Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sen. Mar Roxas on Sen. Sotero "Teroy" Laurel

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.


  1. I am just curious whenever eulogies are given to memorialize a person. Because all my life that I have been attending funeral wakes, it is almost always that kindest of words fly in the air to and fro if not kind. I do not wish to refer to the late Senator Laurel for I barely know about his career and his person. It just leads me to generally wonder how the atmosphere in a funeral wake would be like if someone exposes the worst misgiving of the deceased. Is that disrespecting a dead man? Or just another way of reminding us that human beings as we are, we are prone to and not spared from imperfections. FRS

  2. Ha ha...i agree with you 1,000%. I've never liked a lot of wakes especially when these are punctuated by eulogies that praise the departed to high heavens when in fact everyone knows that the one talking was actually the deceased enemy or bad mouthed him when he was still living..

    What made the Teroy necro service in the Senate special I guess is that only 5 people delivered eulogies - former Senator serge osmena, Sen. Pimentel, Sen. Roxas, Sen. Enrile and Sen. Zubiri. Of these 5 two were his colleagues (Pimentel and Enrile) and both gave first hand accounts of their common work in the Senate. Sen. Osmena talked as the grandson of the late President Osmena who took in Teroy as his personal assistant in Washington DC during World War II when nobody wanted to help the Laurels coz their father was the President of the Japanese-sponsored republic. Teroy had to drive a taxi in new york to earn a living while doing graduate work.

    Sen. Roxas is very close to the family, particularly the eldest Peter Laurel (who served as Finance officer when I was Chief of Research of Teroy's senate office). Only Zubiri's eulogy sounded out of place, coz he was not close to the family, didn't fight any battles with Teroy, and couldn't give any personal reflections. I guess Zubiri just wanted to speak as Majority leader..he heh..

    I was asked by the family to deliver my eulogy during the last night at Heritage Park but couldn't make it due to another commitment. All those who delivered eulogies were asked by the family to give one.

    It would be best if someone would hear all of these while they are still alive. I go for testimonials when one retires, leaves office (like termed out legislators), or reaches a milestone. I have delivered one when Senator Pimentel (who I have worked with for 12 years now) celebrated his birthday the other year. I thought that was much better.

  3. Well, by and large, I am not totally against eulogies. However I must be honest with you that listening to them have continuedly sent me grappling with the idea. Because early on, you have predicted what will come out of a deliverer's mouth: the best child [and the most obedient, which has become a by-word] to his parents, the best friend, the best employee and the most assiduous, the most reliable confidant, the bravest, the most principled, and I can go on and on. I mean, all these can be related to the way we observe All Souls Day: we tend the finest candles, lay the loveliest flowers, and mutter the sincerest prayers while tears fall to the epitaph. But all for what? And for whom? For an unresponsive corpse rotting six feet under? It just doesn't make sense sir. You are right. Admonitions will be most appreciated and should be at firsthand given to the living and not to the dead. Thanks for reading. FRS

  4. *Words of praise will be most appreciated and should be at firsthand given to the living and not to the dead. FRS


    Good morning sir. I am raising this subject matter in submission to your keen expertise. We are very much aware that the 2010 presidential election is looming just around the corner. Many president wanna-bees have already made their presence felt by coming out with press releases of their intentions to be the next tenant of Malacanyang. These individuals come from various fields of discipline and expertise. But what really mounts curiosity among major people groups on this forthcoming political exercise is the revitalized re-entry of Bro. Eddie C. Villanueva to the royal battleground. Which leads me to therefore ask - does the Philippines need a politician at this catastrophic times in our history, or, a character who may lack public service portfolio to his credit, but could be a catalyst to bring back moral decency in government? I would be elated to get an answer. Thank you very much sir. God bless you. FRS

  6. does the Philippines need a politician at this catastrophic times *of our history - FRS

  7. at *these catastrophic times of our history - FRS