Why does a hero have to die when things are going so well?
When Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, the idea of democracy in the US was becoming a way of life.
When Ramon Magsaysay died in a plane crash, the people of the Philippines were learning to live a corruption-free lifestyle.
When Mario Okinlay was killed in an ambush a few days ago, the Municipality of Impasug-ong was enjoying an uncontested political leadership that went back several terms. And not because he was a tyrant or a dictator, but because nobody seemed to want to break his EXCELLENT track record.
I met Mayor Mario a few years ago. At the time (2008), it was Julie, his wife, who was the incumbent Mayor, but Mario was the brawn behind her seat. Star Cinema was making a film called Love Me Again and their main location site was in Impasug-ong. Our meetings were brief but were enough to make a lasting impression.. well, on my part at least.
First, he didn’t dress to impress. When we went to do a courtesy call, both he and his wife sported simple polo shirts tucked into worn jeans tucked into signature cowboy boots, topped with signature cowboy hats. If I hadn’t known better, I would have thought they were just a couple of cowboys come to audition for the movie.
Second, everything that was requested – a rest house, highway-to-location-site roads, electrical service at a remote location site, 100 extras, tractors to pull vehicles out of the mud, fire truck water hose props, and a lot more – was provided, most of the time for free (the extras were given free lunch).
Third, wherever we went – within Impasug-ong or even traveling between their municipality and Dalwangan in Malaybalay – we felt secure, though we never really saw who our security detail was or where they were stationed.
Last but not least, he was down-to-earth and easily approachable. And he had no qualms about filling in to carve the sumptuous lamb, a treat that came from no less than his own flock. Again, for free.
Mayor Mario T. Okinlay.. May he peacefully rest in eternal glory forever.