PAMPANGA

Sangil: The late mayors of Pampanga

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LIFE is so fragile. No one can escape in kicking the bucket, sooner or later. Each one of us wants to leave a lasting legacy. It is not the legacy that is like a will or a testament that you leave behind for the family to inherit. I am referring to the legacy which you will be long remembered. The question is: how do you want to be remembered?

Let’s start with former mayors of Pampanga, and how I remember them. Let me begin with the late Arayat Mayor Benny Espino. He escaped death many times. He was ambushed a few times by unknown assassins. He lived a colorful life. He had a booming voice that complimented his large frame. Yet he was kind, nice, gentle and very generous even to non-friends. He was a gentle giant of a man who asserted himself in a town that was the center of much unrest. He prevailed in many elections. The townspeople loved him.

Nonong Lumanlan of Porac was the one who was assassinated while campaigning in Barangay Sta. Cruz. It was during his time that big-time quarry operations in the town started and it became a multi-million industry. It’s now a good source of revenue for the province. Mayor Fred Halili was the Ramon Magsaysay of Mabalacat. He was working as a barracks boy inside then Clark Air Force Base and studied after work as a self-supporting student. He was hired as a staff in the mayor’s office and was drafted as vice mayor. He won and few months thereafter assumed the mayorship after the mayor was felled by assassin bullets. He served several terms. Armando P. Biliwang of San Fernando was the most controversial local executive in the seventies and eighties. He formed the Barangay Self Defense Unit (BSDU), a group that declared war against the dissident movement.

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There were less controversial mayors in the province but were embraced by electorates, not because of their achievements but were caring and always ready to lend helping hands, so generous and dig on their own pockets to those who seek assistance. I remember Frank Ocampo, a simple fellow whose dark complexion and a ready smile for everyone identified himself to the masses. The same thing can be said of Apalit Mayor Romy Pamintuan who in his last days I often shared coffee in one of those food chains in a mall in San Fernando. He was so proud of telling everyone that he entered politics a moneyed man and he made an exit ten times poorer. Other local executives carved an unforgettable niche in their time serving their constituents but are still alive and are in advance age and still relishing the memories of their youth.

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In Angeles City, there are seven colorful mayors I remember who already passed away but they had their memorable years during their stints. Among them are Manuel Abad Santos, his son Antonio aka Bubusok, Rafael Del Rosario Sr. , Rafael L.Lazatin, his son Carmelo aka Tarzan, Eugenio N. Suarez and Francisco G. Nepomuceno. I will write some sketch of their times when the city was under their watch. Wait for my next article.


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