Meek and humble of heart

MANILA, Philippines–Last Aug. 17, Patricio A. Garcia, lawyer, CPA and director-treasurer of the Philippine Daily Inquirer was laid to rest. In tribute to a close friend who helped nurture, quietly but strategically, this newspaper to where it is today, I would like to reproduce my eulogy for him at the St. James Church in Ayala Alabang, Muntinlupa. I began with a quote from the Good Book, thus:

Biblical verse. “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden light.”

This quotation I just read is taken from Matthew, Chapter 11, Verses 28 to 30. Whenever I reminisce about our beloved Pat, I am always reminded of these words of our Lord Jesus Christ. I am especially touched by the phrase “meek and humble of heart” because it describes exactly what Pat was, meek and humble of heart.

I met Pat, along with Ben Pangilinan, when they were both introduced to me by the late Mars Quimson in 1987. As legal counsel to their “Excel Group,” I was ushered by Pat, Ben and Mars to the Philippine Daily Inquirer and to Marixi and Alex Prieto. They all enticed me to become, even for only a short while, president of the most widely read broadsheet in the country, thus fulfilling my impossible dream (of heading the largest circulated daily) as a poor boy hawking newspapers in the streets of Sampaloc, Manila in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Our business and professional relationship ended in 1995 when I joined the Supreme Court. However, our personal friendship endured, especially in the golf course. But whether in business or at leisure, Pat was gentle, genteel, considerate and always fair.

I do not imply however that he was docile or easygoing. Quite the contrary. While tolerant of opposing opinions and ready to hear contrary suggestions gracefully, he was resolute in his convictions and very diligent at work. What is more, he did not have an exaggerated opinion of himself; in fact, he preferred to keep a low profile and actually felt uneasy when publicly acclaimed.

Loving and kind. While never boastful or proud, Pat always spoke highly and lovingly of his wife, Cora, and of their children Mike, Chris, Patrick and Nicky who predeceased him. He was especially enamored of his lovely grandchildren Bea, Andrea and Lia. Truly, he genuinely glowed with paternal pride whenever I asked him or made kumusta about his children and grandchildren.

In our conversations, he never used unnecessary rhetoric or highfalutin words; much less did he convince by arm-twisting, badgering or backslapping. His modest and unassuming ways (so uncharacteristic of many fellow lawyers) were the very qualities that projected his personality and credibility. So very appropriate to describe him is our Lord’s teaching that “whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matt 23:12)

In our more than 20 years of friendship, I have never heard him erupt in anger or use foul language. His words were always measured and calculated to express accurately his thoughts with hardly any criticism or faultfinding.

Indeed, he did not render people speechless by bombastic oratory or melodramatic utterances. Neither was he vindictive or pretentious. His eloquence was demonstrated quietly but effectively by his actions, which were consistent and dependable. More than bare words, it was his body language, facial expression and gesticulation, manner of walking, grin and smile that communicated how he felt and thought.

He was easy to get along with because he had no hidden agenda, no vile motives and no secret grudges. As the saying goes, what you see is what you get with Pat.

Compassionate and caring. To his friends, he was loyal, compassionate and caring. Whenever they had problems, he helped them by every means and manner available to him, neither counting the cost nor expecting anything in return.

In April 1996, he heard that I was tentatively diagnosed with blocked heart arteries. Without my asking him, he voluntarily scheduled a visit for me with his cousin, the eminent heart surgeon, Dr. Jorge Garcia. Fortunately, my angiogram later showed that I did not need any heart by-pass surgery. But I was very grateful to him for being so thoughtful and caring in arranging not only the best medical attention but also for being very concerned for my health and wellness.

In 2004, he caused the publication by Print Town (a sister company of the Inquirer) of my book “Leveling the Playing Field” and personally took care of its distribution and sale. In less than a year, it was sold out.

Today, as we say adieu to Pat, I do not worry. True, like all of you, I feel sad for I will miss him. But I am certain that he is now with our Father in heaven, enjoying the promise of our Lord Jesus Christ in John 14:1-4, “Let not your hearts be troubled. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself; so that where I am, you also shall be.”

May I repeat the Lord’s promise, “Where I am, you also shall be.” As I bid farewell to Pat—who like our Lord was meek and humble of heart—I say so with the happy confidence that where the Lord is, Pat also shall be, in the dwelling place prepared for him by our Lord in heaven. Amen.

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