Wednesday, June 29, 2011


My parents were both elementary school teachers; my father became a District Supervisor and my mother became a school Principal. They were both very proud of their roles in providing the young the initial, fundamental, or elementary skills necessary to obtain an education either from others or by themselves.

Indeed, learning the skills of Reading, ‘Riting, and ‘Rithmetic are the necessary tools to obtain data, information, knowledge, and wisdom. Master the 3 Rs and nothing can stop you from obtaining as much content be they general or specialized at any level. With patience, industry, time and a conscientious effort, the sky is the limit for those who desire knowledge and wisdom.

My barber and I share and love to quote this Ilocano proverb: “Awan kas iti sursuro a sanikua, ta dayta awan makatakaw kenka.” It is translated in English as: “Knowledge is the wealth that cannot be stolen from you.”

Aristotle said, “All men by nature desire to know” while Josh Billings declared, “Knowledge is like money, the more he gets, the more he craves.”

The belief that education is the best inheritance that parents could bequeath to their children also reaffirms the similar belief that knowledge is power and the best defense against the onslaught of oppressive tyrants.

A thirst and hunger for knowledge is as much a thirst and hunger for drink, food, wealth and even glory. We go to school to satisfy such yearning.


When I first came to Washington, D.C. as a young student, I always thought that it was the best place to study, graduate and work. This was before the popularity of the internet, the search engines and the digital gadgets. Searching for data, information, intelligence and knowledge for any field of discipline and for any geographic location in the United States, in the world and even in the universe, the place to be was in the Washington, D.C. area. The Library of Congress has almost all the books, newspapers, magazines and other publications published in the world. The National Archives has historical files and documents about any important event in the U.S. and world history. Both the State and Commerce departments have country desks dealing with each country where tremendous data and information about such country are stored and made accessible and available to research students and / or to the public. Add the declassified documents and files at the Central Intelligence Agency, and anyone curious, thirsty and hungry for knowledge would have an almost unlimited source.

None of the arguments in favor of Yale, Harvard, and Stanford even with their large endowments could convince me that the resources of the said universities could match the institutions, resources and the convenience that a university such as American University, George Washington U and/or Georgetown U which are located in D.C. offer. The best of experts in all fields working for the U.S. Federal Government are available for consultation and sometimes for part-time teaching. Internships and eventual employment would be easier to find.

Then came what we now call the digital age which brought first the computers, then the internet which connects everyone worldwide, then electronic organizers, eBook readers and mobile devices. Web sites, eBooks, eLibraries, and multimedia contents such as video and audio files have been made available in the web. Fortunately, my favorite search engine named Google also came into play.

The truth is, the Net and Google changed my outlook. The contents which were originally hard copies and made available only physically, are now made available digitally and in the internet. Also, my daughter, Traci Maynigo went to Yale University, wrote her first book with a funding grant while at Yale and got her first job as an Editor with the help of a Yale alumna. You cannot underestimate the value of networking between and among Yale Alumnae. Only recently, an updated version of her Yale book, “A Girl’s Guide to College: Making the Most of the Best Four Years of Your Life”, was the No. 1 Best Selling Book for the young adult at


Now, over 67% of internet users utilize Google. If you are searching for data and information, Google proves to be a good assistant. Bing/Yahoo search engines are also quite effective so nobody is stopped from using them too. Of course, if you want your contents available to be searched by most of the internet users, plan it so that they would be so. I chose my blogs ( to be published by Google’s blogspot for that purpose. Because about half of the issues I discuss are about the Philippines, I also selected Asian Journal to publish my articles because the paper is distributed in Southern California where most of the Filipinos in the United States are. Its digital edition is also online. My Facebook friends and their friends if they repost, and my Twitter followers also have access to the same articles.

Through Google, you will find that the Philippines is known for being the Text Capital, Facebook Capital and Twitter Capital of the world. Just recently, the country has also become the Call Center Capital of the world. Yet, only about 29% of the total population has internet access.  I will let you figure out why.


