Tony Ma­cali­nao should also write Gov. Badong’s bi­og­ra­phy

Palawan News - - OPINION - Win­ston Arzaga REST­LESS WIND

Such a man de­serves a full nar­ra­tive, not so much for what had be­come of him, but as a point of ref­er­ence for what could have been, as we strug­gle to make some­thing out of our own lives.

Manong Tony Ma­cali­nao should se­ri­ously con­sider writ­ing Gov. Badong’s bio af­ter the suc­cess of “My Haven,” his au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, which to a large ex­tent, traces his Palawan jour­ney with the late Gov­er­nor.

While Manong Tony could now sit on the suc­cess of his book, I would like to think he owes it to fu­ture gen­er­a­tions to tell the whole story of SPS (Sal­vador P. Socrates). As a prospec­tive bi­og­ra­pher, Manong Tony has one dis­tinct ad­van­tage: he has un­ham­pered ac­cess to the trea­sure trove of mem­o­ries of the Socrates fam­ily.

Socrates’ first foray into pol­i­tics in 1963 was a dis­mal fail­ure, los­ing the vice gu­ber­na­to­rial race to Nel Se­tias of Brooke’s Point. And to add to his po­lit­i­cal set­backs, his pa­tron, then Con­gress­man Gau­den­cio Abordo, lost his fifth re-elec­tion bid to Monch­ing Mi­tra in 1965. The young Mi­tra daz­zled Palaweños with his prom­ise to get Palawan mov­ing.

With Abordo’s de­feat, the Na­cional­ista Party was in dis­ar­ray and into a pe­riod of tran­si­tion. A new leader, Atty. Ven Chavez, claimed the man­tle of lead­er­ship of the party as he pre­pared for the 1967 elec­tions. But the Abordo fac­tion was wary of him as a leader, not be­ing a dyed-in-the-wool Palaweño. So off they went to NP Pres­i­dent Gil J. Puyat to set­tle the in­tra­mu­ral. But Puyat, in­stead of patch­ing-up party dif­fer­ences, pro­claimed Chavez in­stead as the of­fi­cial NP can­di­date for Gov­er­nor. De­jected and bit­ter for the rough treat­ment they got from the NP Pres­i­dent, the group was in a quandary, un­til Bal­abac Mayor Je­sus Aban, a close ally of Abordo, pro­posed that the young Socrates run for Gov­er­nor as an in­de­pen­dent can­di­date.

And so us­ing the “lantsa” of re-elec­tion­ist Board Mem­ber Vic Pa­gay­ona and with fuel pro­vided, on credit, by the Qui­cho fam­ily’s Cal­tex Sta­tion, the Socrates cam­paign was off to an in­aus­pi­cious start with Atty. Inigo “Tatang” Pena as the run­ning mate and Dr. Art Car­los as the other can­di­date for the Board Mem­ber.

That elec­tion was a wa­ter­shed in the po­lit­i­cal his­tory of the prov­ince. It was a four-cor­nered fight among in­cum­bent Gov­er­nor Te­les­foro Pare­des, a dis­grun­tled Lib­eral; in­cum­bent Vice Gov­er­nor Fran­cisco Ponce de Leon, the of­fi­cial LP can­di­date sup­ported by Cong. Mi­tra; and Atty. Ven Chavez of the NP.

To the sur­prise of many, the up­start can­di­date trounced the es­tab­lished politi­cians of his day, and thus ush­ered in his long reign as Gov­er­nor that would last un­til that fate­ful day in Ca­gayan­cillo in 2001. His only respite from pub­lic ser­vice was when he lost the gov­er­nor­ship to then-Vice Gov Nan­ing Ro­driguez in the first post-EDSA lo­cal elec­tion.

Gov. Socrates was a rar­ity. As a politi­cian, he was at home with a drink of “siok tong” with friends in re­mote barangays, as much as he was con­ver­sant with the lingo of tech­nocrats and its nu­ances.

All through the years, SPS had evolved into a skilled de­vel­op­ment man­ager and cham­pion of ru­ral de­vel­op­ment. As Deputy Min­is­ter of the then Min­istry of Lo­cal Govern­ment, his task was to run the Pro­vin­cial As­sis­tance De­vel­op­ment Pro­gram, a US AID chan­nel for pro­gram fund­ing. Socrates ran his own show with the whole of Mer­ry­land build­ing in E. Ro­driguez as his king­dom.

Such a man de­serves a full nar­ra­tive, not so much for what had be­come of him, but as a point of ref­er­ence for what could have been, as we strug­gle to make some­thing out of our own lives.

A Socrates bi­og­ra­phy could also be in­struc­tive for lead­ers in search of a hero at a time when pol­i­tics is in a state of flux, and in times of hope­less­ness when au­dac­ity and dar­ing are pre­mium qual­i­ties.

We can hardly wait for a copy.

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