Rep. Lorenzo “Erin” R. Tañada

10 August 2008

Club Filipino, Greenhills, San Juan

Magandang gabi sa ating lahat!

Sa ngalan ng buong pamilyang Tañada, taos puso po akong nagpapasalamat sa inyong pagpapaunlak sa aming paanyaya upang muling ipagdiwang at gunitaain ang kaarawan at naging buhay ni Senador Lorenzo M. Tañada, ang Tatay ng aking Tatay, ang aming Lolo. A man whose first and last name I carry and carry proudly but whose shoes are too large to fill. He would have been 110 years on this very day as old as Philippine Independence.

My role as the program indicates is to give the family response. At first, I objected to the idea because I was not the eldest grandchild. The honor should be reserved for Ate Karen, being the eldest grandchild, who has made Lolo proud in the struggle for freedom, nationalism and democracy during the Marcos Dictatorship. For the information of our guests I am the 14th grandchild. I am not saying that Lolo is not proud of all of his grandchildren. He is proud of ALL his grandchildren. I just believe that as the eldest grandchild, Ate Karen speaks for the third generation of Tañadas.

Since democrary is practiced in the Tañada family, the Events Committee voted that I be the one to speak. I had no “Garci” to call for a recount and so I accepted the task assigned to me. Now, I know how my Tatay Bobby feels when he is asked to speak in behalf of Lolo’s children.

Before I continue, I want to acknowledge all my cousins who worked hard to make this 110th commemoration of Lolo’s birthday a reality. This was not the idea of the children of Lolo and Lola. This was the idea of the third generation, the grandchildren. The second generation provided guidance, direction and the names of the people to invite.

For those who still are unaware, Lolo and Lola has 10 children. One died before she reached the age of one.

Of the remaining nine children who contributed to the growth in the Philippine population in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, six are present with us Lorenzo Jr. (Tito), my tatay Wigberto (Bobby), Ma. Elena (Myrna), Ma. Milagros (Millete), Ma. Anastacia (Tessie) and Leonardo (Learny). The three other siblings are with Lolo and Lola celebrating today. The nine children produced 47 grandchildren.

40 of the 47 grandchildren have their own families, which resulted in 87 great grandchildren.

It’s a good thing Population during Lolo’s time was not an issue and there was no Responsible Parenthood Bill filed in Congress or else 1/3 of the people we have today in this hall will not be around including myself.

But if there was a bill on Responsible Parenthood at the time Lolo married Lola, it still would not matter. The numbers will still be the same and maybe even more. Why you may ask will it not matter? It will not matter because the children of Lolo and Lola will unanimously declare that Lolo was hardworking, responsible, and was a good provider for his family. How did he achieve this? Aside from being a public servant by being a Senator, he was also a practicing lawyer and a Professor of law in UST, FEU and MLQU. But his being able to practice and teach law was not the secret why he was able to provide for his family. I will let you in on the secret why he was able to be a good provider for his family…Lolo was kuripot. I think some of the children and grandchildren have inherited this trait. I am one of them…

Seriously, as I stand here before you, my fondest memories of him quickly rushes through… not as the solicitor general who prosecuted the Japanese Collaborators…, nor the popular Senator who authored meaningful legislations… not as the Grand Old Man of the Opposition who united the political opposition against Marcos…, or the Grand Old Man of the Parliament of the Streets who led workers, farmers, students and other sectors of society in the fight for nationalism, democracy, human rights and good governance… much has already been said today about his public life by Senator Salonga, Senator Arroyo, Under Secretary Padilla and in the articles written in the past few days by Prof. Liling Briones, Jarius Bondoc, Randy David, Rina Jimenez-David, Prof. Ed Garcia and Joma Sison among others. I remember Lolo simply as Lolo Tanny, the family man with simple hopes and dreams for his children and grandchildren.

Children always look up to role models as they grow up and may I humbly say that I didn’t have to look far to find my own role model. As if on cue, my parents even named me after him, no less, and there he was during my growing and formative years – my Lolo.

What is the legacy he has left his family?

Prayerful… Lolo was a prayerful person. This was one of the values he inheritted from his parents specially his mother. He never forgets to pray the rosary and always carries a rosary in his pocket. A habbit that the children and grandchildren have picked up. As a matter of fact, Lolo Tanny and Lola Dading prayed the rosary together everyday with their children as a family. In our family, as I and my siblings were growing up, I remember that we would usually pray the rosary with Tatay and Nanay during our trips to Novaliches, Baguio and Tagaytay.

