House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin G. Romualdez on Wednesday night acknowledged his late chief of staff Rachel Rodeles Santiago for the success of his political career in the past decade, describing her as the ‘solid rock’ of his office with a big and compassionate heart for those who are in need.
“I had a fantastic and successful life in public service in the past decade, I owe it to Rachel’s leadership and contributions. She was always there for me and for all of us,” Romualdez said in his eulogy during the necrological services Wednesday night arranged by his office and Tingog party-list Rep. Yedda Marie K. Romualdez at the Loyola Memorial Chapels and Crematorium in Quezon City.
Rachel, a caring wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, and chief of staff, left this world peacefully on August 3 at age 43. She is survived by her husband Edmar; children Kayden, 7, and Francesca Rae, 5; mother Enriqueta; sister Zeny; brothers Fr. Eric, Rogyruel, Reginald, Rodel, Roland, and Reynante.
“My life as Majority Leader has been much better, successful and we get the job done because of Rachel’s efficiency and fashion to serve the people,” Romualdez recalled. “She was best chief of staff I could I ever ask for or I have.”
“Rachel, we all love you, paalam!” he said.
“The vacuum she left behind will never be filled by one particular person, but I know that she would like us to unite and work together in the same spirit that she shared with us this past decade,” Romualdez added.
Rep. Yedda, who visited the wake of Rachel, expressed her profound condolences to the family and friends of Rachel.
“We extend our condolences and sympathies to the bereaved family of our chief of staff Rachel. We wish that the outpouring of love and support will somehow bring consolation, strength, and peace to Edmar and other members of the family during this painful time.
“We know that no words can remove the sorrow in this very sad moment, and we weep the agony of such loss. You will be included in our prayers Rachel, and may God give you eternal rest,” she said.
Some other people who spoke during the necrological services to honor the life of Rachel were Jude Acidre, chief of staff of Rep. Yedda and national president of Junior Chamber International (JCI) Philippines; Court of Appeals Associate Justice Butch Corpin Jr., and Tingog party-list President Glenn Capucion.
RACHEL LOVES HER FAMILY VERY MUCH
Romualdez assured Rachel’s family that his team will always be there for them like what the late chief of staff had showed in treating her staff with extraordinary kindness and like a family to her.
He said Rachel left a good legacy and a strong positive impact on the lives of their staff.
“She loved you so much Edmar (Rachel’s husband) and the family. Please don’t ever forget that you and the family, the kids are number one to her and we, your extended family, will make sure that you are okay so please rest assured of that, you are secured in our embrace as Rachel has embraced us all without condition,” Romualdez said.
Romualdez told his senior staff, particularly Sofonias “Ponyong” Gabonada, to be strong following the untimely passing of Rachel who generously took care of people around her no matter how big or small.
“I told Ponyong that we have to be strong. Edmar, I told you also that we have to be strong because that she would want us to be that way.
She was always very strong for us no matter what we face. She was a solid rock, and you know that, but a very smooth one,” Romualdez said.
“We are still in shock, we are still at a lost, and we can’t still believe that Rachel has gone ahead of us. We only find peace and solace in the thought that she is with our Lord, the Creator,” the House Majority Leader said.
“She has done more than what one can imagine during a lifetime, I am a living testimony to that,” he added.
WORDS OF COMFORT AND SYMPATHY POUR IN
Romualdez said the best part of his last 24 hours since the passing of Rachael last Tuesday was the messages of grief, gratitude, and farewell that he had received from friends, including people from Upsilon Sigma Phi, Cornell University Alumni, Manila Rotary Club and even high-profile public officials in the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of government.
“Rachel developed such wonderful relationships with so many people and my family as well. I had just left Congress (Wednesday night) and no less than the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Speaker Lord Allan Velasco extended his profound condolences. Cabinet secretaries are also so sad,” Romualdez said.
“Countless congressmen, including Pido Garbin [of Ako Bicol party-list] and Edgar Sarmiento [of Samar] have expressed not only condolences, but actually really, really heartfelt messages of sorrow.”
“They are all shocked and they can’t believe that she has gone,” he lamented, adding that some politicians who condoled for the sudden passing of Rachel include former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Quezon City Rep. Mike Defensor, Zamboanga Sibugay Rep. Wilter “Sharky” Wee Palma II, senior Deputy Majority Leader and Cavite Rep. Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla, Deputy Majority Leaders Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo of Pampanga and Xavier Jesus “XJ” Romualdo of Camiguin and Deputy Speaker and Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero “Butch” Pichay Jr.
“The better part of the last 24 hours was looking at my cellphones. I have seen and besieged with countless and unprecedented messages of shock, surprise, dismay, and sadness,” Romualdez said.
“Everyone has been sending messages condoling with us and extending their sympathies to the family,” he said.
“But one message rang and that was the loss of the most wonderful person, the most beautiful person who served with a heart, a heart that is so big for other people,” the Leyte House leader added.
RACHEL A BORN LEADER, LET US NOT FAIL HER
Romualdez said Rachel had kept things together for all of them being the true leader of his team and a go-to girl who was always there to help.
“She united us all in her very, very kind way. She has this manner of always smiling, always happy, always cheerful amidst stress, adversities, and even seemingly insurmountable problems,” Romualdez said. “These I believe inspired all of us.”
“She never turned down anyone. She received everyone with so much openness, helpfulness and that was true love for the job and for the service. It was her passion that resonates forever,” the House leader said.
“Rachel truly made us to be better persons. Now that she is gone, let us not fail her in trying to achieve what she wanted for all of us to be better persons, our families, and the service to the people,” Romualdez added.
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