Daughter remembers Merit Salud: ‘He would always tell us he loved us’

Merit with daughter Abigail, the youngest of three siblings. Photos courtesy of Sajara Gonzales

Merit with daughter Abigail, the youngest of three siblings. Photos courtesy of Sajara Gonzalez

By Abigail Salud

Emerito Flores Salud was known in the Filipino-American community as a devoted and patriotic community leader, lawyer, and advocate. He worked tirelessly on various initiatives governed by different associations, including the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) and Filipino American Legal Defense & Education Fund (FALDEF).

He loomed large, and he lent his voice to those who could not speak for themselves. He loved his beloved Philippines unwaveringly, even after he immigrated to the United States in 1992. In the company of others, he spoke his mind freely, not one to mince words, and he stood firmly behind the principles for which he championed. He offered counsel, encouragement and support to people he knew, whether brief acquaintances or long-time friends.

In many ways, his public persona didn’t differ much from the role he played as the head of our family. He loved his family resolutely, he was principled in his disciplined parenting, and he continuously gave us counsel, encouragement and support.

Dad was a proud family man. He promoted family history and traditions through telling and re-telling of stories from days of old. His family experienced the turning wheel of fortune, from having great wealth to having barely enough. As difficult as times may have sometimes been in his youth, he only spoke of his experiences with his family with pride and love. When he got together with his siblings, the rest of us often joked that they told the same stories so many times, even we could finish the stories for them. They laughed at the same jokes and chimed in on the same tales. They stayed up until the early morning hours, only to repeat the scene the next day and the day after that until it was again time to part ways.

La Familia Salud on Facebook: From left, children Emeritus, Sajara and Abigail; and wife Norma.

La Familia Salud on Facebook: From left, children Emeritus, Sajara and Abigail; and wife Norma.

Despite being the youngest boy of 12 siblings, only second youngest to my aunt, Dad was a father figure, not just to me and my siblings, but also to many of my cousins in the Philippines whose parents had passed away. He tried to keep the family together by hosting family get-togethers and reunions. When there was a family problem, relatives from the Philippines would call him for advice and assistance. Whenever we had a problem or an issue, he always had a solution; he knew the right things to say and the right things to do. He encouraged and promoted education among all of us, rewarding with tokens of appreciation those who had graduated from school. He believed that completing our education was the biggest stepping stone we could give ourselves to achieve personal success. Dad was so proud of each of us when we graduated from college.

He had little tolerance for self-pity and for laziness. My siblings and I worked on various domestic projects, on some of them working long after the sun had gone down (and we had to use spotlights to complete our work). He wanted things done right the first time around. At the time, it seemed extreme. Looking back, this became the basis of our work ethic, which is steadfast no matter how challenging a task may be. We are not afraid of hard work and of difficult times, because we know we have what it takes to get any job done.

As tough as Dad was on us on certain aspects of life, he was also warm-hearted and generous with his affection and praise. I grew up with an abundance of displayed affection – hugs, kisses, high-fives and pats on the head, shoulder, or hands were the norm. He would tell us he loved us, sometimes out of nowhere, stating it so matter-of-factly, he could have been observing the time of day or the weather. He celebrated our successes, big or small. The attention felt embarrassing at times and occasionally it seemed unwarranted, but now, I see that he was simply proud of us. He was so proud, he couldn’t keep it a secret, and he just had to share it with others.
Dad was always larger than life, and his death leaves a big void that cannot be filled. He may be known to most as a community leader, but to us, he will always be Dad.

Abigail Salud is the daughter of recently deceased NaFFAA leader Emerito ‘Merit’ Salud and Norma Salud nee Aquino. She is the youngest of three siblings, namely Emeritus and Sajara. She lives in the UK where she works in corporate giving for a pharmaceutical company.

Attorney Merit Salud passed away in the Philippines on December 17th at 12:36 p.m. His remains were cremated and brought to New Jersey where his family is based.

© The FilAm 2019

With his grandchildren: A proud family man

With his grandchildren: A proud family man

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