(A reprint from the Philippine Daily Inquirer) The Governor of the Province of Pangasinan, Amado T. Espino Jr., always had a hard time explaining to guests how the provincial capitol was once a virtual garbage dump, the building and facilities in an advanced state of disrepair and decay.
The place, overlooking historic Lingayen Bay, was utterly unfit for official habitation.
“It’s now called the Malacanang of the North,” said Butch Velasco, provincial information officer.
Long given up for lost, the capitol has also risen majestically from a wasteland into a humble display window of dignity and quiet elegance.
“It’s a must-see for visitors of the province,” Velasco explained.
He said the architecture—“French-influenced but Filipino inspired”—mounted mainly on hardwood, was a personal choice of the Governor.
What’s truly inspiring was the absence of loudness–common in residences built courtesy of OFM remittances–along provincial highways and interior roads in the North.
Instead of scream about successful governance and flaunt the financial success in the province, the capitol has been turned into a symbol of honest dedication.
The truth, explained the provincial information officer, was that the renaissance had needed a firm revolutionary hand.
Invitation to a quiet revolt
An info sheet on Gov. Espino said he “translates great adversities into golden opportunities.”
Here are some little-known pogi points on Espino, courtesy of his information officer: “A graduate of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), he engaged enemies of the state, was ambushed and left for dead by a company of the New People’s Army led by Kumander Dante. After landing in the ICU and 18 months of medical care, he formed a special task force of 14 men and captured Kumander Dante. His hits included other insurgents and drug lords, feats that earned him several spot promotions. He was awarded the Gold Cross Medal, the highest military honor.”
The information officer stressed that Espino has always maintained great standards of excellence in whatever he does.
But enough this: Allow me to instead confess that your reporter here was abducted last weekend by two friends, national cycling great Jesus Garcia Jr. and veteran news correspondent Jun Velasco.
We had a short drive from Mangaldan and, before I knew it, there was Gov. Espino extending his hand in warm welcome.
The meeting place was surrounded by water, and we had to take a short bridge.
I didn’t know exactly what that meeting with the Governor was all about.
For starters, Gov. Espino introduced his guests to the broiled sinungayan fish, whose intestines, the liver mainly, he claimed to be a tested main source of virility.
For the record, Gov. Espino was most thankful for a previous column wherein his plans for setting up a sports academy in Pangasinan had been mentioned.
I told him that, frankly, a sports academy–a training and learning institute–is no kid stuff.
He said he got doubly convinced about setting up an independent sports academy after his successful staging of the Palarong Pambansa in Pangasinan.
He said he was aghast after witnessing first hand the disunity among national sports leaders.
He also noticed the lack of a proper outlook and philosophy that should be the guide posts to a successful Olympic quest.
By the way, Espino happened to be a top-rate flyweight boxer during his years at the PMA.
He noted the visible lack of proper measurement and science among national boxers.
“We will be needing sports medicine, with specialists like Dr. Raul Canlas, in the academy,” he explained.
No, he’s not planning a coup, but honestly wants to introduce revolutionary changes in the national sports set-up; although he happened to an original member of the RAM together with now Sen. Gringo Honasan
“I just hate it when they say that winning an Olympic gold medal would cure all the raging disunity, the assorted ills in Philippine sports,” he groaned.