‘When Bato cries, the whole nation laughs’

By Alex P. Vidal

“Nobody deserves your tears, but whoever deserves them will not make you cry.”—Gabriel Garcia Marquez

THERE must be something unique in Senator Ronaldo “Bato” dela Rosa’s personality that even if he was a known tough guy as a law enforcer before becoming a senator, some people don’t take him—or his public persona—seriously.

“No, brave men do cry” was the famous line 60-year-old Dela Rosa uncorked when asked by TV entertainment and talk show host Boy Abunda in an interview in July 2016 if he was not worried people would see him emotional.

This was after he cried while in his uniform when Abunda read aloud the then police chief’s Father’s Day letter to his “Papa Doro” in an episode of “The Bottomline.”

He told Abunda: “Kasi kung ikaw taong walang puso, hindi ka tao. Hindi ka naging matapang kung wala kang puso. Dahil walang basis ‘yung katapangan mo kung wala kang puso (Because if you’re a person without a heart, you’re not human. You can’t be brave without a heart. Because your bravery can’t have any basis if you don’t have heart).”

Many think it is fine for a woman to cry, but not men.

But Jesus cried in compassion for His friends and in grief over the city of Jerusalem.

Paul was a bold man, a former leader among persecutors of Christians, someone who withstood beatings, imprisonments, and shipwrecks. However, in several passages he shed tears as he wrote to the churches and served the Lord.

Joseph, a man of great leadership in Egypt, wept when he faced his brothers. Jeremiah is called the weeping prophet. Mordecai cried with a bitter cry for his nation.


On November 23, 2016 while in the Senate hearing, then Police General Bato drew mixed reactions from public when he cried again while lamenting that “Ako ay hirap na hirap na (I’m really having a hard time)” seemingly in frustration that some cops continued to misbehave and break the law despite their good salary.

Pinapasa-Diyos ko na lang itong sa PNP. Gustong-gusto kong mareform ang PNP. Ako’y hirap na hirap na (I’m just leaving the situation at the PNP to God. I really want to reform the PNP. I’m really having such a hard time),” said Dela Rosa, as he tried to fight back tears, while alleged drug lord Kerwin Espinosa, who sat beside the PNP chief, gave him tissue napkins to wipe away his tears.

And again in September 2017, he literally shed tears anew in another Senate hearing where he denied the Philippine National Police (PNP) had a policy to kill those suspected of involvement in illegal drugs amid the rising complaints of human rights abuses from relatives of slain drug addicts.

When his U.S. visa was cancelled in January 2020, there was no report that Senator Bato cried, but he acknowledged it “might be related” to alleged extrajudicial killings under his watch as PNP chief from 2016 to 2018.

“Should I want daw to apply for another visa, I may apply, subject to US laws and regulations,” Dela Rosa told reporters in a chance interview at the Senate as reported by CNN Philippines.


And finally early this month when Senator Franklin Drilon bade goodbye in the Senate after serving for 24 years, Senator Bato cried while approaching and embracing the outgoing Iloilo senator, who is critic of Senator Bato’s political patron, outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Pusong Bato: Dela Rosa cries on Drilon’s last day in the Senate,” screamed Abogado, a news website.

“Senator Bato Dela Rosa can be seen crying while Big Man or Senator Frank Drilon shares his goodbyes,” added the caption in a photo uploaded in the website. “Drilon has served the Senate for 24 years and has been a key contributor to the legislative body. In his privileged speech, the former PNP Chief said he saw the opportunity of working with Drilon and how he pitied the other senators who will not be able to experience the same thing. Big Man, signing off!”

As a tearjerker during the senate hearings when he was the PNP chief, some people, especially his critics, mocked him. But there were supporters who believed he was sincere and his tears meant “he wasn’t a fake person.”

But in the goodbye Drilon episode, many people—both supporters and critics have started to cast doubts whether he really was emotional by nature, or he really was a cry baby.

“When (Senator) Bato cries, the whole nation laughs,” said a Philippine Consulate official who refused to be named for fear that he will be misconstrued.

Is crying good for us? Scientific evidence indicates that when we cry emotional tears, the body releases stress-relieving endorphins, according to the Biblical Counseling Center.

“These chemicals help us feel better and stabilize our moods. Tears also release built-up toxins from emotional stress. Suppressed pain can contribute to stress-related diseases such as high blood pressure, heart problems, and peptic ulcers,” explained the Biblical Counseling Center.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo.—Ed)