They say when a close friend unexpectedly leaves us; a piece of our heart is forever broken.

But I believe he would never want that. And so I asked myself …What would he want?

I believe for a fact, he would want our hearts to burn with fervor and gladness to topple the sorrow we feel by losing him. Yet, our sadness comes from losing a friend, who is also a grandfather, father, brother, comrade-in-arms, son, a husband and most of all a veteran warrior.

But our gladness emanates from our souls. Personally, I am glad to have met an amazing person in the name of Democrito “Kito” Mendoza. And let me share with you why…

Much is known about “Kito”, a champion of the veterans. Aside from being known as one of the founding fathers of the labor movement in the Philippines, he was also one of the propagators of the reopening of the Philippine Veterans Bank. He was also a board member of the said bank, the bank we know now as the financial institution which helps veterans and retirees receive their monthly pension.

His younger years were spent fighting for the freedom and democracy of the Cebuanos, as he was one of the guerrillas in this province. He was a World War II veteran, and a military reservist with the full rank of colonel in the Armed Forces of the Philippines. He was a fierce, fierce fighter, and in his mind, he must survive the war to live long enough and help the next generation of veterans and Filipinos. His middle-aged years were spent helping the government achieve a good standing among our ASEAN neighbors because of his dedication to assisting veterans and retirees with his advocacies. In his twilight years, he still pushed for several programs for the VFP Region 7, and one of them is the extensive membership recruitment for the Federation by citing the rights and privileges each member has either as a living or deceased veteran.

He had many career milestones and achievements. His accomplishments and contributions can never be summed up in one speech. For example, his autobiography “Shapes of Memory” taught us that history is shaped by the men who fought for freedom and national independence.

To sum it all up, I, for one, had fond memories with Kito as we all do. As a fellow veteran, I saw in him the qualities and virtues of a good person whose commitment to serve as much as he can, for as long as he can, was most admirable of all. For the Veterans Federation of the Philippines, Atty. Mendoza or “Kito,” as what we call him, was a man whose integrity and leadership were very much evident in his policy and decision-making for the welfare of his region… He led VFP-Region 7 with unparalleled passion. And so in behalf of the VFP, the Regional, Charter and Affiliate Presidents, District Commanders, Post Commanders, and the national headquarters’ staff, I would like to simply say “Thank you to Atty. Democrito T. Mendoza. Thank you to Veteran Democrito Mendoza. Thank you for your service to us, to your country, the Filipino people, and to your fellow veterans. You will always remain in our hearts.