MANILA The House of Representatives on Tuesday paid its last respects to the late Speaker Prospero Nograles, who passed away on Saturday at the age of 71.
A requiem Mass was held at the House Plenary Hall, which was immediately followed by eulogies delivered by Nograles' close friends and former colleagues.
Former House secretary-general, lawyer Marilyn Yap, described Nograles as her friend, her boss, her captain, her leader and her most beloved Speaker.
She recounted how she first met Nograles in the 13th Congress he as Majority leader and she as then head of the secretariat of the Committee on Rules.
I have served many Majority leaders before him, but he was, by far, the most methodical, the most hardworking. He was driven to achieve as much as he can no matter how limited the time, Yap said.
He was the first to initiate continuing coordination with the majority leader of the Senate and the senate Committee on Rules in order to harmonize House and Senate legislative targets, she added.
She also recounted the many firsts in House history achieved during Nograles' Speakership.
Besides being the first Mindanaoan to hold the post, Nograles was also the only House member to ever occupy the three most important leadership positions in the House chair of the Committee on Rules, head of the House contingent in the Commission on Appointments, and the Speakership.
As Speaker, he set out to transform the House into a House of the people, Yap said.
She said under Nograles' stewardship, the House underwent its first comprehensive restoration, rehabilitation and upgrading of its buildings and facilities in more than 30 years to transform the House into a dignified edifice befitting the stature of a national legislature.
Nograles also instituted far-reaching institutional reforms to improve legislative performance.
In the barely two-and-a-half years of his Speakership, Congress achieved record-high numbers in legislation passed with more than 500 laws enacted, including several landmark laws," Yap said.
These included the Cheaper Medicines Act, the Magna Carta for medium and Small-Scale Enterprises, the Renewable Energy Resources Act, the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act, the Magna Carta for Women, the Climate Change Act, the Mindanao Development Authority Act, and the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos Act.
Nograles also rationalized the selection, hiring and promotion of House Secretariat members for it to become an efficient and competent corps of legislative support providers.
He was also the first Speaker to enable service directors to travel out of the country and visit other legislatures to widen their horizons.
I can go on forever but I will never say enough to capture all that he was in this House and all that he did for this institution and the secretariat, Yap said.
It was also Nograles who made Yap the Secretary-General, the first woman to hold the position something that Yap will forever be grateful and would never ever forget.
I hope I did not disappoint you Sir Boy. I pray I was able to meet your expectations, Yap said.
You made me believe I can do more than I ever thought I could to fly as high as I can imagine. I owe my wings to you Sir, I owe you who and what I am today, she added.
Meanwhile, former Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. acknowledged that Nograles lived a full life having been a bar topnotcher, successful lawyer, activist, public servant, and a dedicated family man.
Belmonte said among Nograles' many accomplishments, the most single admirable thing he has done was to ensure that the Nograles legacy remains intact, not only in Davao City and Mindanao, but in his beloved Philippines.
The Nograles name will always be etched in history as one of the strongest Mindanao families, with Boy as trailblazer and patriarch. Truly, Boy Nogie's legacy of public service will live on, he said.
I now bid farewell to a Statesman and a public servant and give him a staunch salute for a life well lived. It was a privilege to witness his dedicated service to the Filipino people. I am sure Boy left us happy and at peace, Belmonte said.
Meanwhile, former House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II expressed his deep sense of loss (on) the passing of a friend, colleague and peer.
The Mandaluyong City lawmaker said he had known Nograles even before they both became lawmakers.
He said the late Speaker was his senior fraternity brother in the Aquila Legis Fraternity and was known by his frat brothers as Boss Nogie.
During frat gatherings, Boss Nogie was one of the most boisterous and jovial, the life of the party so to speak, Gonzales said.
He also fondly recalled how the late Speaker loved to sing Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World".
He liked to sing a lot and made a lot of kwento (stories) and advice. That may also be the reason why he was the composer of our fraternity song, Gonzales said.
He said Nograles may come across other people as mayabang (arrogant), but the real Nograles is a very kind-hearted person.
In a very endearing way, si Boss Nogie ay 'mayabang' pero (but) super mabait (kind), caring, masarap at maaasahang kaibigan, naglingkod at nagmahal sa bayan (a very good and dependable friend who served and loved his country), Gonzales said.
On the other hand, Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo recounted how Nograles was a dear friend for more than 50 years, and thanked the late Speaker for his enduring friendship.
She also recalled the late Speaker's penchant to sing "What a Wonderful World", which speaks so much of the life he lived.
I would like to thank Boy today. Yes, Boy what a wonderful world you helped to create with your friendship, with your work and I believe that even us, your family, the House of Representatives and the secretariat will miss you, the former president said.
We thank you Boy for everything you've given our country, the people you worked with, and how you made their life a wonderful life because of what you meant to them, Arroyo said. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency