Dr. Corazon Lamug was perhaps the sociology professor we were most proud of when I took up the BA Sociology program at the College of Arts and Sciences of University of the Philippines at Los Banos.
Ma’am Lamug wasn’t a “terror”. But nobody doubted her competence and expertise. We were never surprised that a sociology professor, no less than Dr. Lamug, was later appointed associate dean and eventually dean of CAS. She never demanded respect; she commanded it and the people gave it to her unquestioningly for she earned it every single day.
As a sociology student, I was so happy that Ma’am Lamug became Dean Lamug and went on to oversee a college predominated by natural, biological, chemical, physical and mathematical sciences. It was a testament her prestige and standing in the university and this reflected well on the the BA Sociology program of which she was part of. With her stint as college dean, Dr. Lamug put a period on insinuations that sociology students were second-class members of the CAS studentry.
I was among the countless students who wanted Ma’am Lamug to be their faculty adviser and we all know why. We want an adviser who’s academic credentials are beyond reproach but maintains a listening ear and thoughtfulness despite all her work and the many hats she wore. She maintained the respectful distance between students and herself as professor/adviser/administration, but would always know when to bridge the divide by listening and not just hearing out her students.
On Monday, Sept. 29, we were all shocked upon hearing the news that our dear Ma’am Lamug passed away due to an accident while snorkeling off the shores of Coron, Palawan. She was 62. We were shocked by the news but we were not surprised by the circumstances.
A true-blue sociologist and president (1992-1996 and 2008-2010) of the Philippine Sociological Society, we may guess that Dr. Lamug took a dive in Coron not just to personally enjoy the underwater scenery. We can be sure she wanted to know and experience first-hand the sights while snorkeling, which a growing number of Filipinos, tourists and expats now enjoy. This may have impressed her as a legitimate social phenomenon that deserves study and so Dr. Lamug took a dive.
All sociology majors and graduates of UPLB who one way or another came under her tutelage and advisorship, all those who benefitted from her stint as CAS dean, the whole UPLB community and the national and international sociological societies will surely miss her. I do.
Farewell and take your well-deserved rest, Ma’am Lamug. Your place in history and in our hearts is already secure.
According to resident members of the UPLB Sociology Society, the body of Ma’am Lamug was set to arrive last night at St. Therese Chapel, UPLB, where she will lie in state until Thursday. Her remains will then be transferred to La Union for burial.
UPDATE via email from Prof. Pam Custodio:
[I have here the statement – verbatim – prepared by Dr. Daylinda Cabanilla on her account of that fateful Sunday morning about the death of Dr. Cora Lamug. This statement has been posted by the hall entrance at St. Therese Resurrection Chapels.]
In hindsight, always, everything takes on a deeper meaning. I am writing this so tht I will not have to retell and re-live the tragedy.
Cora was obsessed about going to Coron. I was not -primarily because I do not relish riding on small planes, especially during bad weather. To make sure that I would accompany her, Cora bought my ticket last May. It was her treat because she received several cash “rewards”. On the day of our departure, weather was bad. Our Seair 19-seater plane was only the one that was able to land in Coron that day, after a 2-hour delay. Other planes couldn’t land and had to return to Manila. Surprisingly, our flight was ok.
We spent Saturday walking around the small island despite the rain. We met with the NGO that Pahinungod works with. Cora had arranged with Pahinungod that we would do some cursory observation of some potential projects. The next day, Sunday, was sunny, clam day. We had decided earlier that if the weather was fine we would join a group of 8 fellow tourists, mostly foreigners, to share a banca for the island-hopping package. Cora was very impatient that morning because the boat that we had contracted was late. I was even suggesting that we postpone the island-hopping for the next day and go to the hot springs instead. Finally, a replacement boat with 2 boatmen arrived at about 10:00 a.m. and we proceeded to our first stop, Siete Pecados islands. Our boat was met with a smaller boat with a boatman assigned to patrol. We anchored, wore our life vests, snorkels and masks. The water was cold, a bit deep, but there was a lot of fish so we all jumped into the water. I felt cold and anxious so, when the boatman advised us to feed the fish bread, I climbed back aboard tha banca, and began to feed the fish. True enough the fish swarmed near us. Cora said that her granddaughter, Camille, liked the sensation of fish nibbling her fingers when they were in Boracay (this was the last conversation we had).
Soon, everyone (or so I thought) was back on the boat, chatting, and I remarked that, since everyone was back, it was time to move to the next stop. One tourist observed that Cora was not yet back. We looked at the sea, we could see her life vest a bit far from us. The boatman said we wouldn’t worry because he had met her halfway and she had even waved. The patrol boatman raced to where Cora was, and we could see from afar that he couldn’t raise Cora’s body from the water to the boat. Immediately, the German tourist trained in first aid and one of our boatmen started swimming towards the smaller boat. There was a current so it took them about 10 minutes to get to Cora. The three of them couldn’t raise Cora’s body (it was heavy with water already) so another tourist swam to help. Once Cora’s body was on the boat, the German started CPR. Cora had no pulse anymore but he didn’t stop until we were back on shore. Immediately we raced to the small hospital on a tricycle. The attempts to resuscitate her were all in vain. She was pronounced dead on arrival.
Cora died on a beautiful day in a beautiful place she had always wanted to visit. What a beautiful death. What a meangful life. What a wonderful person.