BENITO Legarda Jr. passed away just a month ago. I remember very vividly the first time I saw him. There was a conference at the end of 2009 at the Instituto Cervantes, which used to be on TM Kalaw Street. There were many Filipinos asking questions in English. Suddenly, an old man politely asked for his turn. He stood up and instead of asking a question, he started to make a few comments to the keynote speaker in Spanish. He had a wonderful Spanish accent that I had never heard before. Dr. Legarda finished his intervention by reciting, from memory, five or six verses from one of the best Filipino poets in Spanish, Cecilio Apóstol.

Needless to say, after such a sound intervention, nobody wanted to ask any more. The next person would have looked quite small, quite meaningless. There was a huge silence, and the master of ceremonies quickly realized that it was time to put an end to the event.

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