Yelly Writes

Emmanuel Libre Osorio

© Riki Sandalo

Carlos P Romulo personally asked him to join his team when Mr Romulo was appointed head of the Department of Education.  Mr Romulo even sent someone to where they lived in Frisco to invite him to join him in government.  Larry Henares called him an Islamic scholar.  He was a proponent of the Ninth Ray campaign to introduce a ninth ray on the sun on the Philippine flag that sought to recognise the contribution to Philippine history and sovereignty by our Muslim brothers.  He was highly regarded in the UP community and was well known as a poet, a writer, a scholar and a brilliant mind.  He was a proud Filipino.

He was a political organism.  He ran in circles with the great political thinkers and political personalities.  I grew up with him saying he met with this person, or had coffee with that, and then I’d read the name in the newspapers.  I know very little of his political involvement, only that he once ran for public office in Toledo, in Cebu.  He didn’t win the election, but I have no doubt that had he been successful, he would have served with all his heart, only thinking of what was best for the constituents he served.  He helped set up livelihood programs in various locations in the Philippines to help his countrymen improve their lives.  He spent his years advocating Mindanao Muslims so that they were represented and respected as valuable, integral parts of the Philippine society, and not viewed as schismatic or separationists.

But to us, his nephews and nieces, he was simply Uncle Wawell.  The uncle who wanted the best for his family.  To me, especially, he was Koji.  When I was little, he was the uncle who visited me and played with me.  He allowed me to call him Koji because that was the name of the character he played in my dress up games.  He even suffered a busted lip once because we played jump rope and my head hit his chin and he bit his lip.  He was in pain, I’m sure, but he said he was okay.

I think he taught all of us how to play chess. I remember him telling me when I was looking at what piece to move that I needed to think, be strategic and plan.  Little did I know he was trying to equip me for life.  He was telling me that it was necessary to plan and to know where you wanted to go, what result you wanted to achieve and to consider carefully how you planned to get there.  He loved his lists of things to do and enjoyed word games, particularly a good crossword puzzle.  He loved a good chat and a cup of coffee, and he could talk about anything under the sun.  He was brilliant like that.  He believed in his nephews and nieces.  He was our biggest fan and our biggest defender.  He was someone who was always there if you needed to talk.  He tried to give us everything we wanted, if he could.  When he found out that I needed a portable typewriter for school projects, he just appeared at Don Jose one day with typewriter in hand…just because I needed one.  He was like that.  He once said that he would do everything to support his nieces and nephews, because he wanted us to realise our potential to make up for him not living up to the promise of his own potential.  He loved us, in the way that he loved his brothers and sisters, deeply and completely.

Antonio Porchia said that “one lives in the hope of becoming a memory.”  On Friday morning, I received the heartbreaking news that my Uncle Wawell passed away.  Koji is no longer physically with us.  I will never hear him laugh or clear his throat, or hear him call his sisters Fems, Gards, Binggay or Jinks, which always made me smile.  But he is with God and he is whole, healthy and no longer in discomfort. He said once to me that he never lived up to the promise of his potential.  Oh but he did!  He has contributed to everyone’s lives in more ways than he can imagine.  He has made the lives of a multitude of people better.  He has made his family feel valued, supported and important.  His memory will live on through his family, his nieces and nephews and their children, and the people whose lives he touched.

We love you Koji.  We are proud to call you our Uncle Wawell.  You are remembered with pride and love.

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6 thoughts on “Emmanuel Libre Osorio”

  1. I just read this when I googled for Emanuel Osorio. So, am I right that it has been just a little more than a year now that Wawel moved on to the pearly gates? Did he die peacefully, without any struggle? I was teaching in AIM when we met last. It was a surprise visit. He was meeting another professor, and he saw my name on the faculty room door right beside that professor’s room ( the professor he was meeting). It was a pity that before we could catch up with each other, the Dean called me for an impromptu meeting with a foreign professor-visitor. It was supposed to be a brief meeting – a greet and go thing. So I asked Wawel if he could wait and we can catch-up over lunch. But the meeting took longer than we thought. It was good that there was a break for lunch at half past twelve so I begged leave. But Wawell was not in my office room anymore. He left a cellphone number and a landline number but when I called they kept ringing or had busy signals. I tried to call him for three consecutive days. He told me he was actually meeting the professor next office room but was happily surprised to find my office room right beside her room — and with me engrossed in writing down something on yellow pad. It reminded him of how I looked when I was still a child engrossed in painting , he said. That was the first time we met after twenty-plus years. We planned to meet again as he had began to share his plans to run for Mayor in Toledo. He invited me to join him in his campaign in Toledo in a few days and I wanted to, but I couldn’t get out of my teaching here and abroad and “dean”-ing in AIM at that time. He won. We planned for me to bring my elective class students there, and we went as far as checking out the costs of air travel, but that never materialized. Then I was given additional assignments to represent AIM in APEC and ASEM education-related programs which entailed frequent travel to their member countries and Wawell and I lost contact.

    Yelly, this was the first I read about his passing. Thank you for writing such a beautiful piece about a wonderful man! In Pace Requiescat dear Wawell, my highly esteemed and dearest friend: let’s meet in the heavens – in the next life and do our catch-up then. I won’t last too long down here anymore.

    1. Awww thank you for the lovely message about Uncle Wawell. He was an amazing individual with so many layers. Could I have your name please? Thank you!

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