Rajah of "rebound" is dead
By Neela G. Duallo
City Of Mati, Davao Oriental (22 July) -- "There's no place like home" and first City Mayor of Mati Francisco "Paking" Rabat has proven this proverbial saying to be true, even until his death.
On July 19, 2008, at 10 o'clock in the morning, a month after his 74th birthday, and after the last three months of battling it out with Cancer, Mayor "Paking" Rabat succumbed to the illness. His wife, Edith Nakpil-Rabat, was at his side seeing the man who spent seemingly countless years in public service, finally bade goodbye as he had done enough had lived quite an abundant meaningful life.
Room 474 of the Ambassador's Wing of the Davao Doctor's Hospital witnessed how he gave a fight for his life, a fight he fought so bravely until the end.
"It pains to see a good man suffering, but God has his ways. When we thought he was ready to go, the doctors said he stabilized. And when he stabilized, he went fast" said Mayor Michelle Rabat.
The only girl in four siblings ( Louis, Francis Jay, and Board Member Eric) , she perfectly remembered how FGR, as his father was also fondly called, instilled in them the value of humility.
"Dad is larger than life. When we were younger, he would constantly tell us to treat the people well, and mingle with them. I guess, this is the reason why he is well loved by the people of Mati. And there can only be one Paking Rabat," she reminisced.
In the 2007 local elections, Rabat should have sought for re-election, and could have scored another landslide win, but a medical check-up in Manila proved to be a blessing in disguise.
It was in there when his doctors discovered that he has lung cancer, and was advised to immediately undergo chemo therapy.
As such, Rabat made an emotional farewell to the people of Mati, as he revealed his health condition, and in as much as he still wants to serve, but he has to fight for his life. He said that all his life he has been helping people, and nothing compares to the happiness in so doing.
"It's now time that I will be the one to ask all of you a favor, even to my political opponents, please pray for me," he pleaded with a broken voice.
And the people of Mati did not fail Mayor Paking, as daughter Michelle repeated history through a resounding victory in the election.
In November 2007, FGR came home from Manila after his chemotherapy sessions. And he was exuding with happiness upon coming back home.
"I am so glad and so grateful to be back," he said.
Untiringly, he spoke of his piece on the cityhood of Mati.
"This has been the fulfillment of my dream, and I thank the Almarios, for doing the works, along with the other officials and the people of Mati," he added.
He boasted that being the capital of the province of Davao Oriental, Mati only deserves to be a city.
Rabat got the accolade as the "Rajah of Rebound" being a part of the national basketball team who brought home a bronze medal in the Brazil Olympics back in 1954.
As a sports buff, he was responsible in bringing to Mati the 2003 Mindanao Friendship Games, where he got reunited with a long-time friend, former basketball olympian Carlos "the big difference" Loyzaga, who graced the opening of the Mindanao Friendship Games.
Now, as his remain lies at the family residence in Dahican, the grotto and every corner of the residence sweetly echoed his conversation to the Creator, because as he said, "I am always in touch with my Creator". (PIA) [top]