This eulogy from Ninoy was written in New York, April 1982 – a few days after the death of Senator Gerry Roxas. Gerry was Mar’s father.
When a just man dies, lamentation and praise, sorrow and joy are one. When I was asked for a comment on Gerry’s passing, I could not find a better expression than that Gerry was a perfect gentleman. That he was a unique politician because in more than 40 years of association, I never heard Gerry saying a disparaging word about any man or a fellow man. I have always felt that I was the brother he never had and all the years that I remember of our relationship, we have always called each other ‘brod’. He was the guy [whom] when I was impetuous he was sober, when I was impulsive he was meditative, and when I cried for blood, he always cautioned me for peace.
Three weeks ago before I left for a long voyage, I saw him here in New York. There was no inkling of death. In fact, there was only a hope of a renewed meeting. He looked forward to the day in April when he, Jovy and I would meet and discuss how better we could plan for the freedom of our people. That last meeting of ours, in the privacy room, I poured my heart and I told him that I was beginning to lose all hope, that it appears that we are fighting a lost cause, fighting for a people that refuses to be freed, Gerry told me,
“No, brod… we cannot give up, not now.
You must continue as I must continue to fight
because we have been pampered by our people.
We have been elected to serve and in service we must give all.”
I remember those words because there are many, many, many times that I remember his advice.
In my seven years and seven months in prison, Gerry never failed to visit me at least once a month and it seems ironical now that I stand here because on two occasions when I went on a death pass and I was on the brink of death and then I was sentenced to the firing squad, Gerry visited me to give comfort and said:
“I do not know, brod, what will happen but rest assured that I will always be beside your family and friends.”
And so tonight, to this elder brother of mine, ironic as it might seem, I give him the pledge he gave me then: “I shall be the brother to his children and hopefully, the brother especially to his two sons.”
When Judy asked me to speak tonight, I retired and wrote this brief message to Gerry:
“The other night, when I returned from a voyage afar, they told me dear friend that you were dead. They brought me bitter news and bitter tears to shed. I wept and remembered how often you and I had tired the sun with talking and sent him down the sky. I wept and remembered the dreams we shared, the hopes we entertained for the people we cared, we pledged to serve. I wept and remembered the senate battle spoke, the victories we saw against the ruthless enemy we dared. I wept and remembered the solemn pact we made — ‘Better to lie in a grave than to be a slave.’”
My friend was a real man. In the nation of tongueless men, he dared to speak for the tortured, the oppressed, the unjustly imprisoned, and the weak. My friend was a son of a noble stock, sat in a tyrant aching milk that would not make him cry. Now, death has come, he taketh all away, but then his memories he cannot take away.
Long time ago, a poet read and I quote:
God give us a man a time like this demands:
Strong mind, great heart,
True faith and ready hands.
A man whom the lust of office does not kill.
A man whom the spoils of office cannot buy.
A man who possesses a principle and a will.
A man who will not lie.
Dear God, if you really love and care for the Filipino people, give us another Gerry.
And so as we lament tonight the passing of this true man, let us be consoled in our Christian faith that, as we bid him goodbye from the shore, there is the Father waiting for him across the great divide.