BUKIDNON, Philippines – The flag at the Malaybalay City hall flew at half-staff on Friday, February 18, as Bukidnon province’s capital city mourned the loss of its mayor, Florencio “Doc Boy” Flores Jr.
Flores died of complications resulting from a COVID-19 infection while confined at the Polymedic Plaza in Cagayan de Oro City on Thursday afternoon, February 17. He was 72.
A physician by profession, Flores tested positive for COVID-19 twice – first on January 27, and again on February 7, five days after he already tested negative for the virus.
When he confirmed that he caught the virus in a Facebook post on January 27, Flores said he was merely coughing and had no other symptoms.
“The experts have warned us we could highly get this virus. Thus, we should be extremely careful and strengthen our immunity. Let’s be responsible, if you feel under the weather please stay at home,” he wrote in his post.
Flores was tested again on February 2, and the result showed he was no longer infected. But the third test on February 7 showed that he had COVID-19, prompting his family to bring him to the hospital.
Flores reported back to work on February 3, a day after he tested negative for COVID-19 and even officiated weddings for two days.
The well-loved mayor and former Bukidnon congressman’s cremains were brought back to Malaybalay from Cagayan de Oro on Friday morning, February 18.
The vehicle that carried his ashes was met by relatives, friends, and Malaybalay City hall employees in Barangay Dalwangan, and then they escorted the cremains to the city proper.
Local government workers wore black and white shirts as grief, shock, and the feeling of great loss enveloped the city where flags flew at half-staff.
“No one said ‘good morning’ to each other as we arrived in our offices. There was only deafening silence. We are so sad, and the weather is as gloomy as we are,” Maria Rosario Saldua of the Malaybalay City Planning Office told Rappler.
Saldua said Flores was a kind and generous man who paid attention to everyone.
“He would greet security guards and sweepers, and I think he even knew the name of every city hall employee,” she said.
Flores first served as vice mayor of Malaybalay in 1992 until 2001. He was elected mayor in 2001 and served as the city’s chief executive until 2010.
He was then elected as representative of Bukidnon’s 2nd District in 2010 and served as a congressman until 2019. The same year, he returned as Malaybalay’s mayor.
Flores had filed his certificate of candidacy for reelection this May. – Rappler.com
Grace Cantal-Albasin is a Mindanao-based journalist and awardee of Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship