By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Late former Speaker and Davao City Representative Prospero C. Nograles was remembered as the “wonderful Speaker of the House of the People” during a necrological service Tuesday attended by former and current lawmakers and House employees who filled the plenary hall of the House of Representatives with laughter and tears.
Nograles’ colleagues and employees recalled their enduring friendship with the first Mindanaoan House Speaker, recalling his commitment to work, devotion to family, and even his “kayabangan (arrogance)” being the “life of the party”.
Nograles, fondly called as “Boy” or “Nogie” by friends, passed away on May 4, Saturday peacefully, surrounded by his family. He “succumbed to respiratory failure, secondary to pneumonia,” according to his son, PBA Party-list Rep. Jericho Jonas Nograles,
During the memorial service, former Mandaluyong Rep. Neptali “Boyet” Gonzales II, described Nograles, who served as House Speaker from 2008 to 2010, as a “kind-hearted person” and “the life of the party”.
“Nung nagsabog ang Diyos ng kayabangan sa mundo, medyo marami-rami ang nakuha ni Boss Nogie. Gusto kasi nya gayahin si James Bond,” he said.
“But, don’t get me wrong hindi totoong mayabang si Boss Nogie na mayabang na kinaiinisan. In fact, he was a very kind-hearted person, nakakatuwa ang yabang nya, which he used to brighten and lighten our fellowship, promote camaraderie and make people laugh. Kaya during his stint of the 14th Congress, mahal na mahal sya ng ating Secretariat ng House of Representatives,” said Gonzales, who served as deputy majority leader and majority leader during the previous Congresses.
Former Speaker and Quezon City Rep. Feliciano Belmonte Jr. also honored Nograles whom he said, lived a full life.
“He was a bar topnotcher, successful lawyer, activist, public servant and a dedicated family man. So devoted to his family. In fact, that even when many from our generation try to stay in power for as along as they can, Boy made sure that his children would beautifully and seamlessly transition into public life to take over and fill his shoes,” he said.
Nograles’ wife, Rhodora Bendigo-Nograles, and children, Dr. Kristine Elizabeth Nograles-Hugo, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei Nograles, PBA Party-list Rep. Jericho Jonas Nograles, and recent bar passer Margarita Ignacia Nograles were present during the necrological service, including Nograles’ three-year-old Golden Retriever, Anna.
Former House secretary general Marilyn Barua-Yap broke down into tears while delivering her eulogy for the late former Speaker. “Speaker Nograles set out to transform the House into a House of the People,” she said.
According to her, under Nograles’ stewardship, the Lower Chamber underwent its first comprehensive restoration, rehabilitation and upgrading of its buildings and facilities in more than 30 years.
“For the first time—under his watch, the House had a clear legislative agenda per session with specific target dates for various stages of the processing of bills,” she noted.
She said during Nograles’ speakership, more than 500 laws were enacted, which include the Cheaper Medicines Act, New Charter of the UP, Magna Carta for Medium and Small Scale Enterprises, Renewable Energy Resources Act, Magna Carta of Women, Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act, Mindanao Development Authority Act and National Commission on Muslim Filipinos Act.
Barua-Yap expressed gratitude to Nograles for making her the first woman House secretary general.
“I thank him for the privilege of serving as secretary general of the House even after his term. He asked Speaker Belmonte to give me a chance to prove my worth. And if I would be found wanting, then Speaker Belmonte can put me to pasture, The rest is history,” she said.
“Even after I was retired as secretary general—he still looked after my welfare. He found me an office where my legal services were needed and where I could be sufficiently recompensed, I do not know what I did to deserve all he did,” teary-eyed Barua-Yap said.
Former Senator and Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano described as Nograles as “a natural mentor to many” and “a reformist” having the “most productive” speakership.
He recalled how Nograles “would pick up the phone to get things done” and call his Senate counterparts to fix things and ensure the passage of priority measures.
Among those who also delivered their eulogies to Nograles were Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, former Cavite Rep. and now Cavite Governor Crispin “Boying” Remulla, and San Juan City Rep. Ronaldo Zamora.
Nograles’ remains will be flown to Davao on Tuesday afternoon and will be laid to rest on May 12.
Nograles was elected speaker of the House on February 5, 2008, in the 14th Congress, during the time of Macapagal-Arroyo. He was then serving his fifth term as House Member, representing the first district of Davao City. Prior to his speakership, he was the House majority floor leader during the 13th Congress.
Born on October 30, 1947 in Davao City, he finished his primary and secondary education at the Ateneo de Davao. He obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1967 from the Ateneo de Manila University. He then pursued and finished his Bachelor of Laws degree from the Ateneo Law School in 1971.
Nograles placed second in the 1971 bar examinations.
Nograles was elected to five terms as Member of the House of Representatives, which spanned a total of 15 years. His congressional stint covered the 8th Congress (1989 to 1992), 10th Congress (1995 to 1998), 12th Congress (2001 to 2004), 13th Congress (2004 to 2007), and 14th Congress (2007 to 2010).
A human rights lawyer, Nograles was active in the political opposition during the Marcos administration and engaged in the litigation of human rights cases during the martial law years. He was also actively involved in the campaign of Corazon Aquino during the 1986 snap presidential polls.