I attended the first conferences that started the development of eBooks, eLibraries and eBook Readers. My company obtained  the license to manufacture the eBookMan which was the predecessor of Kindle. We also produced the first electronic libraries for lawyers, doctors and other fields of discipline in Asia. “Library in your Pocket, Knowledge at your Fingertips” and “You can now take the law into your own hands” were catch phrases we used to promote our contents.

Now it has become a battle among the handheld gadgets. For the smart phones, the competition is  among IPHONES, Android phones and Windows 7/Symbian phones. For the tablets, IPADS currently dominate the browsing usage market with 92% share while the Samsung Galaxy, Motorola Xoom and Blackberry Playbook capture the balance.

With the desktops, laptops and the handheld gadgets, downloading contents from the web, electronic libraries are now available offline as well as online and searchable also via Google Desktop. Of course, with data plans or through WI FI, the gadgets can always search the web.


The ultimate goal is to obtain Wisdom. Google is not limited to the search for data and information which usually answers what Russell Ackoff, a systems theorist and professor of organizational change calls, the Who, What, Where and When. It is also about search for the application of such data and information. It answers the How and for that it becomes knowledge. But knowledge has to be understood. By understanding it, it becomes not only cognitive but analytical as well. The process allows you to synthesize new knowledge from the previously held knowledge. It answers the Why.

When a searcher is required to discern, or judge between good and bad, right and wrong, we call that process as Wisdom. The greater the amount of data, information and knowledge obtained and understood the greater the probability of exercising Wisdom.

Wise men meditate and pray for spiritual guidance aside from analyzing all the facts made available to them when making major decisions

Google is also a great tool for the search for TRUTH. That’s why the Vatican has a website, and I now follow Pope Benedict XIV on Twitter.

On the issues of Marcos Fake Medals and Burial @LNMB, my barber searched via Google the following: Marcos Fake Medals; Marcos Burial at LNMB; Take it from my barber; and Benjamin Maynigo.

He likes the results. Why don’t you do the same? Do it with the Google Wonder Wheel search tool and see what happens.

In the Super 5G I trust!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

PNoy: 4 H and the E-Gen

During the last Presidential elections I had this to say as I announced my support for Noynoy Aquino:

I belong to what I call 4H and E-Generation. I am one of those who want a President who brings Honesty, Humility, Honor and Hope to his job. I am one who is deeply concerned with Education, Economic growth (employment, entrepreneurship, equity expansion), Electronic media or communications, Environment, Empowerment, Enlightenment, Energy Independence, Excellent Health Care, Electoral Reforms and Effective Security Force.

My horse has the breeding I want. From Cory, he inherited Honesty and Humility. From Ninoy, he got Hope and martyrdom. From both, he will bring Honor to his country. On the reforms needed to satisfy the E-Generation, he has a built-in Platform of Government. It is a product of the People Power revolution, written by wise men personally chosen by CORY, and approved, ratified and therefore, co-owned by the Filipino people. It is clear, brief and concise. It is executable, enforceable, mandatory and supreme. It is backed by implementing statutes, adhering legislation, accompanying executive orders, regulations and jurisprudence. It is protected and defended by the Armed Forces and police agencies as well as adhered to by every executive, legislative and judicial officer. It is the CORY CONSTITUTION. Others are encouraged to adopt it too but at this point of our history, the best person trusted to execute, enforce, obey, protect and defend it, is Cory’s son, NOYNOY.”

Noynoy is now PNoy – a name that carries major responsibilities, endowed with tremendous powers and resources but requires the greatest, noblest and an almost infinite, indefinable commitment.

Indeed, the hopes and aspirations of an almost desperate people lie on a leader who is perceived as honest, humble and honorable.

Such hope and expectation was reflected initially in a favorable rating so high it is impossible to hold. After about a year at the Presidential helm, understandably his ratings came down to 64%.

The political critics or what my barber calls, “negativists” focused on the fact that it came down - from “extremely high” to “very high”. The latter differs from a “positivist” who claims that based on the latest survey, the chances of a politician improved from “none” to “slim”.

When President Barack Obama announced the killing of Osama Bin Laden, his favorable went up to 52% after a few days. The Democrats and his political consultants were ecstatic. The media was predicting Obama to be unbeatable in his re-election campaign.

