"What this Country needs is not a change OF men but a change IN men" March 1980

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Transcript of Eulogy for Senator Robert Z. Barbers

Mr. Senate President, Mrs. Barbers, members of the family, my fellow Senators and Congressmen, public officials, my fellow citizens, magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat.

I just got a text this morning from a friend and it quoted Father Pio’s words, and he spoke about a prayer and he says: “O Lord, leave my past to your mercy, my present to your love, my future to your providence.”

Today, we honor a man who you will hear from many of the speakers this morning was a policeman, a member of Congress, a member of the Cabinet, and given the best gift from our people, elected nationally as a Senator. But when you look at Bobby Barbers today, and I really cannot claim to know him that well, I only met him very well during the campaign, you can say all these things.

But in reality, when you look at the corpse of Bobby Barbers, he was focused, he was driven, he knew what he wanted in life and he was going to fight for it. He wanted to change our country’s peace and order and he worked very hard to make sure that we have an Anti-Drug law, and he lived by the code.

As a policeman, he was a policeman par excellence. He tried of course to become a lawyer. You know, I heard Senator Alvarez speak about the fact that they are fraternity brothers in the University of the Philippines, Alpha Phi Beta. And let me tell you the stories that I heard of Bobby Barbers said during the campaign was simply that he was, as Sonny Alvarez said, rambunctious. He was always fighting. And when he got dismissed from the University, if I may say that here without any rancor because I think all of us tumble, here was a man who was willing to stand up and rise amidst the diversity, amidst the setbacks and he would prove to be an example not only to his family, but to his people.

At times, we are always so niggard in terms of appreciation of effort in this country. And today, I think we should talk about the effort of Bobby Barbers. He was at ivy league and he did not even get an attorney-at-law title. This is a country that seeks title all the time.

I often say, we have 49,000 lawyers who want to be called attorney, atorni sa probinsiya and yet we have no justice. But Bobby Barbers may not have been a lawyer as certified by the bar, but he crossed his bar. He crossed his bar by his effort at peace and order. He crossed his bar by his effort at helping me create a People’s Law Enforcement Board(PLEB) during his time.

I can tell you that my wife spoke very highly of Bobby Barbers because my wife was in Congress with him. And I remember my wife telling me the story that when they were together in a Camp Aguinaldo ceremony or I think, it was Camp Crame, Kate was going to receive an award, Bobby Barbers whispered to her and he said, “Kate, I am being considered to become Secretary of Local Government.” And Kate said “A, seguradong makukuha mo ‘yan.” And right then and there when Kate said that, in a few minutes, there was a call and Kate said, “Ayan na.” And indeed when Bobby Barbers came back, he was smiling sheepishly and he said,” Nagbibig anghel ka. In fact, I have been invited by President Ramos to become Secretary of Interior and Local Government.”

Years later, Kate would be asked by Bobby Barbers to represent the country in the UNESCO Peace Prize. She was picked by Bobby Barbers among the many mayors and sabi ni Kate, “Baka hindi ako manalo d’yan,” because it was the first award. But Bobby Barbers had faith, and Kate --thanks to Bobby Barbers--was selected as the first woman, the first Filipino and the first awardees among five of the UNESCO for Mayors for Peace Prize.

Bobby Barbers had an uncanny feeling about events that are going to come. And indeed, Bobby always made sure that he was a devotee of the Sto. Nino. When I was at the wake the other day at Forbes, I was talking with Beth Dela Fuente, mother-in-law ni Dean, at ang sabi ni Beth, “Napakagaling naman pumanaw ni Bobby, He chose the birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ.” He was a long devotee and in fact, some people were saying that, “Ang hirap naman n’yan pag Pasko pa namatay ang isang tao,”

But in reality, I think that was Bobby Barbers choosing at that particular moment to be with the Lord and Master, the baby Jesus the Sto. Nino. He was a Sto. Nino de Pulisya. He was not a parak. He was a Sto. Nino de Pulisya. He lived by the Code. He lived by the example of our Lord Jesus Christ. And so, sabi ni Beth Dela Fuente, “Napakagandang pagkakataon na sa birthday nang ating Panginoon, kasama niya si Bobby.”And in fact, that is the case. Going through the New Year, and of course, this is a long wake for the family but I suppose Virgie is so proud of Bobby as well as the children—Dean, Ace, Lyndon and Mary Grace, who by the way is inaanak ni Kate. And I can tell that everywhere Bobby went, there were hordes of people in Surigao and now back, look at here in the Senate. We have a full Senate today. We have a full crowd in the gallery because he was a man of the people. He was a man who served the people. He was a man for others. He was not a policeman with the title called Colonel Barbers. He was a man who was going to keep the peace and make sure that people felt safe in their homes, that our children will not have to be exposed to drugs, and that they would not have to be exposed to crime such as gambling.

Bobby Barbers indeed served his Master well. And that is all, I suppose, that the Lord expects us to do—to be the best in whatever field we have chosen and that is the way God expects us, I suppose, and Bobby Barbers knew that.

And so today, as we go on this ceremony here of eulogies, a lot of things will be said but I think the core of Bobby Barbers was his devotion to service - his effort. Never
Mind the titles. Never mind the plaudits, but in reality, he was a man who knew who he was. Virgie told me that up to the last minute, Bobby did not want to go. He kept saying, “Tulungan mo ako para marami pa akong gagawin sa ating bansa,” Always it was the Bansa. Always it was the honor and privilege of service to our people. All of us will try to live by that example, hopefully, because that is what it is all about. It is not about power to Bobby because indeed he had the power over peace and order. He had the power of law behind him. But in reality, Bobby always sought to serve. Sabi nga ni Senator Sotto “servant leader”.

So, today, Bobby who went to Lyceum for Law School after he was cast into exterior darkness because of his wayward days when he was young. Hindi ba pagka bata tayo we tend to be wayward? But he picked up very fast. He stumbled. He stood up. He took law in Lyceum. He became a great policeman. He became a great Congressman, a great Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government and a great Senator of the Republic. Above all, he was a great father and husband, father who had the privilege of knowing his sons and his daughter. And let me tell you that I think the future is safe for the Barbers name because of the sons he has raised.

So, today, he did not take the bar but he crossed the bar. And then he culled from Alfred Lord Tennyson:

Sunset and evening star, And one clear call for me.
And may there be no moaning of the bar, when I put out to sea.

But such a tide as moving seems asleep
Too full for sound and foam
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell And after that the dark
And may there be no sadness of farewell

When I embark for thou from out our bourns of time and place
The flood may bear me far
I hope to see my pilot face to face, when I have cross the bar.

Today, Bobby Barbers crosses the bar proudly.

Thank you very much.


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