by Dr. Prospero E. de Vera
I would like to share the eulogy delivered by Senator Mar A. Roxas during the necrological services for the late Senator Sotero H. Laurel held at the Senate on September 7, 2009.
Eulogy for Sen. Sotero H. Laurel
Delivered by Sen. Mar A. Roxas during the Necrological Services for the late Sen. Sotero Laurel
We are convened to mourn Sotero H. Laurel, senator of the Republic, staunch nationalist, molder of our future through his work as educator. But before all these, I knew him as Uncle Teroy, husband to Tita Lorna, father of my classmate Peter, as well as to the brood – Jojo, Bobby, Chuck, Rick, Rina (who has passed away), Sallie, Mark and Ana, who all became my good friends through the years.
He was a true gentleman of the old school: decent, honest, with no stain upon his name.
I knew him then as a kind of renaissance man. For a father of a classmate, he was actually quite fun. I spent much time with his kids, and even joined them on some vacations. And I saw and sensed his love for his family, and his being a good guiding hand in their growing up.
He had a simple, unassuming presence in the midst of a passion for music and the arts. And despite his lofty education, he held no pretensions to either knowledge or power. I was always at home with him because he was accessible, ‘yung abot ba -- the kind of uncle who would encourage you and give you a sense of what was possible.
Beneath that deep reserve of love and warmth was a steely, principled leader. From time to time, he would counsel Peter and I about our country and our responsibility, our obligation for our being.
Uncle Teroy wielded his nationalism with unswerving and boundless determination. To my mind, he loved the Filipino people with genuine care and affection.
In fact, he spent the greater part of his life mentoring love of country to a whole generation. That is one of the reasons why the Lyceum of the Philippines became a bastion of nationalism, an institution that raised fierce fighters against the dictatorship.
And he did not only teach love of country, he walked the talk.
In 1991, he voted to abolish the US bases as part of the “Magnificent 12” who voted in this chamber, led by Senate President Salonga. That was five years after the 1986 EDSA revolution, when Uncle Teroy decided to leave the sanctuary of a quiet professional career and join all those who wanted to restore democracy and freedom in our country.
It is notable, and this information is from Sen. Rene Saguisag, he emailed me this information, that Senator Teroy died on September 16, the 18th anniversary of that vote on the Bases.
Few leaders have ever graced these halls who loved their country so much, who fought for it so passionately and who mentored the rising generations to do the same thing.
We have not really lost Uncle Teroy. He lives on in this chamber just as every historic moment that has taken place within these halls—when votes were cast or signatures were written for the cause of this, our great nation—against colonial rule, dictatorship, corruption and the abuse of power; and for a stronger economy, a better life for our people and pride in our blood and heritage.
For his family, let me say this: In my mind, Uncle Teroy has received the highest accolade one can give to a public servant. Indeed, at the end of my own public service career, I would like the same to be said of me: “Respetado siya. Disenteng tao. Hindi inabuso ang kapangyarihan. Nakatulong sa kanyang mga kababayan. Minahal ang Inang Bayan.”
We pray that he rest peacefully in the palm of the Almighty; and that by his legacy and example, we will always have a good yardstick of what it truly means to be an honest and decent Filipino.
Let me state my parting words for his family:
Be honored. Be proud of his name.
Si Uncle Teroy: Walang mantsa, walang bahid, disenteng tao.
Thank you and good afternoon.