PAMPANGA

Sula: Missing Oca

MANY will be missing the revered veteran politician Oscar Rodriguez in the political season that has just been ushered recently with the official start of filing of certificate of candidacy (COC) for local and national posts.

It stands to reason why.

Rodriguez is former congressman, mayor, impeachment star, Pinatubo hero, honorary man, and a beloved friend of media. It goes without saying that women like him, too, for a variety of reasons.

He's soft-spoken, even when he wants to wring your neck; an authentic humble person who was originally a poor boy from Sta. Ana. He's still soft-spoken and humble, except being poor. I learned that from his driver who I met at a carwash shop.

Somehow, with him out of the hustings for this upcoming season, it doesn't quite feel alright or normal. Oca always injects sanity, pragmatism, and occasionaly, homespun humor and idealism into any political conversation.

He talks less about money, if ever, more about meaning and, even more, about relationship, the one that produces goodwill and growth and genuine community bond.

He was the first to teach me about cynicism in politics. That was a long time ago. He was the newly-elected congressman of the third district under the tutelage of the late Bren Z. Guiao and Cory Aquino. He was an outlier, I believe, who suddenly materialized from the political woodwork. Not that he was unknown in the countryside. I heard that’s the reason he was picked by the late Bren as his provincial administrator.

He was a lawyer the other week, I had dinner at Oasis with his long-time buddy and ‘cumpadre’, Jess, I asked him how good a lawyer Oca was. He directed me, instead, to the buffet table to get fresh fruits and salad. Of course, the answer to my question was abundantly demonstrated in the infamous impeachment of former president Joseph Estrada.

Back to cynicism. We were about have to lunch then at Allies infront of the capitol. He joined the late Tang Art Sampang and myself. I ordered chopsuey. I forgot his choice. Then Tang Art asked how it was like to be a congressman. Oca shook his head a bit, unimpressed. It's a good thing, he said. The wife had small a store in the old San Fernando market. Otherwise, they would miss some meals.

Right there and then, I decided not to aspire to be a congressman.

Oca has been many things to many people, from media to business, from politics to non-politics. This guy usually wears his heart on his sleeve. I remember one time talking to him accidentally over the phone, he was actually looking for Tang Art at the Mt. Pinatubo Commission, heavy with the burden of friend in media whose wife had a serious disease. He's that mushy, at times.

He and Dr. Rey Aquino will go down in history as the fathers of cityhood. No need for a DNA test. Yet, despite the sharedn paternity, they ended up unfriends, he was always handy whenever the Save San Fernando movers wanted him. He is a true democrat. He believes the freedom of the press, especially when he is getting a good one (who doesn’t?). He loves simple food, like his benefactor, Bren. After, the came from similar humble beginnings.

He's reportedly throwing his support to the lady mayoralty candidate opposing his former protegee, EDSA. May be because she is an outlier. I don't know if this is just rumor or another riddle in the colorful narrative of this exceptional kabalen who, at times, let me know that I probably am a relative, albeit distant.

He’s that magnanimous.


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