By MORTZ C. ORTIGOZA
Come election time, this first term mayor in Pangasinan will reap a landslide votes from his town’s voters.
Why? Everybody can go to his house 24 hours a day seven days a week and confide to him their problems from hospitalization to burial without any qualms.
The mayor said he shoulders half of the P8 thousand burial expenses, and give up to P3 thousand hospital bills to the needy.
“You sourced all of these from your town’s social funds?” I posed.
The down-to-earth hizzoner answered me in the negative.
He said his P600 thousand social funds were already depleted since February this year.
The money he selflessly spends for his indigent constituents comes from his pocket, the 4 percent SOP (moniker of illegal cut) his district congressman gives him to every project of the solon’s in his municipality, and the P9 thousand a day or P170 thousand a month payola from the illegal gambling jueteng .
“All of those monies I get from projects and jueteng, I gave them back to my people who need them badly,” he told me.
He said in case the former mayor of his town made a comeback, he should contend himself with the crumbs of votes as he used to monopolize for himself the financial spoils his office got when he was the mayor.
Solomonic (greedy), ha?
The event was the unveiling of the marker dedicated to former president Fidel V. Ramos, and the launching of the first San Roque reservoir boat at the San Roque Power Corporation in San Manuel, Pangasinan.
It was an event participated by a five-minute speech (as dictated by the event’s program) to each high roller government officials like Japan Ambassador Toshinao Urabe, president and Chief Executive Officer of SRPC; Mr. Froilan A. Tampingco, President, National Power Corporation, Pangasinan; Ryukichi Kawaguchi, President& CEO,SRPC;Governor Amado T. Espino, Benguet Governor Nestor. B. Fongwan, and others.
But the rule did not apply to the main guest former President Ramos, known as FVR , who has been given a 15 minute allowance. He wowed the crowd after he gave his signature EDSA Revolution’s jump after he was introduced by SRPC’s vice president for corporate affairs and renowned master of ceremony Tom Valdez.
But Governor Fongwan frustrated Ramos after he gnawed not only the 15 minutes allocation for the latter but even those five minute’s allocations given to the other VIP guests.
Fongwan’s “kilometric” speech was probably written by columnist Max Soliven.
He dissected the nuts and bolts of the shares of Real Property Tax and the Special Education fund from the earning his province Benguet gets from the SRPC that were reduced from 2 % to 1.1%, his beef how his province and his town Itogon are shortchanged in the distribution of revenues from the SRPC, and other digs he articulated through his legal prowess.
This irked President Ramos who impatiently and incessantly biting his cigar and eventually stood up and went to the seat of Benguet Vice Governor Crescencio C. Pacalso by telling him in Ilocano like “napudot(hot) and commanded him like what general do to his colonels to stop Fongwan’s lengthy verbal exhibition.
Everybody at the back seats laughed when the former president gestured by cutting his (FVR) throat to the amusement of the members of the provincial board of Benguet and other spectators.
FVR then went to have some niceties in Ilocanos with some folks at the back as the unwitting Governor Fongwan continued his sentiments.
And the raucous continued when FVR came to my seat when I asked him when I would give him my article in relation with my recent interview with him.
Instead he extended his right hand and hand locked my right hand by asking me to counter his gripped.
“You already know sir, I could not beat you ever since we had hand locked before,” I whispered to him as the crowd no longer looked at Governor Fongwan, who still delivered his legally loaded piece, but to our direction.
“ Kahit si Manny Pacquaio surrender dito (Even Manny Pacquiao (world class boxing champion) gave up on me),” Ramos told me.
FVR then asked his close-in bodyguard to get my folder that includes my article with him and my latest Q & A with former speaker Jose de Venecia on the South China Sea (See too next issue my Q & A with Ramos).
Thereafter the Benguet governor, who probably got wary with the demeanors of President Ramos to him, has returned to his seat.
When it was Ramos turn to speak, he said he would only speak in 5 minutes because Governor Fongwan consumed his 15 minutes allocation (crowd laughed again).
But it did not stop FVR to go 20 minutes impromptu. He dramatically threw at the gusty San Roque wind all the three sheets of folded papers he took from his front pants’ pocket by telling the crowd he no longer need them because it would consume more time at the expense of the crowd who endured in the noontime sun.
What amazed everybody about FVR during the entirety of his speech? He, clad in a long sleeve barong, spoke outside the sunbrella unmindful of the scorching noontime heat.
This made FVR a cut from the rest. All the preceding speakers spoke under the comfort of the sunbrella.
Despite the blistering sun he continued to cracked jokes, reminisced how as the then incumbent president of the land he helped conceive the SRPC, and the significance of the hydro-power plant to the need of the country that reeled on the power crises then.
This game demeanor made FVR a soldier's soldier. I saw these in the eyes of retired and active generals, officers, and enlisted men who were there.
This made him an Erwin Rommel and a Charlie Chaplain reincarnated — especially when he treated the hoi-polloi the great giant tilapias and the shark’s story him and former Speaker de Venecia cultured at the reservoir of SRMP.
Everybody had their hearty laughed on this anecdote.
(You can read my selected intriguing but thought-provoking columns at http://mortzortigoza.blogspot.com. You can send comments too at firstname.lastname@example.org).