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Monday, August 19, 2019

Sangil: The political rise of Rafael Lazatin

THE year was 1934. Relative peace reigned in the whole country. There was tranquility in the countryside, except for isolated marauding raids of brigands that disrupted the rustic life. The era was nostalgically referred to as "peace time." In Angeles town, equally enjoyed a condition of remarkable peace, its politicos though were locked in bitter partisanship and the ceaseless strife of politics.

Then Mayor Ricardo Nepomuceno was allied with the influential Dayrit clan personified by Don Clemente. Political rivalry oftentimes resulting in hotly contested fights. The politicos even in those were already locked in bitter partisanship, which resulted in ceaseless political strife.

A young businessman-agriculturist Rafael Lazatin was persuaded to run for the town council. In that local election, Lazatin grabbed the number one slot. Thus started his political career, it was eclipsed by the start of World War in 1941. In 1946, immediately after the liberation of the country from the Japanese invaders, President Manuel Roxas appointed Lazatin as acting town mayor.

When Rafael Lazatin took the reins of the town government that year, dissident elements were freely roaming all over town, even managing control posts on many occasions. Upon assuming office he told his cabalens he would pursue his duties free from pressure and would not hesitate to use force if necessary to rid the town of lawless elements.

A dissident group led by one Felicidad Sicangco, alias Commander Sisang, heeded Lazatin’s call for peace. A tranquil atmosphere ushered an era of relative prosperity for Angeles. Free spending American servicemen and their dependents from the nearby Clark Field the enjoyable life offered by the town. Eateries, kiosks, theaters, bars and nightclubs started to dot the town landscape.

Lazatin’s style of leadership endeared him to the people and caught the attention of national politicians who then hatching up grand plans for him by appealing to his vanity. The Nacionalista Party leadership wanted him to run for mayor in 1947 elections but he refused. This time, he was determined to stay out of politics as he deeply missed the idyllic farm life where he wanted to devote his full time to agriculture.

His grandfather, Don Esteban gave Rafael’s father, Trinidad some 40 hectares of land to cultivate when he married Leoncia Laxamana. And the couple Trinidad and Leoncia bequeathed some parcels to Rafael. And farming was the first love of Rafael. Though he graduated with a commerce degree from the Jose Rizal College, his real love was agriculture.

More than ever, Lazatin was resolute to relish the joys of farm life and forget his brief stint as acting Angeles mayor. He believed as his wife Loreto Feliciano did that politics is not for the family. Husband and wife are now blessed with two kids, Carmelo aka Tarzan and Victoria.

But one destiny can’t be forestalled. Politics beckoned him and he responded well, goaded by his loyal supporters. Then Pampanga Governor Urbano Dizon asked him to run as one of his two candidates. After the elections he was truly surprised of the results by having topped the polls despite his misgivings that he had yet to achieve political prominence at that time. (Next: The political rivalries of Lazatin, Jose B. Lingad of Lubao and Francisco G. Nepomuceno).
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