Our Humble Tribute to our Humble Friend, Kiko

Eulogy delivered online by retired Chief Justice ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN for Brother FRANCISCO “KIKO” JOSEF on May 16, 2021 after the Eucharistic Celebration presided by Fr. Larry Tan.

Fr. Larry Tan, our ever-young, favorite priest, who just celebrated our Mass, Aida (Josef) and the children and grandchildren of our beloved Kiko, brothers and sisters in Christ, and guests.

          I was shocked, and for a while in a state of disbelief, when Leni, my dear wife, told me of the passing to eternal life of our dear Brother Kiko. I was just speaking and texting with him several times during the last four months about what our Old Treasury Ministry could do to help in improving the BLD Covenant House. He even sent me a copy of the Coffee Table Book titled, “A Continuing Journey of Faith, Hope and Love” commemorating the 30th Anniversary of BLD. In it, is included a short history of the Covenant House that our Old Treasury Ministry or OTM pioneered in building during the late 1980s and the early 1990s.

          In the beginning, the OTM was called Support Services Center which the then Council of Servant Leaders formed and asked me to head. Aside from Leni and me, the original 13 couple-members of the OTM have been invited to attend this Mass, and I would like to mention them alphabetically including those who have passed to our Father’s Kingdom: Ted and Tosca Aldeguer, Tommy and Tina Barretto, Tony and Ester Cumagun, Nono and Sylvia Ibazeta, Kiko and Aida Josef, Chito and Lita Manhit, Spanky and Dolly Perez, Arben and Nida Santos, Pert and Betch Suarez, Boyer and Susan Syquia, Francis and Josie Yu, and Rick and Monet Zalamea. 

          Leni and I have attended two Masses for Kiko. We have heard the eulogies for and sharing of Kiko’s soft, unobtrusive and likable personality, his helpful nature, his care and attention for Aida and his brood, his total dedication and surrender to our Lord Jesus of what he is, and what he would ever be, in his untiring service to Him.

          These are the same values and work ethic he showed in his work with us in the Old Treasury Ministry. Indeed, as I mentioned earlier, he patiently spoke and texted with me specifically about the completion of the Chapel inside the Covenant House. So that this sharing and eulogy would not just be mere words of praise and remembrance, I would like to propose to the members of the OTM, though already retired from BLD, as well as to the other BLD members, to continue this project of completing and improving the Covenant House Chapel, in Kiko’s memory and honor.

          By the way, one other project the OTM built, with the active support of Kiko, was the construction over 30 years ago of the “Christ the Redeemer” statue at the Mirador Hill Retreat House in Baguio, in thanksgiving for the countless blessings that our Lord had showered on the BLD Marriage Encounter participants, including all of us in the OTM. Before the Covenant House was built, most of the BLD MEs and some Life in the Spirit Seminars were held in Mirador. We constructed this original, landmark without any mention of BLD, much less of the OTM, because we believed and professed that we needed to remain anonymous since we knew the rewards, as our Father had promised, would be in heaven, as I know and believe now that our beloved Kiko is enjoying such reward in heaven in the company of our Lord Jesus.

          However, Fr. Jose Quilongquilong, SJ, searched for us for many years and finally found us, and requested us after 30 years to attend a rededication of the “Christ the Redeemer” statue on June 8, 2019 at the portico of the entrance and with a marker at its foot, and a scroll at the hallway of the Retreat House. Unfortunately, Kiko and Aida were not able to make it.

          So much for the OTM. Let me now focus on Kiko. Given my limited time, let me just say that Kiko was the ideal worker in the Lord’s vineyard, crediting the Father for everything he has done and accomplished with little or no credit to him. Let me just say also that Kiko believed in and obeyed Matthew 25 because, in his own quiet way, and sometimes with others of similar faith and dedication, he set out to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, comfort the afflicted, shelter the homeless, protect the oppressed and visit the prisoners.

          Even as we gather now and celebrate the ascension of our Lord, may I close these humble tribute to our humble friend, Kiko, with a reiteration of our faith that though Kiko may have been suddenly and unexpectedly called from his earthly life thereby bringing understandable pains and sorrows to his loved ones on earth including his BLD brothers and sisters, we are all more than consoled by our robust confidence born of faith and trust in the Good Book that, like our Lord Jesus, our dear Brother Kiko had also ascended and been welcomed in heaven, enjoying his rewards for a life well-lived, and ushered by our Heavenly Father to one of the mansions reserved for His faithful and obedient servants. Truly, I know that, as we are gathered online, Kiko is hovering beside us, above us, behind us, surrounding us with his characteristic, unobtrusive love, to help us navigate our own eventual entry into the same heavenly door to rest with him in the bosom of our Heavenly Father. Amen.

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