Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bill til the end

As Rona posted, Bill Sorro passed away at the end of August. I received an email about a memorial for him and it explicitly said, "No speeches." I couldn't help but laugh and think, "Yeah, Bill still telling it the way it is."

I had interviewed Bill as part of an oral history class about 8 years ago. He was a part of the KDP, one of the major Filipino anti-Martial Law movement groups. While most of the group were young single college students, Bill was a bit older, married with a family of young kids. Whenever the conversations got into over the top heady discussions of the purpose and meaning of their actions, Bill brought it down to the basics, "So, what are we going to do about it?" The man had a family to raise and didn't really have time to mince words. And while he wasn't a man of speeches, he was a man who would speak to cut through a whole lot of bs. So when Bill took the floor at a meeting, people listened because you knew he was talking just to hear himself talk, he spoke because he had something meaningful to add.

Bill was one of the first folks I had talked to about KDP who didn't glorify it or sugar coat the past. He was candid and honest about the issues within the group, their weaknesses, their strengths.

Bill was known for all the work he did as an advocate for various social justice issues like housing and health care. But at the core of his work I found was a man of simple means. It was clear to him what was important in life. Family was always first with Bill, it just so happened that he treated just about everyone he met like family. And his home was abuzz of people because his home was open to all of his family.

At his memorial he just wants people to dance and party, enjoy themselves and each other. That's SO Bill. He wouldn't have wanted people to bore each other with speeches about him. In the end, his life's work, was about bringing people together to just enjoy themselves and the people in their lives. Til the end, he did just that.

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