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 travelled to Taipei, threw dollars when painting the town red in the Peitu district. Rich families hired their maids from Taiwan and China. The 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.
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 Malacañang. 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.
Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., another Capampangan from Concepcion, Tarlac was Marcos’ fiercest critic and political arch rival. He was the most promising politician in the country in those years and was predicted to succeed Marcos. Members of the Liberal Party in Pampanga were already organizing groups and laying groundworks for the presidential run of Ninoy, but the declaration of martial law and the continued stay of Marcos till 1986 frustrated all efforts.