PNoy gets 64% and his critics say he is failing? Viewed another way is, with ratings like that, his chances of failing changed from none to slim.

PNoy’s presidency did not really start in full gear from Day 1. He had to form a team beset with initial problems caused by intense lobbying and pressure from all sectors and interest groups. He also had to deal with a bureaucracy and a judiciary that were installed and nurtured by the corrupt previous administration and protected by civil service and other laws.

The first few months were mostly learning experiences that generated good achievements. He formed a team composed of mostly honest, humble, honorable and dedicated men and women. His Justice team led by Secretary de Lima is incorruptible; his Finance and Economic team of Secretaries Purisima (Finance), Panderanga (NEDA), Abad (Budget) and Domingo (Trade) are all men of unquestioned integrity and honesty; his Infrastructure team of Secretaries de Jesus, now Roxas (DOTC) and Singson (Public Works) also have a record of honest and untainted performance; his Local government team led by Secretary Robredo, a Magsaysay Awardee has a reputation for honesty and integrity; and his Social Services Team of Secretary Soliman and PCSO Chief Juico are also known as dedicated and honest public servants.

Of course, his Education team of Secretaries Luistro (Education) and Licuanan (CHED) are undeniably competent and honest. Even the Chair of COA (which is an independent Constitutional Commission) Heidi Mendoza  is a courageous and honest fighter; the team in PCGG composed of idealistic young lawyers is led by incorruptible Dean Bautista.

I do not know the other members of the PNoy team personally but if those that I mentioned are any indication, I trust that they are of the same caliber.

But my point really is, with a team like the above, there is a greater probability of achieving the goals of “Walang Corrupt, Walang Mahirap”.

Let us look at the economic front under PNoy. Former NEDA Secretary Cielito Habito under the Ramos Administration coined the word “Aquinomics” to describe the economic situation under Aquino. He says that “economics of business confidence” is currently driving the economy under Aquino’s leadership. Over the past four quarters, growth in private domestic investment has been consistently surging, based on the quarterly National Income Accounts. This investment surge comes after many years of relative stagnation.........What is remarkable about the investment growth we are seeing lately is that it comes in the face of a significant drop in foreign direct investments (FDI). And yet, overall investment has jumped 37 percent, implying that domestic investments must have jumped by much more, far overcoming the foreign investment decline. What makes it even more remarkable is that the public component of domestic investment (government construction) also suffered a deep decline of 37.3 percent. Again, private domestic investments must have increased so much that not even this steep fall prevented total investment from surging the way it did.”

Habito, who was a very successful Economic Secretary of Ramos further says that Aquinomics could also stand for “economics of fiscal responsibility”. He went on to explain that Aquino’s government has been on an “underspending” spree resulting in a rare budget surplus instead of the usual budget deficit. “They have found that they don’t have to spend as much as the former government would have, to accomplish as much. He specified Secretary Rogelio Singson’s Public Works and Highways department as “one of the biggest culprits in underspending. For one thing, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson has significantly reduced allowable “indirect costs,” including contractors’ profit margins (and quite likely the so-called “bukol”), in public works projects. Coupled with a strict policy on transparent public bidding, the agency boasts of more than P2 billion in savings from 2,797 projects over the past year.”

While other departments are reducing costs, the Finance Department of Secretary Cesar Purisima through the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs have increased their collections in record numbers since almost a decade.

A substantial number of tax evasion cases and investigations have also been filed and /or initiated.

You cannot but conclude that these initial achievements are the results of good and honest governance. I hope to be able say, “you ain’t seen nothin’ yet”, but only time will tell.

If the 4Hs (Honesty, Humility, Honor, Hope) continue to permeate body and spirit of PNoy and his team in the next few years, “Walang Corrupt, Walang Mahirap”, could happen sooner than we expect.

Monday, June 13, 2011

PNoy and the Battle of Expectations

In an excellent report befitting a great journalist, Facebook friend Raissa Robles wrote that President Fidel Ramos and Imelda Marcos had a deal regarding the burial of Ferdinand Marcos. The following link:  shows that Ramos agreed to the return of Marcos’ remains to the Philippines on three pre-conditions:

1.      Marcos will be flown directly to Ilocos for burial there;
2.      Marcos will be buried immediately; and
3.      Marcos will be buried with military honors befitting the claimed Marcos’ rank as a Major.

