Thursday, June 7, 2007

My Seatmate...Senator Juan Flavier

Attending session is like going to class. We have a bell that rings reminding us that session is about to start…We start every Monday with a flag ceremony, every session day with a prayer. Right after that is attendance, when we are all scrambling to be on the floor to be sure we are not marked ABSENT or LATE.

Like the nerdy school girl I was, I sit in the front row, next to Senator Juan Flavier, on his side is the majority floor leader Kiko Pangilinan.


My seatmate is never absent nor late. He is always the first one there. When I arrive, he always greets me with a warm smile and in return, I give him a kiss on the cheek...


Then I sit down and he says “how are you young lady?”
And like a girl in need of a father, without further prompting, I pour my heart out to him, sharing the highs and lows, the joys and trials of my day.
He listens patiently, laughs heartily, shakes his head compassionately.

Today, my seatmate, along with some great men the senate has seen, Senate President Frank Drilon, Senator Jun Magsaysay and Senator Serge Osmena graduates from 12 years of serving the people in the Senate.

I will miss him so dearly. In many ways, he was the father of a girl who sorely missed her father. He was the mentor of a neophyte senator both in the political arena and in the legislative field. He was an attentive listener to her sometimes, nonsensical babbling.


He protected me from the naughty boys who sat in the back. You know how boys are. They have nothing better to do some days but joke about my breastfeeding bill or the color of my dress or hairclip. But that’s just the way they are. He would give them a stern look every now and then reminding them to stop bugging me.

When I confided in him about the frustration of dealing with certain groups who refused to see the other side of certain issues, he would say to me, “hayaan mo silang kumisay.” When I explained that some people are impossible to deal with because they expect me to adopt their entire position en toto, he says “sabihin mo, pwede nilang gawin yun, kung sila na ang senador.” Of course, only he could get away with saying that. But he always gave me the reassurance I needed to hear that after studying an issue, he trusted the decisions I reached and would always, as he did, support them.


One other thing I loved about him, we both dislike long circuitous speeches and debates. Sometimes debates would go on and on for days. I would tune in and out and at some point say to him, “the last I heard , ganito ganito ang pinagdedebatihan, may bago na bang pinag-uusapan?” And he would, say “wala, ganun pa rin, buti pa magmerienda ka na lang at growing girl ka pa.”

But close to my heart, of course, is when he shares his memories of my dad, his former colleague, the late Senator Rene “Companero” Cayetano.

Ayy, I feel so sad that my seatmate has graduated. Its like your best friend transferring to another school. You know you can still see her, you know you can have lunch dates anytime but it’s just not the same without him by your side (especially kung hindi marunong mag-text, email or ym).

To my seatmate…truly the Honorable Senator Juan Flavier, doctor to the barrios, senator of the Filipino people, it has been my pleasure and utmost privilege to work with you, laugh with you and share my life with you.



I know he will now be busy in the Mr. Bean Watchers Club, where his granddaughter Kia is the self appointed President, his grandson Pio is the Vice President, Migo, the Treasurer and he is …well, just a member. What does he say about that?

He says, “Who could ask for more?”



FN: I copied that Mr Bean story without his permission from his autobiography, “From Barrio to Senado.”

13 comments:

f. said...

what a beautiful tribute :)

ana5678 said...

That's just about the sweetest tribute I've ever read and Sen. Flavier truly deserves it.

Jaymie said...

Aaaaw, he's such a teddy bear.

I saw you posing for the pics above on tv last night. Just by looking at both of you, it's obvious that you have a special respect and understanding for each other. I'm sure he'll miss you just as much!

noemi said...

Aww that's was a heartwarming read. I miss my dad a lot and so I have a soft spot for men around the age of my dad (75 years old).

Nick said...

Senator Flavier has always been one of my most favorite public servants. In him I can see the true goodness that comes from the heart of a Filipino, the love he has for his country, and the passion he has to serve the good of The Filipino People.

The new Senate will also bring something new for you, as you welcome your brother, it is an exciting new day indeed...

banggigay said...

awww! you just confirmed to us how beautiful person sen.flavier is. i've always looked at him as someone as straight and sincere senator.

filipino people will surely miss him.

Candy said...

That was a sweet tribute indeed.Ü Very timely for Father's Day as well.

Keep up the good work (both in blogging and in the senate) Miss-Senator Pia.Ü

sasha said...

I shed a tear while reading this post. I will miss Senator Flavier too if I were in your shoes.

Sana ok pa rin ang seatmate mo :)

Jane said...

I have always liked Sen. Flavier. He is funny, practical, down to earth, honest and so fatherly.

This is a most beautiful tribute to him. If only there were more senators like him. He is truly a BIG little guy!

Bernadette said...

Thank you very much for such a wonderful tribute! From the very start, I really like the vibes of Senator Flavier. I read an article once about him and his quips and laughed with him. It is said that the truly wise have the courage not to take themselves so seriously. May the likes of the honorable Senator Flavier multiply a thousandfold!

Mariel Salvador said...

to read something very personal such as this and written by a senator, wow... i can just see my grandfather in him. =)

Anonymous said...

senator pia!

this was trully heartwarming!

two of my greatest influences in 1 blog.. you and senator flavier!

i was and still am a big fan of the DOCTOR TO THE BARRIOS! i too want to be a doctor to the barrios, senator flavier is such a great inspiration.

and you greatly inspire me..
you are a woman, a mom, a friend, a sister, a daughter and a senator.. and all these you do great.. no mediocrity!!

you are the epitome of woman of action and woman of courage!

both you and senator flavier give the senate a good name..
you guys make me feel that there is still hope for Philippine politics...


unlike every other politician on the mainstream TV who are SELF-SERVING thinking of you both gives true meaning to PUBLIC SERVANT..

keep up the wonderful work that you do! thank you Senator Pia! :)

-denise

Julie Ann said...

hi... im a fan of sen flavier too! since im still in grade school.. now im a nurse for 4 years,and i am taking community health nursing, datz because he influenced me a lot... actually m going to pose his pic in one of my slides presentation for my COPAR report..now..hehehe...

i never heard anything from him lately... :(