Monday, July 26, 2010



Yesterday I wrote that the eulogies for the late Sen. Raul Manglapus didn’t just extol one man’s life of public service, outstanding as it was, but also encapsulated the history of this country. It was this realization that made me decide, three weeks after his death, to cull some gems from those eulogies.

Asean Secretary General Rod Severino, who worked with Manglapus during his first senate term in 1962, recalled Manglapus contributions to the foreign service. Manglapus served as foreign undersecretary, the youngest ever, and then two times as secretary. As undersecretary from 1954 to 1957, he instituted the foreign affairs officers examination, which created a corps of career foreign service officers appointed on merit. This earned him the title of " Father of the Career FSO Corps."

Severino who denied having ghostwritten for his boss (" Raul always wrote his own speeches") pointed out that for half a century, Manglapus "spoke tirelessly to the world." The top Asean official noted that long before the debate over "Asean values," Raul already proclaimed that the Asian "was just capable of democracy; had culturally, as much affinity to democracy as anybody else, pointing to the democratic system of governance in the Philippine barangays well before the coming of Spain." His deep faith in the Filipino convinced him of his countrymen’s capacity to take the lead in regional endeavors. For instance, in the early ‘60s, long before the dawning of Asean and Apec, Manglapus already proposed a forum of statesmen from around the Pacific Rim to discuss regional security and economic integration.

As always, he was ahead of his time.

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Former Vice President Manny Pelaez had an interesting observation on Raul at the DFA. He noted that Raul saw his task as "preserving democracy through foreign policy". Elucidating on this idea, Manglapus recalled the response that the Spaniards gave when queried as to what kind of democracy they had, soon after which they recovered it in 1970. They replied that theirs was "a democracy sin adjectivos ( without adjectives)."In other words". not guided democracy or any arrangement with a democratic face but with secret levers being manipulated by a few," said Pelaez. It was Raul’s desire to spread this "democracy sin adjectivos", that promped him to call a meeting in Manila of 14 newly restored democracies, such as Nicaragua, Chile and Portugal in 1991.

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Manglapus, then in Switzerland on one of his trips to win world support for the cause of damocracy in the Philippines, was the first Filipino leader in exile to appear on Philippine television with Cory Aquino, who was then in Boston, within hours of Ninoy Aquino’s assassination in August 1983. The Aquino’s and the Manglapuses shared years of exile in the United States and after Cory became President, she tapped Raul as her foreign secretary following Vice President Doy Laurel’s resignation in 1988. At the funeral mass for Raul, Cory recalled that at the height of the 1989 failed coup attempt, he was among the first to go to her Arlegui residence to convince her to stay out of danger for the sake of the country. Cory also recalled how helpful he had been to her in everything, from the pronunciation of foreign words and names to tips on how to comfort herself during state visits. She also noted the great love and devotion Raul and Pacing had for each other.

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Pacing Manglapus, a socialite from the wealthy La ’O family of Manila, had to escape through the back door with their three sons to join her husband in the United States after Marcos declared martial law in 1972. She ran a day care center in Virginia during their long exile just to help out since Raul was hounded out of jobs and grants by a United states government that was extra-friendly to Marcos. Houseguests at the manglapus home found themselves helping out in pacing’s day care center. As senate minority leader Tito Guingona recalled in his stirring eulogy, life had been quite harsh for the Manglapuses in the united States. Guingona noted how Raul endured the loneliness of separation from his family in the early months of struggle against the Marcos dictatorship in the United States, often surviving only on soup and biscuits for lack of funds, "all for a united crusade for freedom".

Sern. Ramon Magsaysay Jr. recalled that he was 15 and a member of the students for Ramon Magsaysay Movement when he met Manglapus, who played an active role in his father’s presidential campaign. Raul composed the famous campaign jingle, " Mambo Magsaysay", whose memorable line was " our democracy will die kung wala si Magsaysay".

Jun Magsaysay was only one of scores of young people of several generations that fell under Manglapus influence and social reform vision. In 1962, Raul organized the work a year with the people movement (WAY), which enabled young idealists to get involved with socio-political work in the countryside. Among these who signed up for this service to the rural areas, aside from Jun Magsaysay, were Joey Ortiz, Jorge Lorded, Nanny Bachelor, Many Valdehuesa, Nooning Question and Bobby Franc.

There were also many others who later became prominent politicians. I only learned at the senate necrological rites for Rail that one of them was a young struggling news papering named Blase Opal, who left his job with the daily mirror, to join the Mainstays-for-president, recalled how he and other young people were awed by Rail’s mastery of words, spoken with the famous Arrneow accent that blended so well with his "classicist background and noble bearing and personality". To Ople, the only Atenean " who could hold a candle to Manglapus in languages and the arts was Jose Rizal," but then the latter "never had to run for public office."

After Raul and other young leaders founded the PPP following Magsaysay, Ople became its public information officer. That stint became his introduction to national politics with Raul as his mentor. Ka Blas acknowledged that subsequently "we followed separate ways politically " with him working closely with Marcos as his longtime resident ideologue and labor secretary, while Manglapus fought Marcos in the 1971 Constitutional Convention and Subsequently in exile. But Ople said he followed Raul’s political star with great interest.

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