I WAS in a training in Manila when I got a Viber message -- a helicopter crashed in Bulacan and Mr. Levy P. Laus or LPL, as he was called by peers and subordinates, was on it. Immediately I called friends in Pampanga who confirmed the sad news. Minutes later, news from online sources as well as Facebook posts started to come in, along with pictures of the mangled chopper.

To this day, I still can’t believe that LPL is no longer around. Though I am not officially a part of the Laus Group of Companies (LGC) family, I feel their loss. I have been broadcasting my weekly environmental radio program over DWRW for the last 20 years, and have been a columnist for SunStar Pampanga for 15 years. For a short time, my radio program was also simulcast over CLTV 36. These companies form the LGC’s media group.

Much has been said about his contributions, and I don’t think I can still add to them. What I particularly know is that I was a witness to the development of the commercial stretch along Jose Abad Santos Avenue (JASA) where the LGC is based. In the 20 years that I traversed the highway which was then called OG Road, I saw how it was transformed into a cogon-infested land to a bustling business district. LPL contributed to this development. He was one of the first to invest in the area.

My personal encounters with LPL were few. Most were brief and official. But I do admire the man for his business acumen. He established a huge car dealership and ventured into other businesses like food and media. In the business chamber movement, I witnessed how he led the birth of Pampanga Chamber of Commerce (PamCham). I was then the President of Metro Angeles Chamber of Commerce (MACCII). We often met in national and regional business conferences.

Though from San Fernando, I thank him for his investments in my beloved Mabalacat City. I recall that many years back, there was a CarWorld showroom in Dau but it closed after the Pinatubo eruption. The place was later converted into a Max’s restaurant. The DWRW transmitter was also built there. Today, LGC has a Tire City service center, and Haima and Foton dealerships in Barangay Dau.

Why was LPL gone too soon? Only the Creator knows. He does all things according to his time. Well at least, her daughter said, he left while he was at his best.

If I had my way, I would rename JASA to Levy P. Laus Avenue to honor the man. Unfortunately, the guidelines in renaming streets wouldn’t allow that. Public places such as those already named after presidents, national heroes cannot be replaced with names of people of lesser importance. (e.g. places named after national heroes cannot be renamed after local heroes; places named after Presidents cannot be renamed after Senators). Jose Abad Santos is a national hero and a Kapampangan at that. Well, I’m sure there are other ways to remember his legacy to the province and to the nation.

Farewell, LPL.