The late Libertito Pelayo (left) during his birthday party in 2011. With him are Consul General Mario L. de Leon, Jr. and wife Eleanor.  (Filipino Reporter file photo by Rene Ner)

• Good morning. Magandang umaga sa inyong lahat.

• The past few days have been very sad for the community, because we lost a man we will sorely miss.

At the same time that we mourn the death of Libertito “Bert” Pelayo, let us remember his life and the legacy he left behind as a friend, a leader, an institution in the community.

• I have known Bert as early as the 90s, during my first stint as a junior officer at the Philippine Consulate and the Philippine Mission to the UN.

Filipino Reporter was at that time, and still is, the foremost resource for news, views and entertainment for Filipino-Americans in New York.

His is the opinion everyone sought and listened to pertaining to issues surrounding the community.

• So highly regarded are his insights and wisdom that he had earned the respect and trust of many of my predecessors in the Foreign Service and the government, including the Secretaries of Foreign Affairs, and even former President Fidel V. Ramos.

• Bert was known to be a man of great integrity.

He knew that as a journalist, he owes the Filipinos and his audience the truth.

He was a man of great character, and was sincere in his dealings with everyone he encountered.

• On my part, my relationship with Bert started off professionally.

As a young officer, part of my responsibilities involved consular duties and community relations.

Bert would normally get information from me on topics he needed to publish, and I would take this arrangement as an opportunity to air the Consulate’s position.

• As the years passed, I have seen Bert dispense help to community members that need his assistance — be it in terms of finance, his influence or his encouragement.

• When I returned to New York to assume my position as consul general, Bert and wife Linda were one of the people who first welcomed me.

Our friendship and partnership was renewed.

And soon enough, I, too would heed his advice on subjects and topics, some sensitive, that affected the community on my absence in New York.

• From then until his last days, Bert has helped me navigate through some difficult issues and patch relations among the community.

• Bert was a pacifist and a negotiator, he understood the community like no one.

He knew that somewhere, sometime, one would have to disagree with some people, even with close friends, but he made sure to make amends and think long-term for the benefit of the majority.

• Definitely, Bert left a place in the community that is hard to replace.

• Gone is the father of the longest running Filipino publication, steadfast defender of the community, fervent promoter of our culture, the staunch supporter of many of our organizations.

• As we look back on the years of Bert, and how he has touched the community and our individual lives, I encourage everyone to reflect in ourselves how we can emulate that one thing he has imparted in you.  

• For me, that is to always see the big picture, to think how my decision will impact everyone in the long term.

Life, after all, is all about developing relationships with your fellowmen, and ultimately with our Creator.

Once you have taken that to heart, the legacy of Bert will always be alive.

• Again, I would like to express my deepest sympathies to his ever affable wife Linda, his children Joy and husband Chris, L.P., Patrick and wife Tessa, and his grandchildren.

May you be comforted with the thought that Bert left you with the community that he has served and will always have our love and support.

• Thank you Bert for all that you have done for the Filipino community.

Rest in peace.

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