HOW many times have I exclaimed? OMG. Time is flying so fast. So swiftly that it is already 2020. Parang kailan lang, we used to say. These are some of the events that I will not forget. President Ferdinand Marcos’ proclamation of martial law in 1972. (I was then in Olongapo City working in a casino there.) Year 1979, I revived together with the late essayist Ram Mercado the moribund Pampanga Press Club, and I was elected president. In 1988 I placed fourth in the Angeles City Council race. In 1998 I took over as mayor of Angeles City succeeding Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan. (I was not acting nor OIC. I wasn’t elected to the position, but became mayor by operation of law).
In 2001, I was appointed director of Clark Development Corporation and concurrently also as member of the Clark International Airport Corporation. In the year 2009 I was appointed as board director of Bases Conversion Development Authority and served other subsidiaries like Poro Point Management Corporation, Bataan Technological Park Inc., BMHI and Fort Bonifacio Development Corporation. And in 2013 I was elected again councilor of Angeles City. Many water passed already under the bridge, and wondering why all the good years don’t last.
Despite All those government positions I handled, being a journalist/writer was always in my curriculum vitae. As such I never failed to comment on passing events in our country each year. My assessment the sixties can be considered as Philippines’ golden years. The country was performing economically better than most nations in Southeast Asia. After Japan, the international rating agencies tagged the country as number two in economic growth. The gross domestic products (GDP) was up above the chart. The Philippine peso was two pesos vs the US dollar. And Filipino businessmen traveled to Taipei, threw dollars when painting the town red in the Peitu district. Rich families hired their maids from Taiwan and China.
But the turnaround was when Filipino-Chinese tycoons of the country became so rich and controlled most of the country’s enterprises and they started making the banner headlines in the business section of national newspapers in early eighties. Earlier they were involved only in small trading like selling shoes, junk shops and corner sari-sari stores. The Sy family, Gokongweis, Gotianuns Ongpins and many others are all success stories.
During the silver age of economic renaissance in Pampanga and Angeles, Carlos P. Garcia was president. His vice president, Diosdado P. Macapagal billed as the poor boy from Lubao was the most likely successor. When Macapagal wrested the presidency from Garcia, it was all jubilations for the Capampangans. And particularly happy were the people of Lubao. As expected there was a changing of the guards in Malacanang Palace. Amelito Mutuc of Arayat was his executive secretary. And Juan Cancio of Macabebe succeeded him. Jose B. Lingad of Lubao was Labor Secretary and held sensitive positions like Commissioner of Bureau of Customs. Leoncio Parungao was Press Secretary. Brigido Valencia of Guagua was Public Works Secretary. Jose Pelayo of Angeles was Social Welfare secretary.
Apolonio Ponio of Guagua was commissioner of the Land Transportation Office. Marciano Dizon of Porac was the head of Philsugin (Philsucom). Silvestre Punzalan was president of the state owned Philippine National Bank. Dominator Danan of Lubao was Director of the National Bilibid Prison. Emerito De Jesus of Bacolor was undersecretary of the Department of National Defense. There were cabalens who held various positions in government in that four year that Macapagal was in Malacanang. It was only cut short when former party mate Senate President Ferdinand Marcos trounced him in re-election bid.
During the Macapagal years in Malacañang, one of his closest friends and compadre was the inimitable Francisco G. Nepomuceno. Through Macapagal’s support he defeated the well revered and highly popular incumbent Rafael L. Lazatin in the gubernatorial race. Lazatin was allied with Nacionalista Party and a close ally of Senate President Gil J. Puyat of Guagua. Puyat himself longed of becoming president but this was dampened by the election of Marcos who got re-elected and proclaimed martial law in 1972.