NOTE: THIS STORY WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE BOHOL CHRONICLE’S SUNDAY PRINT EDITION.
Death came like a thief in the night as Dr. Lilia Ancog-Balite, better-half of former Vice Governor Atty. Dionisio Balite and co-founder of the BIT-IC system schools succumbed last Thursday, October 14.
She was 79 and survived by 6 children, 22 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren.
She was brought to the hospital last Sunday, October 10 for abdominal pain but tested positive for COVID later. Her condition rapidly worsened until her weak and frail body gave up.
As her children gathered strength to cope with the situation and mounted immediate preparations for her burial, her husband took it all calmly and strongly amid pain and sadness.
“I need to be strong for all the members of the family,” Atty. Balite was quoted as saying.
She was interred at 10:30 in the evening of Thursday at the Victoria Memorial Park, in compliance to BIATF protocol.
From the hospital, her remains passed near her house along Borja Street, then to the school campus in Gallares Street, then to the Dao campus and proceeded right away to the burial site.
As the night burial rites in Tagbilaran transpired, all the BIT-IC schools in Jagna, Carmen and Talibon were lighted for the evening, including the BIT-IC schools in Siquijor and Butuan City, a fitting tribute for the demise of the school matriarch.
OUTPOURING OF GRIEF
Close friends and relatives took the sad news in stride as they immediately extended their condolences thru the social media.
In a recorded message, Governor Art Yap said that, “Akong kinasing-kasing nga pahasubo sa kinatibuk-ang Balite Family sa kalit nga pagtaliwan ni Mam Lilia Balite, ang asawa ni Kanhi Bise Gobernador Dioning Balite ug inahan ni Senior Board Member Victor Balite. Daghan ang natabangan ni Mam Lilia sa panahon nga siya pa ang nagdala sa BIT. Her acts of kindness will not be forgotten by many. Ako, uban sa akong pamilya ug sa Provincial Government of Bohol, mopaabot sa among kinasing-kasing nga pahasubo ug nakigduyog sa ilang kasub-anan. Eternal rest grant unto Mam Lilia, Oh Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her.”
Congressman Kristine Alexie Tutor (Bohol 3rd District) said that her family joined the BIT-IC in mourning over the passing of Lilia Balite.
Tutor’s FB page said, “Our prayers for the eternal rest of Ma’am Lilia Balite, wife of former Vice Gov. Dionisio Balite, and the founding mother of BIT- IC. My family and I would like to convey our deepest condolences to the whole Balite family. Rest in Peace Ma’am Lilia.”
Congressman Edgar Chatto (Bohol 1st District) also shared the grief when he said, “Atong kinasing-kasing nga mga pahasubo ngadto ni Nong Dioning Balite ug sa iyang tibook banay sa pagpanaw ni Nang Lilia Balite. May our prayers comfort your family in this difficult time. May her soul rest in God’s loving embrace.”
Congressman Aris Aumentado (Bohol 2nd District) also extended his condolences when he said “When we lose a loved one here on earth, we gain an angel in heaven that watches over us. May you take comfort in knowing that you have an angel to watch over you now. We extend our most sincere condolences to the Balite Family. Rest in peace Dr. Lilia Ancog-Balite.”
Vice Governor Rene Relampagos likewise said, “My family and I would like to express our sincere condolences to Senior Board Member, Dionisio Victor Balite, former Vice Governor Dionisio Balite, and the entire Balite family for the passing of Ma’am Lilia. May the Lord’s love and comfort fill the void that Ma’am Lilia will be leaving as she rests easy in God’s loving embrace. Again, our family’s prayers and condolences.”
City Mayor John Geesnell Yap and other city officials also extended their condolences.
The faculty and staff and students of the 6 BIT-IC schools also expressed sadness and grief over the death of Dr. Lilia Ancog-Balite and held masses and offered prayers for her eternal repose.
The members of the family also welcomed the outpouring of support from friends and relatives as they expressed sadness that nightly prayers and novenas are held with limited attendance only, following protocols.
Meanwhile, Senior Board Member Dionisio Victor Balite said that those who want to visit the grave of his mother may do so at the Victoria Memorial Park at their convenient time. (with a report from Ric V. Obedencio)