The Nepomucenos and the Lazatins-A A +A
By Max Sangil
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
CONGRESSMAN Francisco G. Nepomuceno only stayed two years in the House of Representatives. He readied himself on those two years to do battle with Governor Rafael Lazatin who earlier trounced the incumbent Governor Jose B. Lingad.
Earlier, Lingad and Emilio Cortez of Sta. Ana fought the incumbent Governor Urbano Dizon in a three-cornered gubernatorial race. Lingad was proclaimed winner, though there were talks that it was Cortez who really won that contest; that there were some ballot boxes snatched and burned during the canvassing of the votes. But that was only loose talk, and the snatching of ballot boxes was never proven.
Lingad didn't stay long at the Capitol. In one election, Rafael Lazatin of Angeles gunned for the governorship and won overwhelmingly. Luckily for Lingad he was about to retire from public service when his townmate Diosdado Macapagal became president after defeating Carlos P. Garcia of Bohol.
Lingad served under the Macapagal administration as commissioner of the Bureau of Customs and Bureau of Internal Revenue, and later secretary of the Department of Labor.
It was a battle royale when Francisco Gopez Nepomuceno and Rafael Laxamana Lazatin met for the first time in a gubernatorial race. It was a tight race. Lazatin was the more serious type of politician, no-nonsense and clearly laid out his program of government. Nepomuceno was the easygoing type, cracking jokes and drawing the bigger crowd. He never failed to elicit laughter from his audience whenever he made a dig at Lazatin.
Nepomuceno prevailed in their first face off. And this was repeated in the many races. Till his retirement in politics, Lazatin never defeated Nepomuceno. The last outing of the two was in 1988 when they squared off in a three-cornered fight in a mayoral race together with Antonio “Bubusuk” Abad Santos. The victory of Abad Santos pushed them out of the political arena and both retired from politics.
Lazatin's only son, Carmelo aka Tarzan, like his father, never wanted to be in politics. He’d rather get involved in business. But through the prodding of his father, he entered the mayoral race of 1980. He lost because he was not really serious about his entry. He just did not want to displease his old man.
It was totally different in 1987. It was Cory Aquino now who was president after Marcos was forced to flee the country after the successful Edsa February revolution. Tarzan's friend, Congressman Jose “Peping” Cojuangco, encouraged him to run for congressman in his home district. That was his first victory in the polls, besting seven others. From then on, till today, Tarzan never lost a political race. Today his son Carmelo Jr. is eyeing a council seat in Angeles City, while his other son Jonjon and daughter Janet ran unsuccessfully in previous elections.
Like Rafael Lazatin, Francisco Nepomuceno retired from politics after the humiliating defeat to car broker Antonio Abad Santos. Nepomuceno's two sons, Robin and Francis ‘Blueboy’, followed in his footsteps. Robin became vice governor, and later settled as barangay captain of Barangay Cutcut in Angeles City. His son, lawyer Bryan Matthew, is now eyeing his re-election as a city councilor. Blueboy was elected first as vice mayor then became congressman and mayor. He is now seeking to reclaim his congressional seat in this forthcoming midterm elections.
In this year’s elections, the Nepomucenos and the Lazatins merged their forces. The third generation members of the families now share the same banner and color with a common platform. If the alliance will last, or how long it will last, only time can tell.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on January 31, 2013.