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Jovito Salonga, ‘true son of Pasig,’ buried amid hometown reverence

By: - Reporter / @jovicyeeINQ
/ 04:30 AM March 17, 2016
FINAL SALUTE Crowds gather around the flag-draped casket of former Senate president Jovito Salonga at Pasig City Cemetery, where the eminent lawmaker and statesman was buried on Wednesday.  LYN RILLON

FINAL SALUTE Crowds gather around the flag-draped casket of former Senate president Jovito Salonga at Pasig City Cemetery, where the eminent lawmaker and statesman was buried on Wednesday. LYN RILLON

FORMER Senate president Jovito Salonga was laid to rest on Wednesday in his native Pasig City, where the son of a market vendor and pastor grew up before becoming an accomplished lawyer, staunch critic of the Marcos dictatorship, and eminent statesman.

Salonga’s daughter, Victoria, personally thanked the hundreds who attended the interment at the Pasig City Cemetery, most of them common folk. Also present were local officials and national government figures like Budget Secretary Butch Abad, Transport Secretary Joseph Abaya and Commission on Human Rights Chair Jose Luis Martin Gascon.

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“He loved his country and he loved the Filipino people,” Victoria said of her father, who passed away March 10 at the age 95. “He never gave up on the belief that the Filipino people had it in them to build a just, lawful and progressive society.”

Salonga, she said, would  always be remembered as “that bright light in the long and painful struggle of a country to build a better society.”

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Born June 22, 1920, in San Miguel, Pasig, to Presbyterian pastor Esteban Salonga and vendor Bernardita Reyes, Jovito was the youngest in a brood of five. Despite his stature, Victoria said, her father wanted to be buried in Pasig because “this is where it all started for him.”

Rich in spirit

“Even though he was born to a simple family, he never thought he was poor because he was rich in spirit,” she added. “Pasig was always his home no matter where he traveled or lived in the world.”

The city government honored “the true son of Pasig” with pomp and ceremony. Flag-bearing students from Rizal High School and Sagad High School lined C. Raymundo Avenue as the funeral cortege went past coming from Loyola Memorial Chapels in Guadalupe, Makati City.

The former senator was entombed beside his wife Lydia, brother Serafin and sister-in-law Esther, in rites marked with a 21-gun salute.

Pasig Mayor Maribel Eusebio presented to the Salonga family a plaque bearing the city council resolution declaring March 10 as “Ka Jovito Salonga Day.”

“[We] convey our most profound gratitude [to his family] for sharing the life of this great man to the entire Filipino nation. We shall hold his incomparable achievements as a man of law, statesman and staunch nationalist close to our hearts,” Eusebio said. In his lifetime, (he) made sure that our humble city was put in the country’s political map with his exemplary work in public service.”

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The resolution honoring Salonga noted that despite his advanced age, he never faltered in his commitment to truth, justice and national renewal. The “temptation of power” couldn’t  shake his principle that a public office is a public trust, it added.

It noted that Salonga didn’t let poverty and incarceration stop him from getting a good education, and that he remained undaunted despite the “threat of political oblivion.”

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