Our good friend, Wyden King gifted us with special accomodation at Legend Villas in a room with jacuzi and another friend purchased dinner for two in a nearby Mandarin Hotel, but we had some delay in checking in as I attended the funeral of Given Grace Cebanico late morning yesterday.
Given Grace is the 19 year old daughter of Pastor Jun Cebanico who is the current head of a member church body of PCEC. She was robbed of her belongings and was sexually abused then murdered by two assailants as she walked home early morning after finishing their group work for their finals at University of the Philippines, Los Banos. She is a Department of Science and Technology scholar, in her 3rd year for Computer Science degree, with projected Cum Laude grades and very active in the Christian ministry.
Coming to the funeral service, I was awed by the great expression of support and sympathy of the people for the family of Given Grace. Students from the University of the Phillippines were there and so are the University President and Chancellor, and the Governor of the province of Laguna. The Pastors and members of the Churches led by Pastor Jun were there serving the people.
I was planning to leave after the funeral service so I can pick up my wife in time for our 2PM check in at Legend Villas, but I called my wife and asked if we can delay so I can attend the committal service. She did encourage me to go, which turned out that we have to delay our anniversary date for 6 hours.
I joined the funeral procession which took almost three hours of hike in the streets of Binangonan, Rizal. The people did not mind the heat of the day and pensively walked behind the funeral hearse. Residents of Binangonan lined up in the streets to pay respect to Given Grace. Pastors who were riding their motorcycles offered several times to give me a ride, but I chose to walk the whole time. Never before in the history of Binangonan have they seen such funeral procession.
In the committal service, Pastor Jun and family were filled with deep sorrow but also showed the grace and comfort of God at work in their lives. Earlier in the church, as I sat beside him, he said: "My daughter does not deserve to suffer that kind of abuse and death, but now I further feel the magnitude of how much Jesus suffered for us". They named their daughter Given Grace, and now in her death, God's grace was declared.
We planned to have quiet wedding anniversary away from people, but I have been with more people in the 1st half of our anniversary day. And yes, we still had a meaningful private dinner and had late check in at Legend Villas enjoying the favor and grace of God in our 31 years of marriage!