THROWBACK -- It was 1988. A local election was scheduled. Just a year before there was the national poll where the country held the first democratic elections and we voted 24 senators and congressmen. The Cory Aquino euphoria still permeated the air, and all those endorsed got their advantages.
I was the correspondent of the Philippine Daily Inquirer and the paper editor, Federico "Dik" Pascual (now a columnist of Philippine Star) tasked me to write a situationer on Pampanga politics. I chose to write about a rising political star, Antonio Abad Santos, a consistent topnotcher in many council race in Angeles City and who waged battle against two political giants, Francisco G. Nepomuceno and Rafael L. Lazatin. Both served as Pampanga governor and mayor of Angeles.
After the the successful EDSA uprsing President Cory appointed Abad Santos as the OIC vice mayor of the city. Nepomuceno was the incumbent mayor. He was not replaced like many mayors in many towns and cities all over the country because he was also a Cory supporter. Another Aquino die hard was Lazatin who also wore his political gloves and was the third man in the ring.
MEETING ABAD SANTOS -- He is more an acquaintance than a friend, but he was a friend and 'brother' to all. Anybody he meets he called them brod, a nice disguise so you won't discover he has forgotten who you are and what is your name. Very clever for a politician.
He was already in his small office at the Morlan building along the Macarthur Highway when I arrived. He knew that my interview with him will be featured in the Inquirer so he was too generous enough that his staff bought a breakfast for us at the carinderia downstairs.
I breezed through with my interview, but as I was about make a handshake and bid him my goodbye, he motioned me to sit down again and said: 'eka bisang tagal konsehal? (Don't you want to run for councilor?).
MEETING THE PARTYMATES -- I have heard many stories about Ed Pamintuan,but it was only on a morning caucus at the Abad Santos residence where I met him for the first time. He looked very handsome in his well-trimmed moustache, and i can sense that his charisma will easily win the voters. He was both funny yet scholarly whenever he was making his analyses on the forthcoming political battle with the known political giants, Nepomuceno and Lazatin.
THE OTHERS -- It was a bruising political battle we faced handicapped by scarce logistical resources, yet in the end the Abad Santos and Pamintuan team and five among us in the council slate won.
The late Pacito Pabalan, a barangay captain of Balibago placed second, Lito Ganzon, a successful businessman placed third and I was in the fourth place and tailed by Rafael 'Pengot' Del Rosario Jr., son of former Mayor Raf and the late Dr. Ramon Moreno trailing. And the biggest winner aside from Abad Santos was Ed Pamintuan.
In that year of 1988, Ed Pamintuan started his political career. (There is more in the next issue.)