It has been a great honor of my life to have known Attorney Ramon Pedrosa. As the presider of our first Friday masses at the Parish development Foundation (PDF), I have worked with him the last 16 years. The said Foundation was a lay religious organization organized by lay men and women and whose main ministry was assisting poor churches or chapels in their various needs. I would like to share the life of Mon for in the era of the laity and, now, of synodality, it is certainly worth telling.

Three virtues that Mon exemplified as a Catholic Christian. First, the most obvious thing—his erudition. That’s the first thing that comes across when one gets to know Mon. He was the classic true-blue Atenean. He still knew his Latin and Greek. And you can talk to him about any topic there is, from philosophy to theology to politics or even science. He was well read. And eventually, he started writing. I published his book on Golgotha and sadly, he was still finishing a five-volume opus on the Catholic faith when he passed away last week. This notwithstanding, anyone who have known him would have been impressed not only by his intelligence but by his wisdom. Indeed, he embodied St. Anselm’s famous maxim for all men and women of faith: fides quaerens intellectum, our faith must seek understanding or reason. At the Foundation, we will certainly miss Mon’s “sermons.” Traditionally, after the priest’s homily, we encourage people to briefly share their thoughts. But every time Mon Pedrosa shared his prodigious knowledge on a biblical verse or a detail in the history of the Church, people would be hesitant to follow. Upon the encouragement of Cardinal Jaime Sin, these “sermons” from Mon and the other members were compiled and published into 12 volumes on lay preaching. The PDF members would also be invited to homiletics classes in the seminaries in Manila.

But Mon was not all about words or intelligence. He was a man of action as well. But not just any kind of action. And this, for me, was Mon’s second virtue. He was a man of service. Service particularly to the country and to the poor. He really lived up to the Ateneo thrust of being a “man for others.” He shared with me that after his studies as a lawyer and all, he worked for a long time for the leper colony of Culion, which was then a Jesuit apostolate. Imagine in the early 60s or 70s traveling to and from that lonely island despite the transportation limitations and the real danger and stigma associated with leprosy at that time. But our patriot was determined to give relief and healing to one of the poorest-of-the-poor sectors of our society. However, he was not confined to charity work. He also worked for social justice. In fact, he was very much involved in the pro-democracy movement during Martial Law in the Philippines. Specifically, he was engaged in the promotion of active non-violence, together with his idol Fr Jose Blanco, SJ who began the movement known as Akkapka or Aksyon Para sa Kapayapaan at Katarungan. Iconic is the picture of Mon Pedrosa together with the great senator Lorenzo Tanada and other opposition stalwarts at that time, as they stood arm in arm in the streets and as they withstood being water-cannoned then. Yes, Mon was not only about ideas, he was also about changing the world through concrete actions.

But Mon was certainly not defined by his words or actions. His third virtue: Mon was deeply rooted in his Catholic faith. For one, he was certainly devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary; After a pilgrimage in Mexico, he became so passionate about Our Lady of Guadalupe. He wrote a book about her and gave various talks and lectures about the apparition that, as Mon would say, paved the way for the earliest recorded bloodless conversion to the faith of any nation. Another outstanding devotion was the Shroud of Turin which he believed was authentic and thus, with his brother, Monsignor Augusto Pedrosa who was rector of the Manila Cathedral, he was instrumental in the staging of occasional exhibits of the image in various parts of the country.

Needless to say, Mon was equally passionate about the Holy Eucharist. He picked up the devotion from his Ateneo days, but it bloomed with his friendship with the great Fr. John Delaney, SJ, who built the Chapel of the University of the Philippines. Mon helped the latter in this undertaking and it was during this time that his love for the Eucharist grew strong and deep. Yes, Mon’s faith was surely impressive, for a lay man to write extensively about the Catholic faith, that surely says a lot. But as the saying goes, a saint has a sinful past and every sinner has a future. And I remember Mon sharing with me how God called him. Like many of us schooled in the faith through our Catholic education, Mon knew the faith superficially. Until that one night in France. While attending a conference there, and after painting the town red (Yes, Mon loved wine-ing and partying), he remembered walking home tipsy and all. Suddenly he heard someone whispering to him, “jump.” Which he did obediently just in the nick of time as a car zipped past him. He could have been hit and died, but was saved. He looked around to thank whoever shouted at him to jump. But he was alone, and he knew, he said, it was his angel. Saving him. Saving him for the mission that he still had to accomplish. He broke down in tears and overwhelmed by God’s goodness, there and then, he surrendered his life to him.

Attorney Ramon Pedrosa was certainly a giant of a man. Despite his modesty and humility. A short tribute like this would fail to give justice to his life and works, but his life-story as a devout Catholic and Filipino patriot needs to be told. But I will be amiss to forget his one other great love. Fely. His wife. He loved her so much and when she passed away in the pandemic, I knew Mon was struggling to hold everything together. Now, Mon, you are reunited with her. And all your other loves, your parents, Mary and Jesus. Enjoy a much-deserved eternity.

(Attorney Ramon Pedrosa’s remains lie in wake at the Arlington Memorial Chapel along G. Araneta Avenue.)