City of Mati, Davao Oriental — Josefina “Inday” Cunanan-Sibala, who was appointed governor of Davao Oriental by the late former President Corazon Aquino, has passed away on February 24 last month. She is 89 years old when she passed away due to old age, according to her family and friends.
When Corazon Aquino assumed presidency after a successful People Power revolution, she appointed Sibala as OIC governor of the province of Davao Oriental from March 25, 1986 to 1987. Antonio Olmedo was appointed OIC vice governor on the same year.
Governor Sibala was one of the “fearless leaders” in Davao Oriental who actively organized the anti-Marcos protests in the province, according to former Mayor Pedro Mejos of Banaybanay town, who is one of Sibala’s few remaining contemporaries. Hundreds of people including government employees have attended a necrological rites for Sibala held on March 2 at the Provincial Capitol.
“As a dedicated public servant, she (Governor Sibala) knew all too well that to live is to love and to love is to serve. Today, we begin to remember Governor Inday Sibala, a gentle and an intelligent woman of ultimate kindness. She is a gem of a public servant— intelligent, competent, humble, and an honest public servant. She was a decent leader who let her many achievements speak for themselves. Governor Inday Sibala is the epitome of the servant leader of whom there are too few,” says Davao Oriental Governor Nelson Dayanghirang during a necrological rite at the Capitol.
“As a leader, she was a unifier who brought sectors of our society together by focusing on those things that unite us rather than on issues that divide us. During her stint as governor of the province, she inspired our people to rally to a common vision, to confidently aspire for better lives. I take my hat off to her. She has integrity written all over her. We will not forget you, Madame Governor. We will remember and be glad that you lived among us. We begin to remember not just that you died, but that you lived. And that your life gave us memories too beautiful to forget. You are among the best, brightest and noblest leaders of Davao Oriental. You did not shrink from the fire when the call to duty came,” the governor adds.
An educator by profession, Governor Sibala was one of the most influential figures in the political history of Davao Oriental. Before joining politics, she served as president of the Davao Oriental Girl Scout Council for twelve years. And she became the first female member of the Davao Oriental provincial board.
“So, as we all set our sights towards the future, let us feel more confident that come what may, the great people behind the creation and growth of our province will always be part of our memories. Let me end by sharing with you this nugget of wisdom: If we have chosen the position in life which we can most of all work for mankind, no burdens can bow us down because they are sacrifices for the benefit of all, then we shall experience no petty, limited, selfish joy, but our happiness will belong to millions, our deeds will live on quietly but perpetually at work. And over our ashes will be shed the hot tears of noble people. As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters. So, permit me this one last time to bid our beloved Governor Josefina Inday Sibala. Go now, Madame Governor, with love and happiness, we bid you fare well and soar as angels do,” says Governor Dayanghirang in his moving eulogy.
Both incumbent and former local government officials, including personalities who belonged to the highly influential old-rich families in the province have took turns to deliver their eulogies for Sibala.
“Maam Inday, we will always commit to memory your name Inday, a legacy of compassion and toughness. Tough times never last, but tough people do. This is you, Maam Inday,” says Vice Governor Nino Uy. “As a public servant, she did not care who gets the credit and is willing to share the credit, share the power and share the glory,” adds Vice Governor Uy. By Ferdinand Zuasola