WHEN the regular Philippine government was restored in 1946 following the declaration on July 4th of the country’s independence, Angeles leaders started erecting political fences.
In the local election, a venerable town physician, Jose Pangilinan humbled the upcoming political star of the day, Manuel Abad Santos, popularly known as ‘Maning Pitot’ for he around on a single leg. The other one was lost as a result of a barroom shooting brawl during his youth. He was aptly described as the only mayor ‘with one legs but with two wives’.
In the 1951 elections, Pangilinan took on a new opponent. Jose Pelayo was another physician who entered politics. He won in the 1947 vice mayoral race. He defeated Pablo Del Rosario, Pangilinan’s running mate. Doc Pelayo name was not only a byword in Angeles but in the whole province as well. His political star was brightly shining in those years. Political brokers saw Pelayo as a potential mayoral candidate and persuaded him to break away from the Abad Santos group to engage the latter in the 1951 mayoral contest. Pelayo wasn’t lucky enough. Abad Santos won.
In the late fifties another figure surfaced in the Angeles political landscape. Rafael Del Rosario Sr.a young lawyer with a socialist background. His father Agapito was also a former mayor of the town in the early forties but died only after two years in the office, the mother of Rafael was socialist amazon Felicidad Sicangco.
Angeles never had a mayor like Del Rosario who enjoyed an unprecedented combined support from the urban mass, professionals and businessmen. But his popularity was not even enough to achieve a third reelection because the HMB under then Faustino Del Mundo alias Commander Sumulong reportedly supported his opponent, Eugenio Suarez, a scion of the landed Henson clan of Angeles. Suarez only served one term for he was trounced by the coming back Rafael Lazatin who in his early outings was defeated by Francisco G. Nepomuceno.
Nepomuceno won in the 1980 mayoral elections but was defeated in the 1988 elections by another rising political star, Antonio Abad Santos the sone of the late ‘Maning Putot’.
Back to Suarez who got the HMB backing in defeating Rafael Del Rosario Sr. in the 1967 polls. He didn’t see the proper take off of the city development plans because of the dissidents’ interference. The man was imbued with a strong sense of loyalty to the Angelenos and was packed with enthusiasm and energy to discharge his functions. His political promises hardly kept, his personal programs thwarted on many sides. Suarez was deeply frustrated. He was one man who rode on a tiger.
Armando ‘Doy’ Nepomuceno, a relative of Francisco G. Nepomuceno, wrote about the latter as an easy going person. This was reflected on the way he runs his campaign against Rafael Lazatin in the early years when they slugged it out for the governorship. The same also when he run the Angele City government- the ‘same informal and shoulder patting person to person small talks. He was so well loved by the poor constituents. But his appeal to the masses wasn’t enough in the fire eating oratory of Tony Abad Santos alias ‘Bubusok’.
(Next: More about the Angeles elections)