Friends, relatives, and batchmates during the First Quarter Storm (FQS) gathered to express their prayers and sympathies to the family and loved ones of Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago “Chito” Sta. Romana at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila Chapel and via a webinar online on 03 May 2022.
Sta. Romana was a veteran journalist who lived and worked in Beijing for more than five decades. He was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte as Manila’s envoy to China in 2016 to forge stronger ties and to sought formal talks with China on the West Philippine Sea dispute.
Chito died on 18 April 2022 in his hotel at Huangshan City while under quarantine before his return to Beijing. He went to the Philippines with Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. who visited China for talks with Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi.
The short tribute of Chito’s FQS friends became a space of their personal stories and narratives during Martial Law. Among the guests were survivors of Martial Law who were tortured in their struggle to demand for democracy.
The reflections made by the guests showed how it was being a student during the height of student activism and how it was being friends with Chito during that time. “We appreciate Chito, not only for his selflessness, but the way he inspired and encouraged us to change for the better,” Jack Teotico, said Chito’s Lasallian friend.
Videos of their old photos were shown, and testimonies were also delivered live to the audience via online and offline channels.
During the unprecedented unrest and instability in the Philippines, Chito was instrumental in unifying groups among workers, students, and trade unions which eventually formed the progressive Movement for Democratic Philippines. “He is a very dynamic and a charismatic leader. When he says something, fellow students follow. He was all the time promoting democracy,” says former La Salle colleague and Laguna Mayor Sam Bueser.
To honor the legacy of Chito, President Emmanuel A. Leyco emphasized the need to continue Chito’s effort and those who fought with him during the FQS.
“As we commemorate the 50th year of Martial Law this year, let us not forget the dark times in the Philippine history—thousands of Filipinos who fought for their rights lost their lives, and were tortured and killed mercilessly. Let us continue to fight for our democracy,” President Leyco added.
View photos of the tribute: