MANILA, Philippines – Called a patriot, an esteemed orator, and a brilliant lawyer, former Senate President Jovito Salonga left a legacy that would sear him in the country’s memory as one of the Philippines’ finest statesmen.
But Jovy, as he was fondly called, was more than the praises heaped on him, former Senate president Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr recalls. (READ: PH mourns death of ‘great Filipino’ Jovy Salonga)
“He was a human being – subject to the flights of optimism and to the depths of pessimism which ordinary mortals are heirs to,” he said in a statement issued after the death of the elder statesman on March 10. (READ: The life, love and struggles of Jovy Salonga)
The ties between the two go back years, when Pimentel ran as Salonga’s vice president in the 1992 elections, which both had lost.
Pimentel recalled how he saw both the optimistic and pessimistic side of the late senator, in scenes out of the media spotlight and the public eye.
In 1992, during a flight onboard a small plane going back to Manila from a political sortie in the Visayas, Pimentel recounted how Salonga tried to lighten the unease over the turbulent flight.
“As the plane was zigging-and-zagging through the dark clouds, I heard Jovy, who was seated in front of me, whistle a happy tune from one of Mozart’s famous concertos,” Pimentel said.
“Obviously, he was trying to make our spirits soar above the mortal concerns we had with our flight safety that was being threatened by the environmental turbulence buffeting our plane. And I believe that to some extent, he succeeded in calming down our apprehensions in that regard,” he added.
But he also saw another human side of the statesman: his disappointment and despondency, and how he bounced back from his troubles.
In Salonga’s home office in Pasig, Pimentel recalled how Salonga’s “shrunken shoulders” – injured from the Plaza Miranda bombing in 1971 – “shriveled even more” after he was told that some of his political allies had jumped ship.
“Happily, Jovy was not one to allow sorrow to cramp his active life of service to our people for long. Hence, after prayer, he bounced back and resumed his leadership role, although, no longer in the political arena, but in the wider and more challenging field of spreading the word of God as a layman,” Pimentel said.
“That was Jovy to me: an ordinary mortal whose head knocked at the clouds but whose feet were firmly planted on the ground.”
Salonga died on Thursday, March 10, at the age of 95. – Rappler.com