What I saw this past week went way beyond professional courtesy. Despite my obviously skewed perspective in the matter, I can honestly that this does not happen for anybody, even among his peers. I can only imagine how farther family and friends across the globe, along with both UP Open University and UP Los Baños would have taken things had there not been a tightened lockdown looming over us. And for that, the Librero clan is eternally grateful.
What we refer to as the Librero clan is made up of the different families he had blood ties with. There is of course the Librero family itself. And then we have the Malupa and the Millan, then the Dinulos and Juanillas, and finally with the Garcia family. And on behalf of all these families, I would like to express our gratitude to everyone present here, as well as those who had wanted to be with us, but were unable to do so. I am also happy that most of the families considered to be part of the Librero clan are represented here today. My dad talked more about us to the people he worked with than he did to us about his work. Thanks to those who spoke, my family has heard first-hand accounts of his career achievements. I myself do not know all of it. I don’t think any single person does. He himself had probably forgotten a lot of them by the end of his life.
I do not remember to whom I should attribute this to… This was around 2004 or 2005. What I do remember is it was in Indonesia when my dad took me with him to attend a number of engagements across the country. It was in one of those dinners. He probably excused himself briefly to go to the toilet or something. And while he was away, someone referred to him one of the foremost experts in the field of development communication in the whole of Asia. Maybe some of his peers can, but me personally, I have never been in a position to judge for myself. But what I do know first hand is how he is treated by his peers. At home, he had always played host to people. Our house, whether it be that small apartment, or later on a larger house at Doña Aurora St. in UPLB to where I live now outside the campus, was constantly frequented by his friends, colleagues and students. Going with him in those overseas trips allowed me to see how things were the other way around. I remember that first time. It was 2001. I don’t remember being particularly excited about it, as it would’ve been an added strain to the family finances because of my mom’s medical bills. But it was she who convinced me to go. She told me it was high time I saw for myself how he was practically treated like a prince in other places. And true enough, right outside the airport’s arrival area in Bangkok was a former PhD student, himself already an accomplished university professor by then, waiting to pick us up and along with the rest of my dad’s other former Thai students, he made sure we were taken care of the whole time we were there. That tends to leave an impression on a young man realizing how little he knew about his own father outside his own household. And now, after hearing and reading all the tributes for themselves, I hope that the rest of my family are now having a similar realization of how well respected and loved my dad was, as I did back then.
I suppose the next question is where do we go from here. He did not really leave a lot of things hanging. When he retired, he could’ve said he’d already done everything he set out to do and nobody would’ve been able to argue. But there are a few things he along with his brother would probably want his family to do. For starters, we would like to put together all the tributes we have been showering on his name. He occasionally wrote on a journal, but not nearly enough to put together an autobiography. But all our words put together can perhaps be pieced together to come up with something close. He would also want us to find ways to continue helping students in any capacity we can. And that is what I would like to do. I would also welcome those who would be interested in joining me. But perhaps most importantly, he would want each and every one of us to continue the work he had started. And I am sure we will.