” she added.

22 January 2010
Sent by the Philippine Consulate General
Los Angeles, California

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