People I know

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Sunday, July 6, 2014


RICH AND FAMOUS -- Am I so lucky that I was able to mingle with names you commonly read on national newspapers, faces you frequently see on television, and maybe you wish you are as lucky as they are.

This material I write can be likened to the stories told by Marco Polo, the Italian merchant traveller who made trips to Central Asia and China in mid-13th century. He regaled his friends when he made a successful return to his hometown of Venice. For my part, I am not trying to regale the readers, rather to focus on people who are just like you me, despite their success in life.

The late Rizalino "Roy" Navarro, the local boy from Angeles City, was one of the top honchos of the very influential Sycip, Gorres, Velayo (SGV) accounting office when tapped by then President Fidel Ramos as his trade secretary. Roy was not only brilliant but a kind man. He was a top rate finance man and served as Chief Executive Officer of RCBC and sat either as chairman or director in most of the Alfonso Yuchengco group of companies.

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The late Ka Blas Ople was one of my idols. We've met during the campaign of 1978 for the Interim Batasan Pambansa elections. He took fancy of my eloquence in making speeches in Filipino. From then on he considered me as a friend, and him my mentor. He was Labor Secretary, Senate President and Foreign Affairs secretary until his death.

In my nine-year stint as director of Clark Development Corporation (CD) and Clark International Corporation (CIAC), I had the privilege of becoming friends with Narciso Abaya, a graduate of West Point and became Armed Forces Chief of Staff. He never allowed me to pay for our afternoon coffee at the UCC at Global City. He has terrific sense of humor.

As a nominee of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) to the Fort Bonifacio Development Authority, I sat in the board room with Fernando Zobel de Ayala, Antonino Aquino, former president of Ayala Land Inc. (ALI), Butch Campos of Unilab and Bobby Dy, current president of ALI. If you read the business sections of national dailies, you may have come across these names.

FAMOUS KAPAMPANGANS- Aside from Roy Navarro, some cabalens who made good I had privilege meeting and became friends along the way were Benny Ricafort, a former banker who became president of CDC, Victor Jose Luciano, former president of Jaycee International and country manager of Asiana Airlines and now president of Clark International Corporation, businessman Jess Nicdao owner of several food chain outlets of Jolibee and Chowking, Victor Yap, now governor of Tarlac, Levi Laus, chairman of Laus group of companies, Budge Madamba a 1962 graduate of Philippine Military Academy and retired as Deputy Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

But no matter what they accomplished in life, they are simple persons to me. They love to tell jokes, and they laugh when you crack one. They have their own vulnerabilities.

THE OTHER FRIENDS- One of whom I consider as a best friend was the late Pacito Pabalan, long time serving barangay captain of Balibago, Angeles City. We were both elected Angeles City councilor in 1988. From then on we were almost inseparable. Almost nightly we party over beers and pulutans with other friends like Tony De La Rosa, Johnny Pineda, Juaning Dayrit, Dante Urbano, Thelmo Lalic, Carmelino Nunag and friends whom I now remember only their first names or aliases. Those were my most memorable years. The good years. The years I missed most in my life.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on July 07, 2014.

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