POSTSCRIPT / January 22, 2013 / Tuesday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Doy’s selfless love relived in museum

OPENS SUNDAY: The Salvador H. Laurel Museum and Library built on a hill in San Pedro, Laguna, will be inaugurated on Sunday, the ninth death anniversary of the former vice president.

Celia Diaz-Laurel, the statesman’s widow, said: “We have tried to preserve for posterity not only Doy’s memory, but also his burning desire to inflame the youth with a selfless love of country.”

The museum’s inauguration in the family retreat in Holiday Hills, San Pedro, will start with a relaunch of Nick Joaquin’s “Doy Laurel in Profile” at 3 p.m. The collector’s edition was first published in 1985.

A 10-minute drive from the San Pedro exit on the South Luzon Expressway, the locale is a virtual tropical oasis planted to trees from Laurel’s native Batangas.

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HILLTOP RETREAT: In publishing the collector’s edition to mark the opening of the museum and library, Celia said:

“I thought of commemorating this National Artist’s loving tribute to Doy, because – each in his own way — they shared a fierce love of country which they showed in their chosen fields: Joaquin in literature and Doy in public service.”

She said: “This passionate love of country is evoked in every page of Joaquin’s biographical sketch of Doy. As he prepared to publish his own book of speeches later, Doy himself would write: ‘Since my childhood days, my father had always impressed upon me the importance of love for one’s country.’”

Doy was the fifth son of José P. Laurel, president of the second Philippine Republic. The family’s lineage spans generations of nationalists who distinguished themselves as public servants.

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SELFLESS LOVE: Featured in the hour-long museum tour is a historical documentary that Celia wrote and voiced: “From the roots of the first Laurel in the ancient kingdoms of the datus of Brunei all the way to his blossoming as a successful private lawyer, we see the Lord’s Guiding Hand.

“From Doy’s zeal to champion the cause of the poor and defenseless as a legal aid lawyer to his first public office as a senator, it was inevitable that he would fight all forms of injustice to preserve his people’s freedoms.

“In serving his country, Doy risked everything he had: his life and his family, even his lifelong hopes and dreams. We celebrate that selfless love today….

“In life as in death, Doy’s spirit soared high in his quest to inspire the youth to the noble task of loving our country…. It is our fervent hope his dream will live in the hearts of his people.”

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NOSTALGIA: One museum item of interest to me is his office in Mandaluyong City that was transplanted piece by careful piece to Holiday Hills. (The Laurel property on Shaw Blvd. has been bought by Sen. Manny Villar or his Nacionalista Party.)

We of the pre-martial rule Senate press corps always joined the Laurels at Shaw every Christmas. The party featured musical numbers by the talented Laurel brood. (I was then a political reporter of The Manila Times.)

Writer Winston Marbella reports: “For the museum tour, two grandsons put together audio-visual tributes to their grandfather: Javier Laurel Delgado a stirring documentary of Laurel’s heroism, ‘A Date with Destiny’; and Joaquin Sanz Laurel a high-tech digital audio-visual of Celia Laurel’s ‘The Saga of the First Laurel’ which traces the family’s roots to the ancient datus of Brunei.

“Each generation of Laurels figures prominently in history. Doy’s grandfather Sotero was minister of the interior of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo’s revolutionary government and helped write the Malolos Constitution. His father was president of the government during World War II.”

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LAUREL LEGACY: I got to know Doy up close only when he became senator in 1968, and he quickly impressed me as an authentic public servant and one willing to sacrifice personal ambition for the greater public good.

Nick Joaquin recalled his entry into the Senate: “On Nov. 17, 1967. the eve of his birthday, with 95 percent of the votes counted, it was clear that the people had overwhelmingly sent Doy Laurel to bring the cause of justice to the Senate.

“The new Congress opened on Jan. 22, 1968. It was one of his happiest days. This was where he wanted to be — in the hallowed halls where his father once stood to debate the burning issues of the day.

“On Jan. 27, five days after entering the Senate, he fulfilled his campaign promise: he filed seven bills to ensure the poor of speedy and inexpensive justice. Five of the bills were passed into law and are now known as the Laurel Justice for the Poor Laws.”

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SACRIFICE: The supreme political sacrifice was when he, as the opposition UNIDO’s standard bearer, stepped aside in favor of Cory Aquino in the 1985 “snap” elections that deposed Ferdinand Marcos. The rest, as they say, is history.

His daughter Suzie Laurel-Delgado recalls those fast-moving events that called for quick decisions:

“When tito Ninoy Aquino was assassinated on Aug. 21, 1983, my father was not afraid to voice his outrage at the murder of his childhood friend. When snap elections were held in 1985, he dared to take on the leadership of the UNIDO, whose 25,000-strong delegation elected him as presidential standard bearer.

“When he was asked by Cory Aquino to step down to the vice-presidential slot, it was a most difficult decision to make. Daddy hied away to our house in San Pedro to pray and ask for guidance.

“Just before he made that selfless decision which dismayed the family and his loyal followers, he told me, ‘That’s what papa would have done — it’s for the country.’”

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of January 22, 2013)

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