Revered and will always be remembered — if the respect and affection of Tacurongnons for the late City Mayor Angelo “Roncal” O. Montilla could be put into words, this is how they’ll be conveyed.
Forty days after Mayor Roncal succumbed to COVID-19, the City Government of Tacurong offered him a Funeral Mass and Necrological Services on July 16, 2021. His urn of ashes was then convoyed around the 20 barangays of the city so the people could pay him reverence for the last time.
These undertakings, albeit long-overdue since his passing on June 6, 2021 because of the prevailing community quarantine restrictions, still pushed through with anticipation from the populace and much that of Mayor Roncal’s fervent supporters.
In the interim of his burial rites and procession, even with the technical issues and the outpour of rain, the love and appreciation of Tacurongnons towards Mayor Roncal didn’t falter.
The people of Goodwill, institutions, and agencies still tuned in to Facebook however terrible the livestream’s audio was during the mass and necro service.
Likewise, patience reigned over as they awaited Mayor Roncal’s remains to reach their barangays. They even took time to set up mini altars, tarpaulins, candles, and ribbons along the motorcade’s route.
Most of all, once the float arrived in their areas, the public saluted Mayor Roncal’s remains as though he really was there in the flesh.
With this inconsolable loss, even the tiniest touch of uplifting could spark comfort to the ones left behind.
“Toto Roncal is at peace now because he was baptized in Christ,” Most Reverend Angelito R. Lampon, OMI, DD, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Cotabato, reassured as he, alongside 11 other priests, officiated the Funeral Mass and the blessing of Mayor Roncal’s urn and ashes.
On the other hand, Mayor Roncal’s trials and tribulations were retold by his firstborn, Kristine Angelie Montilla, during the Necrological Services.
Kristine tearfully recalled how a crime her father took no role in had stolen away 15 years of togetherness from them.
But amid his suffering, nothing had ever taken away Roncal’s legacies especially the pinnacle of it all – he was the key to the cityhood of the once-municipal town of Tacurong.
More so, his younger brother, incumbent City Mayor Lino O. Montilla, as well as his friends and Executive Assistants, Rogelio Garcia and Elma Bides, also uttered their recollections of Mayor Roncal’s part in their lives.
The League of the Cities of the Philippines (LCP) National President Hon. Evelio Leonardia and Koronadal City Mayor Hon. Eliordo Ogena also expressed their profound sympathies.
Succeeding these tributes, the Sangguinang Panlungsod (SP) of Tacurong presented the bereaved family with an SP Resolution honoring Mayor Roncal. The Mass Card from the Office of President Rodrigo Duterte was also handed over. Then, it was finally Mayor Roncal’s wife, former City First Lady Cora Montilla’s, turn to speak her piece.
“In the name of Toto Roncal, thank you to all the people of Tacurong who supported him when he first became a mayor in 1988, when he became a congressman, and even until now that he returned to serve our city,” Cora pronounced.
She then sought for Mayor Roncal’s guidance.
“Continue to guide and guard us, your family, at all times. Watch over Toto Lino so he could deliver all your visions for your beloved Tacurong and look after the people of the city who dearly loved you,” Cora added as she finally closes her eulogy with Mayor Roncal’s tagline, “Ugyon, Yuhom, Tahom, Tacurong. Ciudad ko, Palangga ko!”
When all these homage to Mayor Roncal concluded, the motorcade of his urn and ashes commenced by 10:30 AM.
A Water-Gun Salute from the Bureau of Fire Protection hailed Mayor Roncal’s fleet before it went on.
For more than 6 hours under the fickle weather of heat and rain, Mayor Roncal’s remains finally reached its resting place just few minutes past of 4:00 PM.
A final blessing was rendered for his interment. Green and white balloons were freed to the sky and white roses were placed inside Mayor Roncal’s tomb at the Montilla Compound Mausoleum.
At last, Mayor Roncal was laid to rest.
His departure might have been painful and unexpected, but it will never be in vain for he has shown Tacurong that even when he was vulnerable to the virus, he selflessly stood in the frontlines because that’s the kind of leader the city needs and deserves.
He may be gone but the legacies and contributions he left behind are eternally tattooed in our lives and Tacurong City itself. (DECostas, LGU-TacInformation)