January 17, 2011

I Remember Lory

(Eulogy for Lory) by By Jerome Bailen

Written on April 1, 1976

Lory was a complex person and she impressed people who knew her in different ways.

As a new instructor at the Department of Anthropology at the UP, I knew her as a brilliant student and as a very promising colleague. In fact, even before she finished her degree, she was offered a job, that of being my teaching assistant in Social Anthropology which she willingly accepted and took on with great enthusiasm. She belongs to the rare and unfortunately vanishing breed of students who gave more than what was necessary to a task; who would cover a whole blue book instead of only a page or two in answering an examination question and who would invariably submit a 30 paged term paper instead of the 5-10 pages minimally required for a course. She gave more of herself than what was expected in every task she addressed herself to.

One convincing proof of this was a paper on Anthropological theory she prepared while teaching that course, which was of such quality that it was included in a book edited by Doctors Zamora and Salazar.

After slaving through that teaching assistantship, she finally collected her honorarium at the end of the semester. Anthropology majors then as now, did not come from the affluent members of Society and Lory and a lot of us were no exceptions. But the first thing she thought of after getting her pay was to ask me, if there is anything she can buy for me, with the money.

I remember this incident not only because it has touched me (and still continue to touch me) profoundly, but also because I feel it portrays the true nature of Lory and which beautifully explains (and in a sense anticipates) the further course of her life.

These and other related incidents bear witness not only to Lory’s capacity for serious work but of her tendency to think of the needs of others before that of her own. She could have been a definite asset to the UP Department of Anthropology or to any Department elsewhere had she wanted a more prosaic and routinary existence.

But the question she grappled with and the burning issues to which she unhesitatingly flung herself were bigger than the narrow and sometimes meaningless pre-occupations of a great many university departments.

Maria Lorena Barros died March 24, 1976 in the service of the people – these were the poignant words written on an unpretentious piece of faded cartolina on the bulletin board of the UP Dept. of Anthropology. The Sacred Book tells us that “greater love hath no man than this – that he lay down his life for his friends.” But more than that, Lory’s courageous example has affirmed for us man’s essential humanity – which is man’s capacity to transcend his own basic and selfish needs and selflessly offer himself to a cause greater than any of all of us.