In praise of Romulo J. Gracia, Jr. (1945-2010)

Posted: May 20, 2010 in Eulogies

Allow me once more to use this space to blog about family–particularly of a brother-in-law who passed away last 9 May 2010.

I delivered this eulogy in his honor last 15 May 2010. I am sharing this with my readers and implore for prayers for his soul’s eternal repose.


He was a good man. He was a caring one.  He was an honest and humble man.

These qualities have been extolled by others before.  However, let me pay my personal tribute to Manong Molito, my esteemed brother-in-law and fellow public servant.

Within the extended family, Manong Molito was a godfather to us, especially after the death of our parents. He was most happy when we were gathered together indulging in our favourite activity—eating humongous amounts of food and exchanging the juiciest bits of chismis.  Of course, most of the time, siya ang taya.  He will make sure that the most succulent foods would be served on the table.  This especially in the beach house in Paratong, Santa Lucia, Ilocos Sur.

He was especially solicitous to me, probably because I married his favorite sister residing in the Philippines (the only other one is a New Yorker). He would make sure every time I visit that my favourite sinigang and dinengdeng were properly heated for my delectation.

He is a man driven by thoughts of serving the people of his beloved town, Santa Lucia.  When he was contemplating on a political career in 1992, I gave him whatever advice I could give him.  Ultimately, however, he actually did not need my advice much because his native intelligence, knowledge of local conditions and current events, mastery of appropriate laws (such as the Local Government Code), and intimate ties with the people were enough not only to enable him to win elections but also to serve his post well.

He served as councilor for two terms, vice mayor for almost a term, and assumed the mayoralty after the incumbent mayor was assassinated allegedly by operatives of the New People’s Army (NPA) while on a campaign sortie in May 2001.  Unfortunately, he was unsuccessful in his bid for a full term as town mayor.

He then told me that he would have demonstrated to his town-mates what new and good governance would look like if he was given the chance.

Yet even as he was no longer an elected official, people still came to him and he tried to help to the best of his abilities. Up to his dying days.

He was a humble person.  Though born to one of the most prominent families of Santa Lucia, he did have the airs of an aristocrat (even if one can say he had the K).  He dealt with anybody, high or low, on an equal basis.

He had dreams and high hope for his beloved Santa Lucia—a town to be blessed with good governance, responsible citizens, a prosperous economy, and a bright future for its children and grandchildren.

A town united despite occasional divisions during elections.

A town determined to improve itself largely through its own efforts, intelligence, and creativity.

We will miss Manong Molito.  But Manong will not want us to be sad with his passing away because he was basically a happy person.  For this reason, he concealed his illness from us and agreed only to consult with physicians when the pains of cancer were just too unbearable.

Manong would want us to celebrate life and to look forward for the good things that life will bring us in the future.

Manong Molito, bon voyage and say hello to our relatives and friends and Big Bro up there.


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