Tatang Louie. Mentor. Brother. A true friend.

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A Tribute to Tatang Louie By Rod Ngo, BCBP Southwest

Photo taken March 30, 2012 at the residence of Archbishop Jose S. Palma, with seated: Tatang Louie Morales Archbishop Palma, Nato Licayan. Standing Rod Ngo, Ed Lising (Boy Villanueva not in photo).

One Saturday I was tasked to take Louie Morales from the hotel to the breakfast venue. He was to be our regional breakfast sharer. That morning, I found him at a table with other hotel guests.

He had ordered a round of beer, leisurely getting acquainted with each one of his new-found friends. Tatang Louie was a past national president, yet he took on the most basic task of inviting first-timers. The group at his table ended up attending the BCBP breakfast that morning.

Every time he came to Cebu, he would stay and join my family. Not once did he feel like a stranger. To him there was no structure, no divide, no separation between people, no distinction of politics, religion, status, or age.

In 2012, we visited and met with Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma in his residence. Even with the bishop, Tatang Louie talked as he would to anyone of us. With the same imposing presence and hearty laughter. It wasn’t long before he became as integral to my family as he was to the community. I could talk with him about anything, maybe because he made no judgment of anyone. He would make others feel human and vulnerable and yet draw strength from his empathy.

In 2015, he flew in to Cebu to meet the visiting core members of the Jakarta mission. In 2018, I joined him in Kota Kinabalu, as he shared his testimony. I vividly remember the closing scripture in his life sharing. John 12:24 “ Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit”. How appropriate for this time of distress and pain for most of us, in remembering him and the legacy he has left. Louie was passionate, relentless, unstoppable.

In the midst of a business crisis, whose vortex I was swept into two years ago, he came unannounced, to visit me in Cebu. While many friends had steered clear, he was there. No fuss, no ceremony, he just appeared. He was there – for me. We talked lengthily, capped with the memorable moment of him praying over me in the chapel. Then we went for a bottle of beer.

Spanning more than 30 years of relentless mission work, his legacy is unprecedented and unmatched. Tatang Louie has left us with memories of his goodness, his concern for others packaged in good-natured and authentic laughter, his wild spirit tempered with meekness and humility, his deep faith in his creator.

Tatang Louie was a colorful man, and he leaves us with memories, multicolored and in high definition.

As I write this note, celebrating Tatang Louie’s life, my family and I, along with our mutual friends in Kota Kinabalu, pay our last respect to the man who not only shaped, but made my BCBP mission experience one of the happiest times of my life. And to Mother Lily and family, our heartfelt condolence.

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