Mario Lumanao, 62 – journalist, activist, ‘lawyer’

TANDAG CITY (MindaNews/09 July) – One of Mindanao’s best editors was laid to rest Sunday, a week after succumbing to cancer in a Davao City hospital.

Mario T. Lumanao, journalist and “Lawyer of the Masses” of Tandag was buried at the city’s public cemetery Sunday after an emotion-packed eulogy attended by family, friends, supporters and several journalists from Caraga region and Davao.

Lumanao, 62, died after a yearlong battle with lymphoma cancer, at the Brokenshire Memorial Hospital in Davao City on June 28. He is survived by wife Marietta and three children Mario Segundo, Mario Noel and Leah Menette.

Lumanao was cited as one of the three successful Mindanaoan editors and community journalists and top 10 community newspaper editors by the University of the Philippines Los Baños Institute of Journalism and the Asia Foundation in 1985.

He was cited along with another Mindanao journalist, Atty. Jesus “Jess” Dureza, then editor and now publisher of Mindanao Times, and Dagupan Punch editor Ermin Garcia Jr.

Dureza served as press secretary and adviser to then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

In one of his books Dean Crispin Maslog of UP called Lumanao one of the successful Mindanao editors, a recognition of his journalistic ability and talent and contribution to Philippine community journalism. He had several awards as a community journalist par excellence prior to his joining politics during the post-Marcos era.

Lumanao was known to Surigao del Sur’s poor and “masa” as their best defense “lawyer” even if he was not a lawyer by profession. He was known in the local legal circle to be the brains behind a number of winning defense manuscripts.

“Mario, unsaon na lang nako karon nga wala na ka?” (Mario, what can I do now that you’re gone) Entequia Talisay said in her eulogy.

Talisay is a poor woman who was released from jail after her case was won by Lumanao using his uncanny and superb writing skill. She was thrown in jail together with her mother, daughter and son for qualified theft after a provincial prosecutor and his family failed to displace them from a disputed property.

In Sunday’s requiem mass, local officials including the governor of Surigao del Sur and provincial board members, journalists from Caraga region and Davao city and a busload of supporters filled the city’s oldest church.

Rev. Fr.  Ivan Novo in his homily hailed him as a true example of a man who truly lived a Christian life.” In a time where no one wanted to stand up against those in power, it was only Mario who never failed to make a voice and stand for his beliefs.”

Lumanao, a former provincial board member, once issued a controversial speech supporting the church and several groups identified with militant groups, during a “bakwit” (evacuation) crisis.

“Si Mario motumaw gajud an pagka-aktibista na motabang sa mga nanginahanglan,” (Mario’s activism would prevail whenever it was needed) Fr. Novo said.

Gov. Johnny T. Pimentel hailed Lumanao’s principled politics, calling him the “only true opposition” in the province.

Pimentel reportedly sent feelers to Lumanao recently for him to join his group for the 2013 local elections but the latter refused saying he wanted to maintain his independence as a member of the opposition. (Vanessa Almeda/MindaNews)