Michael loved life and lived it to the fullest. He did more in his short 27 years than most do in a full lifetime. He will be missed terribly by all those whose lives he touched.

Memories of Michael

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From: Marianne in Manila (August 2005)

After almost three weeks of attempting to finish this write up, I finally got the chance to complete last weekend while I was rendering overtime at the office. Looking back on those 3 weeks, everytime I started to hold my keyboard and type, I always felt something heavy in my heart which I was trying to fight. It was so hard but for a very special person, I exerted all efforts to go through it to finish this simple tribute for him.


Mike worked with us here in Manila for roughly 2 months only --- 3 weeks in person and the rest is thru email, IM and phone conversation. I remember he told us that he just celebrated his birthday on June 7 ---- 2 or 3 days before he flew over here. Very short time but my life has never been the same since then.

Over the phone, he sounded like a traditional old boss with thick glasses and big belly. On most conference calls, he would always have questions to throw and striking statements to say. With this, there was only a little excitement when we heard he was coming over to Manila.

First time I saw him was inside our conference room, he was standing with his laptop in front, both hands in each of his pockets. The room was filled with people but his voice was all over the place. At that point, he exuded a different level of self confidence and professionalism. I immediately asked around “ And who is this guy here?”, my coworker whispered, “It’s Mike Burke”. “Oh my gosh!”, that’s all I said. I never expected he would be so young, only 27, just as my age. My heart pounded with both excitement and nervousness knowing that I would be working closely with him.

Everyday after that, I would see him and we would work together for our project. The project that I’ve always believed was a result of his perseverance and hardwork. I’ve always told him that without his guidance, support, leadership and friendship, the project would not have kicked off successfully. He was a little shy with those compliments but he knew it was true.

From there I witnessed a very fine young man --- contrary to the impression that we had on him when we have not met him yet. Mike was very brilliant, very intelligent, very witty, very compassionate and very professional. We shared breakfasts and dinners together since most of the time, we worked for 12-15 hours everyday. He never forgets to ask me if I want something from Starbucks everytime he goes down to get his own cup ---- eventually he knew that the only thing I get from there was a Mocha Frappe and he never failed to bring one for me.

On weekends, we saw how he enjoyed life. When he closes his laptop and changes to his casual clothes, he certainly knows how to have fun. He went on scuba diving on his first weekend, the following week we went to the beach. I remembered how he laughed everytime I screamed and shouted when we were on the boat because according to him, very ironic for someone who came from a country with almost 7000 islands who was afraid of a boatride. But inspite of that, he made sure the lifevest was near me and I was sitting comfortably inside the boat. On his last weekend, we went out on 2 karaoke nights, he just loved to sing and dance. He has always been the life of the party. It was a different Mike that I saw --- the kind that plays, dances around. The kid in him showed up during those happy times.

One day before he came back to the US, I asked him if he would have the time to sit down and talk to me about something. He, of course readily agreed. It was a very hearted talk and he knew exactly what to say , how to say and when to say something. When I told him my concern, most striking statement I heard from him was “Marianne, I’ll cry if you go” with a very warm embrace. Those words played a very important piece on how I regarded him as a true hearted person. For someone whom I have worked with for very short a time to shed tears if I will go ---- I felt it was too much. Mike certainly knew how to give importance to people around him.

On his last day, we asked him to sit down and we presented our small gifts for him. I gave him a pair of lighter and keychain --- i just love seeing him smoke his cigar everytime we were out. It feels good now that we were able to capture him on video while opening that gift.

Saturday , July 22 , the day before he went on vacation, he was so connected to me thru IM as well as with some of my colleagues. I knew he had been into 4 states and 5 cities in 24 hours. I told him it must have been an exciting day ---- he contrasted and told me that it was not as fun and exciting as it sounded and I needed to trust him with it. I believed him, as I always did. I felt his excitement when he talked about his bike ride ( he even gave us the website) that he was so proud because he was going back to his hometown in IOWA, that he’ll be with his college friends. In the midst of his excitement, he still managed to ask me how I was doing ( in relation to what we have talked about before he went back to the US) and that I should be honest with him. That gesture of him was indeed very touching. That same day, he received a recognition from Accenture and was published. From the minute I saw it, I shot him an email congratulating him for a truly deserved award. He seemed surprised because my email contained all good words that I think was just best for him. ( I was so glad I did it!!!) He was very happy and emailed me back telling me “to always take care” and "to call me anytime if you want to talk about it". So sweet of him, I never thought that would be his last email.

The minute I was informed about what happened, a complete shock was all over me. I couldn’t believe something tragic happened to him. It then brought back all memories ---- may not be long a time but the quality of those was all that mattered. I don’t remember how much tears came out of my eyes but I believed no amount of tears can ever express my sadness in losing Mike.

In my own little way, I tried to give back to him all the good things he has done. On the exact time of his service, me and my team gathered together to say a little prayer and a little tribute to the man who have inspired us all, to the man who have became my friend, my inspiration and my short term mentor. It pains me so much to think that he has gone but deep inside my heart, I know that he is in a better place right now.

In my silent moments, I've been talking to him and pervently asking him to let me know he was hearing me out ------as he has always been to me. And I did not fail. Small things I see around reminds me that once in my life I was able to meet a great young man in Mike.

Through this, I’d like to thank Mr. and Mrs. Thomas and Bette Burke ---Sir and Ma’m; thank you for bringing up a wonderful man and for sending him to us. All that he has become is because of the loving parents that he has in both of you. His heart was overflowing with love and compassion because you filled it up with so much joy.

On this side of the earth, a bunch of people loves your son so dearly. His legacy will continue, his life will continue as we have all been inspired on how he lived his own. Through him, we’ve all realized that life is too short – that we need to live it to the fullest every minute. He will always be in our hearts and in our prayers.

Maraming salamat Mike! Mahal ka naming lahat!
(Thank you Mike! We all love you!)


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