Love for his Family… It was the LOVE within the family that Lolo gained his strength from considering the kind of public servant Lolo was. He was not called the “Don Quijote – The Man from La Mancha” for nothing. The battles he fought in the Senate and those he fought in the “Parliament of the Streets” led to more defeats and frustrations than to victories. But when it came to raising a family and showing LOVE to Lola, his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren there is no doubt he was victorious. Lola and the family were the “wind beneath Lolo’s wings” that permitted him to soar to greater heights and dream for what he believed was best for the country.

Lolo expressed his LOVE for his family by having family time with them whether it was at their home in San Juan or later in New Manila or the picnics they had at Novaliches or the vacations at Baguio. Lolo and Lola’s LOVE for the family was further cemented when their children had their own respective families. Lolo and Lola made it a point to have reunions every other weekend in New Manila, Novaliches and later in Tagaytay. Baguio during the summer and after Christmas was a yearly sojourn and pilgrimage. It was specially fun for our generation because we all stayed in one house and had a room assigned for each family. It was one week of seeing Lolo and Lola and the cousins — playing and eating together. In Tagaytay, our generation all slept on the floor and Lolo had fun trying to make it to the desk in his study without stepping on any of his grandchildren only to find out that when he got safely to his desk there was still another cousin sleeping underneath.

Lolo loved his grandchildren and was very happy to have all of them around. He knew all our names and had a term of endearment whenever he kissed us — bunggoy for the males and bunggay for the females. Once he brought the young male cousins, including myself, to Cartimar to buy generic soccer shoes. He didn’t buy any of the famous brands so he could give the grandchildren who went with him. If he bought us branded soccer shoes like Nike or Adidas, maybe only one or two of the grandchildren would have gotten a pair because of the price he would have had to pay. This shows you that Lolo was not kuripot but smart.

Lolo also had his supply of rubber bands and candies ready to be distirbuted to all his apos everytime there was a reunion. In our young minds we could not understand the logic of the rubber bands but I believe Lolo was particularly more concerned with the event as a way of consolidating the family and renewing ties with family members and friends. Eventually, the grandchildren would learn that it was not the gifts that make the holidays meaningful but the bonding it creates among us brothers, sisters, cousins and other relatives. The family reunions is a meaningful practice that is very much alive in the family however simple it may be.

Lolo also recognized the accomplishments of all the apos whether in sports, academics or the arts by rewarding them with cash, or a book or treating them to ice cream .

But Lolo Tanny loved Lola Dading foremost amongst us. He can really be romantic with Lola especially when he teases her with a kiss in front of his children and grandchildren. Lolo makes it a point that when he gives his gifts to Lola, he makes sure that his children are around to witness the event. This is his way of expressing his undying affection and love to Lola Dading. And to us grandchildren, it was always a treat to see both Lolo and Lola with those endearing gestures. Mind you, when it comes to gifts for Lola, Lolo forgets that he is kuripot. He just makes sure that the store he buys his gifts from allows payment by installments.

This Love for Family to this date is very strong in the family as evidenced by this commemoration of his birthday spearheaded by his grandchildren, the third generation. This is why we cousins are very close to each other. It is the thread that weaves us Tañadas together no matter where we are or where we reside.

Lolo leads by example. Honesty and truthfullness were the core values he believed in. He consistently practiced what he preached as he is likewise one of the most self-disciplined persons I could ever have imagined. Managing his time being a Senator while at the same time being a law professor in two universities is quite a feat considering the demands he had on his time. But likewise, he saw to it that what he fed his big family came from honest, hard-earned money and not from the public coffers which he could have easy access to being a Senator of the Republic. As a matter of fact, he is the only Senator upon retiring who was recognized by his peers for returning accumulated unused allowances. His specie is now rare to find and probably extinct. We yearn that we may find even a little speck of his dust in the leaders of the government we have today were the word TONGPATS is unknown, not practiced and even never heard off.

Yes…Lolo is frugal, he believed in simple living. He defies expensive and lavish social norms. Lolo’s katipiran has permeated deeply within the clan, especially with my father and even myself when I too became a public servant.

