by Dr. Prospero E. de Vera
This is the well written and deeply touching eulogy delivered by Senate Minority Leader Nene Pimentel during the Senate necrological service.
TEROY NO LONGER BELONGS TO THE LAURELS, HE IS THE PEOPLE'S OWN
By Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr.
September 17, 2009
I learned of Teroy's death on the plane home from Cambodia yesterday and even then my mind was swamped with images of my association with Teroy.
I met Teroy for the first time in my life when we were elected members of the Constitutional Convention in 1970-71.
Then he struck me as a pillar of the bloc in the Convention that supported the strong man rule of the president at the start of the work to revise the Constitution.
Towards the end, however, he proved me wrong as he strongly opposed the adoption of certain provisions of the proposed Constitution that would essentially justify the continuation of the dictatorial rule that was imposed in 1972. In about a year, the work of the Convention ended in 1973 - tragically in my opinion as it somehow propped up the authoritarian form of government installed a year before.
Not the End
Anyway, the happy thing about it was the fact that the end of the Constitutional Convention did not end Teroy's public life.
Teroy was a much more resilient man than the sum total of the coerced output of the Convention.
In the campaign against the dictatorship in 1985 with his brother, Doy, running as the vice presidential candidate of Cory, Teroy did his share in his usual wise, quiet, and efficient way to ensure the victory of the challengers. Cory and Doy won the presidency and the vice presidency.
There were talks of fraud on both sides that even the US President erroneously endorsed as true on the part of the opposition. In any case, people power put a decisive end to the issue and forced the authoritarian ruler to flee the country and paved the way for the installation of Cory and Doy as the president and vice president of the land.
Then in 1987 after the restoration of Congress, in the first senatorial race, as fate would have it, Teroy and I, happily landed as among the winners.
It was during our term in the Senate that Teroy became more visible to the people as he came out of the cocoon of his scholarly style of doing things that in my opinion enveloped his life as a worthy heir working in the shadow of outstanding legislators of the land who preceded his entry into the political arena.
No Rosy Path
As a son of the nationalist Senator Jose P. Laurel and a brother to the fiery Speaker of the House, Pepito Laurel and to the outstanding advocate of the rule of law, Senator Doy Laurel, Teroy unlike other scions of political families did not have the rosy road in politics cut out for him.
He did not content himself to bask in the glory of the achievements of the macho Laurel leaders in the political arena or in the other fields of diplomacy or sports.
He struck out on his path of hard work, of scholarly devotion to the minutiae of lawmaking and proved himself equal to the task of lawmakers and, perhaps, unconsciously he must have tried to equal, if not, better the great deeds at lawmaking or in public office of his own kith and kin. And he did.
In the Senate Teroy espoused unpopular causes that he believed were good for the country. He supported my proposal to have a logging ban for 25 years that was opposed by people who thought it was a bad idea. He backed up the Local Government Code that some thought would promote divisiveness among the people. He endorsed along with 11 of us the dismantling of the US military bases in the land. And opposed the sale or disposal of the Roppongi and other Philippine government properties in Japan as unconscionable proposals because those properties were paid to us in reparation of the atrocities committed against our people during the Japanese war and had become heirlooms of the nation.
Without my sensing it then, many of Teroy's advocacies coincided with mine.
Since I believe in the kinship of ideals over mere verbal assurances of fraternal respect, I say with all candor that I am humbled by my acquaintanceship that ultimately developed into friendship with a man who was every inch of him worthy of the title Senator of the Land, Sotero Teroy Laurel.
Of course, Teroy would not have been that good without the devoted and unwavering support of his wife, Lorna, and of their equally talented sons and daughters, and the Laurel clan which is justifiably well known for the love that unites many of the branches of their families even today.
Walking with Kings
As I end this talk, I would like to quote parts of Rudyard Kipling's "If".
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;
If you lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man
Kipling wrote the poem in 1896 or some 113 years ago. But when I revisited it this morning, it read as if it had been written for Teroy.
Yours is Our Country
My dear Teroy, yours is our country to which you gave your mind, heart and soul so full of peace, of understanding, of good will.
And, thus, you no longer belong to the Laurels. You are our people's. And we are proud of you.
God rest your soul, dear friend, even as we ask with Shakespeare, Whence comes such another?