SINCE our first meeting in 1966 at the Manuel L. Quezon University – College of Law compound, then 3rd year law student Jose de Venecia Jr., has impressed us with his “forever young” demeanor..
He may walk in measured steps now, but most of his friends in government and the private sector can’t avoid his perennial youthfulness.
Consider this: after his successful five-term speakership at the House of Representatives, he now presides over a group of world statesmen representing 52 states in Asia.
Known as International Conference of Asian Political Parties, the prestigious group is now directing or influencing the flow of events that advance economies, inter-faith dialogue, putting to an end religious radicalism, violent extremism, poverty and other problems.
We first met while we were then being initiated into the Kappa Gamma Phi or Knights of the Golden Fleece fraternity otherwise known as MLQU’s honor society.
Although not a KGF member, he was “buddy- buddy” to our “masters” the likes of Gimo de Vega, Tony Villegas, and MLQU’s founding president, Leoncio B. Monson.
When we were introduced by then young lawyer Augusto Macam, a KGF stalwart from Mangatraem, Pangasinan, Kuya Joe talked to us about our family as if trying to connect kinship with his mother, Casimira Claveria, who was a native of our barangay Malued in Dagupan.
We later told him kinship was actually sealed by my marriage to his niece, the former Catherine de Venecia–Gaerlan Bernardo, a doctor of philosophy and at present Diet Clinic chief of Region 1 MedIcal Center.
On his 81st birthday, bash prepared by doting wife, former Congresswoman Gina and son, incumbent Congressman Christopher de Venecia, we thought it would be a sacrilege to skip the event. It would be graced, surely, by a who-is-who in the world guest list. JdV used to entertain such personages like former President Bill Clinton, the Bush father and son and many stellar others. O, yes, the hoi poloi would not miss his parties, too. The Manong knows our fondness for the masa , who he blamed for our incarceration during the martial law years.
Fact is, we were with JdV on the night martial law was proclaimed at the Manila Overseas Press Club with Joe Guevarra, E.P. Patanne, and Nap Rama, and the Yuyitung brothers who were then a day earlier detained by the military.
In Pangasinan, JdV is one of our four models of achievers, including former President Fidel V. Ramos, the late former Speaker Eugenio Perez, schoolmate National Artist Salvador Bernal, and writer Carlos Bulosan.
In our first meetings, Manong Joe already gave us the impression of a young man who wanted to conquer the world. Jess Sison, former press secretary, told us JdV had regaled that, he would one day become president of the Philippines.” He almost made it, were it not for his movie star opponent!
In spite of his stature — ambassador at 28 — he was self effacing. He visited us at Camp Aquino when we were detained under Martial Law and told us later the visit made him a “marked man” for his dalliances with the “ enemy.”
FVR then was constabulary chief, a symbol of the enemy, but we found him warm and friendly. In fact, we were told that our early release after 30 days of detention — was due to FVR.
He humanized Ferdinand Marcos’ martial rule.
Like JdV, we found FVR a master “family man.” He impressed us with his knowledge of our Velasco family, even as he intimated about middle name “ Martinez” which could be a kin of his wife Ming Martinez.
On JdV’s birthday, Happy birthday to a faithful friend of the nation and of the world and of this humble writer.