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EULOGY: Papa, thank you for all the life lessons you taught us

(Eulogy delivered by Maria Lourdes Diaz Johanson on 6 September 2019 at the Luksang Parangal for Patricio P. Diaz, at the Presidential Chapel of the Cosmopolitan Memorial Chapels in General Santos City. Johanson is the eldest among Diaz’ nine children).  

Good evening! On behalf of our family, we thank you all for being with us today. We thank everyone who has come to pay their last respects to our father for the past eight days. It has been such a gift to hear about the impact he has had on many of you. Clearly he is loved by the community at large whom he served almost all his entire adult life.

Knowing Papa’s preference for keeping things succinct, focused, thoughtful, and truthful, I’d like to focus my eulogy tonight on the family man that Papa was. Before I begin, I’d like to refer you to a beautiful article written by Carol Arguillas of MindaNews which came out on August 29 on mindanews.com. It’s a beautiful account of Papa’s life as a journalist and chronicler of Mindanao history. Thank you, Carol.

Patricio P. Diaz was a son, husband, father (Papa), grandfather (Lolo), great-grandfather, and uncle (Uncle Esiong), a teacher, journalist, and mentor, and a beloved child of God.

Papa was a man who thought of others first and himself last. He was a pillar to Lolo, Lola, our uncles and aunties. To his children, he was our Papa.

Papa was born to Segundo and Rosario Diaz on August 25, 1926 in Cabauatan, Iloilo. He was the second of nine children (eight surviving). His family migrated to General Santos City when he was 13 years old, in December 1939.

In 1952, he moved to Cotabato City where he put down roots and established himself as a teacher and journalist. It was in Cotabato City where he met his future wife, Lucila Caayaman. Mama can fill you in with all the details of their love story, but back then I suppose there was no rule that prevented a college professor from pursuing a student. Long story short, they were married on December 30, 1962 in Mama’s hometown of Talisayan in Misamis Oriental.

Nine months later, I was born! The following year, 1964, Pat Jr. was born. Then in 1965, Sr. Teresa, 1966, Boyet; then a break of a year. In 1968, Girlie was born, followed by Anivic in 1969. In 1970, our 3rd brother was still-born at 7 months; we called him Baby Boy. Dolly came in 1971, closely followed by Carmela in 1972. Finally, three years later, in 1975, came Frances, our youngest. Obviously, the family grew rather quickly within a span of 12 years!

Papa and Mama would have been married 57 years by December 30th of this year. Their marriage was truly a vocation, dedicating themselves fully to each other in sickness and in health, until death. Their children are the gifts of their partnership.

If you ask each one of us about what Papa meant to us individually, I’m sure that you would get nine slightly different answers. However, I’m quite certain that the one unifying common thread is Papa’s unconditional love for all of us. He was selfless, forgiving, and patient. He was gentle with his words, always encouraging, his presence providing a quiet, steady and reliable support. Judgment-free and never intrusive.

Papa firmly believed in the importance of education for himself, for his brothers and sisters, and later on for his children. Because of the war, he started high school late, at the age of 20.

According to our Auntie Hermie, Papa lived in the attic of Mindanao Cross along with other working students when he started working there, in order to support the three younger sisters through college. Later on, when he had his family, he worked two full-time jobs, and this allowed him, along with Mama’s income from piano lessons, to provide all of his children with a good education.

Papa taught us early on about what it took to live a purposeful and meaningful life. I was still in elementary when I first heard Papa talk about hard work and discipline. He said to me that while it was his and Mama’s responsibility to provide us with a good education and opportunities to develop our God-given talents and potentials to the fullest, it was our responsibility to work hard and be disciplined in our undertakings. He said that when we were ready, we would then give back to our community through our work and service. Try explaining that to a 9- or 10-year old child!

Papa encouraged us to be curious. He encouraged us to use our intellect, to think. He encouraged us to read literature, newspapers, and any reading material of value to develop our minds and imagination.

Another valuable gift that Papa gave us was his sense of humor. I’d like to believe that one of the reasons he lived for so long was because he knew when to lighten up and find humor in challenging situations. I will miss his child-like laugher, punctuated by, “Well!”

Lastly, I believe the most important gift Papa gave us was his faith. He wrote letters to his children who were away for college. He closed his letters with the same line Have faith in Divine Providence. His faith was his source of strength. He always told us to “be strong; have faith in Divine Providence.”

I’d like to close my eulogy with the last three lines from a poem that Papa gave me when I was 11-years old. It is called “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost.

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

Papa, thank you for all the life lessons you taught us by example through the way you lived your life, always in service to others. We love you.

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