• Kim’s Dream
  • Orlando R. Ravanera

“From time to time, there appear on the face of the earth men or rare and consummate excellence who dazzle us by their virtue, and whose outstanding qualities shed a stupendous light.  Like those extraordinary stars of whose origins we are ignorant, and of whose fate, once they have vanished, we know even less, such  men have neither forebears nor descendants, they are the whole of their race.”

He firmly believed in the oneness of all of God’s creation, in the inter-connectedness of all beings and that protecting the vanishing species is the highest form of worship.” He had been carrying inwardly that power of stillness, endowed with spirit of oneness with nature.    Now that he has recently leaped to the Great Beyond, he is now in the loving embrace of the Essence of all essences, the Unmanifested, the Eternal Being, the Creator called God.  Endowed with that spirit of oneness with all that exist, that breath, and that moves, he was right that we are not separate fragments in an alien universe but connected as one to something that is so vast, so sacred and so immeasurable.  Feel that connection with Unseen Being, the Creator and you have no other alternative but to stand bravely for all of God’s creation.

Upon hearing of the news that Cong. Ray Umali who was a good friend, a kindred spirit in the environmental movement, had just passed away, what aptly came to my mind was the 12th stanza of a 17th century poem written by Thomas Grey entitled, A Poem Written on a County Churchyard also known as a cemetery, to quote: “Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid, some heart once pregnant with celestial fire, hands that the rod of empire might have sway’d, or walked to ecstasy the living lyre.”

Indeed, Cong. Umali’s heart had been oozing with that “celestial fire” and his wonderful life had given credence to Khalil Gibran’s poetic lines, to quote: “When you work you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the hours turns to music. . . And what it is to work with love? It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart, even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.” In my sorties with him traveling around Mindanao to promote One Mindanao Energy Cooperative Federation to debunk the use of coal, his presence was always so inspiring to our cooperatives and environmentalists, always emitting positive energies even amidst pressures. He had always been calm but firm.  Titles, social standing and financial wealth – these are what were described by King Solomon as meaningless, utterly meaningless because in the final analysis, who we are is defined not by these trappings but the principles that we ardently believe-in and are willing to die for.

In a society so enamored in self-promotion, in superficial appearances and trivialities as exemplified by almost everyone running for public office, there is an amazing leader whose pro-people and pro-environment advocacies have come of age.  He was an environmentalist par excellence who began his stint in public office as a planning officer of NEDA, then, became a political leader in Oriental Mindoro who have led in healing the blighted province back to life.  Look up to the forest in that province, some 26 million trees have already been planted in the uplands when he launched the project. Unified Tree of Life (UTOL) together with his brother launched on December 12, 2012.  Most importantly, his mindset had triggered the liberation of the poor from poverty when he launched the project, Poverty Alleviation, Reduction and Elimination (PARE), advancing a development paradigm that is people-centered, sustainable, inclusive and socially equitable. He was a very strong advocate to transform so-called Electric Cooperatives into member-consumer-owned (MCOs) genuine cooperatives to rectify five decades of social wrong committed against the 11 million MCOs throughout the country.  He was against the establishment of coal-fired powered plants and supported the creation of One Mindanao Energy Cooperative Federation for the Mindanawons to be empowered to control power generation and not the multi-national corporations. His advocacy was that electricity is a means to life and it must be owned, managed and controlled by the members themselves.  That for him is the DNA of the cooperatives which is value-based, members-owned, and sustainable anchored on the principle of prosperity for all and no one shall be left behind.

He was a humble, calm but passionate leader whose vision to advance ecological integrity, social justice and equity has indeed come of age. A transformative leader for people, planet, prosperity and peace.  He was called RU –Reynaldo Umali, the one to lead in making life better for the poor and the oppressed, all for the greater glory of God.

Indeed, a strong army can conquer a kingdom but the strongest army in the world cannot stop an idea, a great leader –Mr. Reynaldo Umali – who is a strong countervailing force against climate change,        Cong. Ray, you have championed the cause of Mother
Earth that is now being sacrificed to the altar of greed and profit by an insane ideology called corporate globalization.  As the earth is now in the cataclysmic planetary emergency facing its sixth extinction due to climate change, I am so honored to have worked and advocated with you Cong. Ray! Where ever you are now, once with us and now with the stars and always in the loving embrace of God, we express our heartfelt gratitude for your courageous environmental advocacy!  Listen to the shout of the environmentalists and cooperative movement nation-wide: WE LOVE YOU CONG. RAY!  Indeed, what you have fought for in your solitude will be re-echoed by the multitude – soon!