Eulogy by Deborah Ruiz Wall

January 7, 2014 at 9:25 am (Uncategorized) (, )

My first encounter with David was in 1970 through a letter to the editor that appeared in the editorial page of the Daily Mirror in Manila. I was intrigued by this letter. I imagined a jungle in New Guinea and an Australian man claiming that the place had a shortage of women. In equal jest, I wrote to this stranger and drew a parallel with Manila’s shortage of rice. And so began a friendship exploring diverse interests until we met in person in 1971 in Manila where he stayed for a few months and proposed marriage. I declined. I felt that I was too young and would like to have more exposure of life independently. I was a young idealistic journalist and political activist wrestling with questions about the roots of social turbulence in our country, the Philippines. We parted as friends, and from then simply exchanged occasional postcards.

In September 1972, martial law was declared. A few months later, David sent a reply paid telegram to the University of the Philippines where I worked as a research officer with the Social Science Research Council.

The gist of the telegram was: ‘Why don’t you visit New Guinea and see for yourself what life is like here. You can stay with my Parliamentarian friend, an Englishman married to an Asian woman.’

My reply was ‘Thank you but no one can leave the country. Martial law had been declared. There is a travel ban.’ When he received my reply, David was doing a course in the highlands of New Guinea, Mount Hagen associated with his work in malaria control within the Public Health Department. Concerned for my safety, he deserted his course and immediately flew to Manila and again proposed marriage. This time, I said ‘yes’, and so began an eventful 41 years of marriage that produced two sons, Andrei and David, and a granddaughter, Hala Sofia.

David’s last 10 years of public service in PNG was spent in Angoram, a remote place in the Sepik, which virtually was David’s second home. The day we left Angoram for good, I was astonished. The whole airstrip was covered with Papua New Guineans. Their huge presence was a witness to the respect and love they had for David. I got presents too of shell bags and bilum woven bags. We moved to Talasea, West New Britain and lastly, to Port Moresby before we left PNG for good.

David’s spirit never really left PNG. Upon his retirement as a teacher-librarian, His focus returned to PNG through his blog. He became a professional blogger, the centrepiece of his writing was mostly about Papua New Guinea. He also wrote 2 books – Sepikblu longpela Muruk, and another, Jim Wall an Australian Life which was a tribute to his father. In hindsight, I think he was attending to his unfinished business. Till the end, he remained a seeker of questions dear to him, formed by his Catholic tradition and his life experience. He wore no guises. He was natural and spontaneous. He also had an ironic sense of humour that was never ever intended to hurt but sometimes misinterpreted by people from other cultures. He was compassionate and generous to a fault, his pursuit of uprightness and justice overwhelmed any personal disadvantage that might rebound to him, and this, he simply endured. For me and my sons, his love was unquestionable. He was very supportive of me and my work and interest in Aboriginal and Filipino stories and cultures. I will miss him dearly.

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2 Comments

  1. Harold Krause said,

    Deborah and Family

    All the best in such sad times. I was a late comer to David’s Blogs but I liked him and purchased a couple of his books. David like myself went to TP&NG on Copra and Cocoa Plantations, me in the 1960s in the Rabaul and Coastal TP&NG locations. After some 5 years I returned to my Civil Engineering trade on Bougainville building Panguna, Loloho, Kieta Infrastructure before going to Port Moresby with the Councils and National Government. My story is a long and enjoyable one. David’s death is yet another great loss to PNGs history, in those early days, we did our fair share of helping others in need and built up friendships. In my case my wife’s family are still up there and far worse off than pre 1975 but that is what happens to a new country that got Independence 30 years too early and now, will never recover from the greed, avarice and jealousies entrenched.

    Best wishes and our sympathy to you all

    Harold (Harry) Krause Cairns, 4870, Qld.

  2. Heidi Russo said,

    Debbie, a beautiful story of a life well-lived and loved

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