Honor guards place the casket of former Health Secretary and Senator Juan Flavier at the Department of Health convention hall in Sta. Cruz, Manila on Tuesday, November 4, for a necrological service. Flavier succumbed to multi-organ failure and sepsis on October 30. He popularized the 'Let's DOH it' and 'Yosi Kadiri' anti-smoking campaign when he was still the health secretary from 1992-1995.  (MNS photo)

Honor guards place the casket of former Health Secretary and Senator Juan Flavier at the Department of Health convention hall in Sta. Cruz, Manila on Tuesday, November 4, for a necrological service. Flavier succumbed to multi-organ failure and sepsis on October 30. He popularized the ‘Let’s DOH it’ and ‘Yosi Kadiri’ anti-smoking campaign when he was still the health secretary from 1992-1995. (MNS photo)

MANILA, Nov 4 (Mabuhay) – A fitting reminder to a department now embroiled in controversy.

That was what became of former Senator and Health Secretary Juan Flavier’s necrological service at the agency he served from 1992 to 1995.

Flavier’s humility, simplicity, honesty and dedication to public health service were the recurring themes of the necrological service where eulogies were delivered by the deceased’s close colleagues at the agency.

Flavier’s remains arrived early Tuesday at the Department of Health (DOH) compound in Manila for the 8 a.m. service.

The remains were accompanied by members of the Flavier family and received by DOH officials led by Health Acting Secretary Janet Garin.

Health Secretary Enrique Ona caught up with the service in what would be his first public appearance since news broke that he has gone on a month-long leave due to an allergy as well as questions from President Benigno Aquino III on their immunization program.

First to deliver a eulogy was Dr. Susan Pineda-Mercado, Flavier’s former head executive assistant, who recalled how Flavier connected with the field officers and barangay health officers of the DOH.

She also recalled how Flavier formulated his “Let’s DOH it” programs for the agency like Oplan Alis Disease, Yosi Kadiri, breastfeeding, Doctors to the Barrios, and community billboards, among others.

She also recalled the brilliant communicator that Flavier was and how he matched the work ethic of his boss, then President Fidel Ramos. She also shared Flavier’s lighter side and his propensity for jokes.

She also shared how Flavier was unperturbed by his critics, who attacked his advocacy on family planning, condom use and tobacco control.

Despite the fact that some of his critics were from the Catholic church, Pineda-Mercado maintained Flavier did what he did to glorify God.

Tireless and brave, Flavier was said to have gone to as far as Sulu to ensure the delivery of medical services.

Another colleague, Juan Nanagas, also recalled Flavier’s sense of humor when he attended budget debates as DOH secretary.

He recalled how Flavier initially thought being in the Senate was not for him – and how fate had other plans because Flavier ended up becoming a two-term senator.

Ramon Navarra spoke about how volunteers came to work on Flavier’s senatorial candidacy, and how the Catholic church managed to affect his senatorial rankings in 2005 from number 1 to 5.

He also recalled how Flavier did not use his pork barrel funds and instead diverted these to the Landbank so that these may be used for loans to farmers, and how he built some hospitals and other health infrastructures.

He also recalled how Flavier became Mr. Quorum in the Senate because he attended all sessions and hearings.

Navarra said Flavier never abused his position, adding that he did not even have a bodyguard.

Navarra called Flavier the best DOH secretary.

Michael Felipe Mercado recalled how Flavier encouraged everyone in his staff to pursue further studies, and that there is a Juan Flavier in all of us.

Garin, for her part, spoke of Flavier as an example to all of them in the DOH, as he made the people foremost in his decisions at the DOH.

She said Flavier was an example of an ethical public servant and how to live life with a purpose.

She said this is a reminder to the DOH and to government to continue what Flavier began.

Ona, for his part, recognized how Flavier set the standard too high for all health secretaries.

He said they are like pygmies standing n the shoulders of a giant—that is Flavier.

Flavier’s son, James, thanked the DOH on his family’s behalf. (MNS)