A lot people mistook this as “kuripot” or parsimonious or simply — tight fisted. As a matter of fact in the last election, my oponnent called me kuripot because I only put P20 in envelopes handed to me for donations in the barangays I visited. I explained to my constituents that “Di bale nang kuripot, Huwag lang kurakot!” Part of being a public servant is to educate the people. There is a limit to what or how you can help and that it should always be within your means.

Just as we value our own hard-earned money, my Lolo even places a higher value of our people’s money. He believes that if the people’s money is spent, it should be accounted for judiciously. He disdained ostentatious living and abhorred graft and corruption.

Lolo, Tatay and I are constantly being compared with other politicians with huge wallets. But we would like to keep this part of Lolo’s trait with us because this would keep our feet constantly on the ground. After all, for Lolo, one should measure a politician by his willingness to serve the people, honestly and with selfless dedication, and not the size of his wallet.

Nationalism… His love for the country and his courage is of course known to us all. It need not anymore be expounded on since the speakers had already touched this subject matter.

They say that children stand on the shoulder of their parents and for that matter, their grandparents. For the Tañada legacy for which my grandfather built and for which my father and the rest of the clan continue to build on, I am thankful.

Lolo’s brilliance as a legislator cannot be replaced and perhaps cannot be matched by another Tañada – although, we hope someone will. But this is not what Lolo expects us to be. Inside and outside the political arena, he wants us to be our own person but never forgetting the core values and principles he stood for — prayerful life, honesty, nationalism, human rights, justice, democracy and good governance. These are what we the third generation re-affirm and commit to abide and live by.

Lolo Tanny has been gone for 16 years now but I know and feel he is still very much around us, in our minds, in our hearts and in the very passion by which we do our work in our own little way, in serving our people. Perhaps it is the main reason why we are all here together tonight. We love this country the way Ka Tanny loved it and dedicated his whole life for it.

As we end tonight’s celebration, permit me to share with you my own personal experiences with Lolo through a short lettter of gratitude I composed in my thoughts…

Dearest Lolo,

Your family, friends and admirers are gathered here to celebrate your 110th birth anniversary.

Thank you for opening my eyes to the Marcos Dictatorship at the young age of 13 by allowing me to read the Conjugal Dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos.

Thank you for allowing me to attend the rallies of LABAN at the young age of 14 whenever Tatay would accompany you.

Thank you for allowing me to speak to the leaders of LABAN in 1979 during the meeting at your home in New Manila on the importance of orgainizing a youth arm of LABAN.

Thank you for your wisdom and the speeches you delivered. It helped me understand more the problems the country was facing and the need for nationalism, freedom, democracy, human rights and good governance in solving these problems before 1986 and more so today.

Thank you for bringing me along to the different meetings with cause oriented groups. These meetings helped develop friendships that up today are continuing and unforgettable.

Thank you for the shared moments we had while I was working part time in the law office specially in 1988 when I was arrested speaking in front of the US Embassy against the US Bases. You remarked jokingly… “Lorenzo, Nakatikim ka na rin ng arresto..” I replied “Kasalanan po ninyo dahil kayo po naman ang nagmulat sa akin tungkol sa US Bases…” and we both laughed.

Thank you for your advice to always know and verify the facts because no one will be able to fool you if you have the facts in your fingertips.

Thank you for attending my graduation from law school in 1989. You surprised me and made me tear when I received my diploma and hugged you. You were already 91 years old and didn’t really have to attend. As a matter of fact, Tatay and Nanay did not attend because the ceremony would take at least 4 hours.

Thank you for the encouragement you gave me when I didn’t pass the bar exams the first and second time. You told me you knew that I would pass and become a lawyer. You told me to continue to have faith in the Lord and the Lord will not let me down.

Thank you most of all for being still alive when I did pass the bar. You had the biggest smile on your face when I visited you at your bedside to bring you the news. You were so happy and you called Lola to bring to you the envelope. I saw that the envelope was thick and my mind was already thinking maybe a thousand or even two or even three…I even remarked, Wow Lolo ang kapal ng envelope…!” You handed the envelope to me you told me to open and count the contents. It was not two, it was not three but five…five hundred pesos in P5 bills.

You left us three weeks after I passed the Bar and after you knew Tatay made it to the Senate for his second term. There are other stories to tell specially from my cousins. Those will be shared in the future with our children and their children.


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