Lawmakers, House staff honor ‘the wonderful life’ of Prospero Nograles

Mara Cepeda
Lawmakers, House staff honor ‘the wonderful life’ of Prospero Nograles
The closest friends and colleagues of the country's first Mindanaoan speaker remember his closeness to the House staff and his love for the song, 'What a Wonderful World'

MANILA, Philippines – Past and present legislators and longtime staff of the House of Representatives paid their tribute to the life and works of the late speaker Prospero Nograles Jr on Tuesday, May 7.  

Nograles’ closest friends, whom he went to school with and later became colleagues in the House, recalled their fondest memories of the first House speaker from Mindanao during the necrological service held in honor of Nograles at the Batasang Pambansa. 

Nograles died due to a lingering illness on May 4. He was 71 years old. (READ: Duterte visits former rival Prospero Nograles’ wake

Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo described Nograles as her “dear friend” of more than 50 years, having first met him during their teenage years. At the time, Nograles and Arroyo’s future husband Jose Miguel were classmates at the Ateneo de Manila University and, later, the Ateneo Law School.

All of the eulogists, including Arroyo, fondly remember Nograles as a man who loved to sing Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.” Nograles was also popular among the House staff as he had treated them like family.

Arroyo said Nograles sang this song when he attended the last reunion of their Ateneo college batch, which graduated in 1967. Their batch mates sang the same song when they visited Nograles’ wake on Monday night, May 6. 

“What I would like to tell Boy today is, yes, Boy, what a wonderful world you helped to create, with your friendship, with your work…. I will miss you,” said Arroyo.

“We thank you, Boy, for everything you’ve given our country, the people you worked with, and how you made their life a wonderful life because of what you meant to them,” she added.

The Speaker also said she believes God had given Nograles a “little postponement” of his death, just so the former Davao congressman would be the one to tell his daughter Migs that she passed the 2018 Bar exams.  

“You know two nights ago, in the Mass in the evening, the presiding priest said something about death cannot be postponed. But even as I was saying that, I was thinking, I think Boy was able to get a little postponement from the Lord so he could be the one to announce that Migs had [passed] the bar. Congratulations, Migs, and congratulations, Boy,” said Arroyo.

Migs was seen tearing up during this part of the Speaker’s speech.  

GOODBYE. Nograles' relatives and his pet Golden Retriever named Anna looks his casket ahead of the program.

Apart from Migs, in attendance during the necrological services were Nograles’ wife Rhodora, and their 3 other children: medical doctor Kristine Elizabeth, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, and Pwersa ng Bayaning Atleta Representative Jericho Nograles, who delivered the family’s response to the eulogies.

The family brought along Nograles’ pet Golden Retirever Anna. 

“It’s very difficult for me to contain my emotions, to share the happiness and honor, and the privilege to represent my father today. Thank you for honoring my father,” said an emotional Jericho.

“Us, as family members, are forever grateful to the Filipino people, to the employees of the House, to the members of the House, for giving him the honor and privilege to be able to serve you,” he added.

Here are excerpts from the 6 other eulogies for the late Mindanaoan House speaker: 

Former House secretary-general Marilyn Barua Yap: 

“He put the highest premium on performance. Legislators are, to him, best judged by their performance in office – so are the members of the staff. Indeed, he was a taskmaster as majority leader, but he always treated us, his staff, not only with affection and care, but with respect. He was attentive to our needs and concerns, even our personal problems. He listened to us – not only as legislative workers and professionals, but as human beings.” 

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, minority congressman during Nograles’ speakership

“Even if I found myself on the other side of the fence, he would always take my calls…. If there was ever a speaker who was a boy next door, that was Speaker Boy Nogie as his friends call him…. If makakapagsalita si Speaker now, he would be very thankful for the last two to 3 years. He would be very thankful seeing someone from Davao become president. He would be very proud that two of his children are very esteemed here in Congress, and Karlo is doing very, very well as CabSec.” 

Former Mandaluyong representative and House majority leader Neptali Gonzales II

“Nais kong alalahanin si Speaker Boy bilang is brod and bilang isang kaibigan. Kilala ko na si Speaker Boy bago pa siya maging congressman. Siya ay senior brod ko sa Aquila Legis fraternity. At para sa aming Aquilans, ang tawag namin sa kanya ay Boss Nogie. In fact, siya ang composer ng aming fraternity song…. I fondly remember that during our frat gatherings…si Boss Nogie ay isa sa mga pinakamaingay, pinaka-boisterous at jovial — the life of the party, so to speak. Nung nagsabog ang Diyos ng kayabangan sa mundo, medyo marami ang nakuha ni Boss Nogie.

“But don’t get me wrong. Hindi totoo mayabang si Boss Nogie, na mayabang na kaiinisan mo. In fact, he was a very kind-hearted person. Nakakatuwa ang yabang niya, which, more often than not, he used to brighten our fellowship…and make people laugh. And so during his stint as speaker of the 14th Congress, mahal na mahal siya ng secretariat ng aming House of Representatives.” 

Former Cavite 3rd district representative and now Governor Boying Remulla

“Anim na taon kaming nagsama sa ika-13 at ika-14 na Kongreso. Siya ang aming majority leader [at] ‘tinalaga niya kami sa committee on rules na para maging kapatid at mga sundalo sa plenary upang ipatupad ang aming adhikain na paglingkuran ang bansang Pilipinas.

“Mr Speaker, hindi ka namin malilimot. Kung saan ka man naroroon, salamat po. Salamat sa mga araw, linggo, buwan at pati na taon na ipinamahagi mo sa amin sa maikli mong buhay. Kasama kami sa mga naging pangarap mo. Kasama kami sa lungkot at ligaya, kabiguan at tagumpay.” 

San Juan City Representative Ronaldo Zamora:

“These are things that we remember about Speaker Nograles, things that will live longer than his term as speaker. He did all of these 3 things: planting a tree, having a son, writing a book – and he did more. He led [the passage of bills on] archipelagic baselines, on cheaper medicines, on senior citizens’ rights, on climate change – all improved the lives of the people…. Above all, he treated all members of Congress, majority and minority, with equal respect, fairness, and understanding.”

Former House speaker and now Quezon 4th District Representative Feliciano Belmonte Jr:

“By some twist of fate, I suceeded Boy as Speaker in 2010. It was a smooth transition, and I can only credit Boy’s gravitas for making that happen. Thank you, Boy. Your and Kaka’s leadership, and the support of the National Unity Party in the 15th and 16th Congresses, were vital to our many legislative successes here in the House.

“I know Boy lived a full life. He was a Bar topnotcher, successful lawyer, activist, public servant, and a dedicated family man. So devoted to his family, in fact, that even when many from our generation try to stay in power for as long as they can, Boy made sure that his children would beautifully and seamlessly transition into public life to take over and fill his shoes.” –

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at or tweet @maracepeda.