Ramos claimed that nos. 1 and 3 were fulfilled but no. 2 was not.

This report was sent to me by Raissa as a comment to my note entitled “Letter to President Noynoy Aquino”

In response to her comment I wrote;

“Hi Raissa,
Thanks for the info on President Ramos’ agreement with Imelda which the latter failed to fully fulfill. Ramos is still alive. It would be good to get confirmation from him. If he confirms:
PNoy either agrees with the Ramos deal or not.
If he agrees with it, he can seek specific performance – meaning ask Imelda and her family to bury Marcos as soon as possible in a place of their choice in Ilocos Norte per agreement. Since Ramos claimed that the military had already given him military honors befitting  Marcos’ rank, then there is no need to provide him further military honors.
If PNoy disagrees, he can consider it invalidated by virtue of Imelda violating the terms or just disregard it.
He can also seek to modify the terms. He definitely cannot upgrade the honors to Full Military Honors as Binay is recommending. Ramos correctly interpreted the military rules by saying that Marcos is being given the honors befitting of his “claimed” rank, Major. What he was really saying was that only Commanding Officers of military units (Army Colonel or Navy Captain and above) are entitled to receive Full Military Honors. Since Marcos claimed he was an Army Major (which is still a mystery as to how and when he got promoted from 2nd Lieutenant at the beginning of the war to Major at the end, and who promoted him), then he qualifies only to receive the Standard Military Honors. The exception would have been if he died in combat. Ramos also knew that a 2nd Lieutenant also gets Standard Military Honors which Marcos supposedly got. Befitting indeed!
PNoy can also just say to the Marcos family, please go ahead and bury Marcos the way you want, organize and initiate whatever ceremonies you wish with no State intervention or sanction. He just can not add anything more substantively or ceremonially to what Ramos had already given – no more no less.
He must be warned. Ramos proved that Imelda and her family cannot be trusted. This could be extended to some loyalists like Congressman Escudero who said, “Whatever PNoy decides now, so be it. But it can always be changed in 5 or 10 years.” In short, we see a scenario whereby Marcos’ remains could be transferred from one place to another depending on who is in power. With a family and friends like he has, Marcos will never rest in peace.”
Most recently, as a result of Raissa’s reporting President Ramos phoned her and talked to her for about two hours. She is still awaiting the transcripts of their conversation and will write more details later. However, the initial comment of President Ramos was Raissa’s report was “fairly accurate.” . 
I told Raissa that I can’t wait for her next article re details of her conversation with President Ramos.
The terms of this deal which are “fairly accurate” were reached with the following background:
1)                  President Ramos is an Ilocano;
2)                  President Ramos is a relative of Marcos; and
3)                  President Ramos is a soldier who served as AFP Deputy Chief of Staff of Marcos and Chief of the Philippine Constabulary (now Philippine National Police).
It was therefore expected that Ramos was a little more biased in favor of granting Marcos satisfactory if not better benefits. Hence, the agreed terms.
PNoy is now called upon to negotiate or decide a deal with Imelda and her family with the following background:
1)                 PNoy is not an Ilocano
2)                 PNoy is not a relative of Marcos;
3)                 PNoy is not a soldier;
4)                 PNoy’s father, Ninoy Aquino, was illegally detained for several years by Marcos;
5)                 PNoy’s father helped prove that Marcos was no hero and no be-medaled soldier;
6)                 PNoy’s father was murdered under the very noses of Marcos’ military;
7)                 PNoy saw his mother suffer, mourn and shed tears;
8)                 PNoy witnessed Marcos exiling Ninoy and the Aquino family;
9)                 PNoy witnessed Marcos cheating his mother in the Presidential elections;
10)             PNoy witnessed his mother, Ramos, Erap, GMA refusing to bury Marcos at the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani as a hero;
11)             PNoy knows that he got elected as President to uphold  his parents’ ideals; and
12)             PNoy knows that he has been mandated to continue the unfinished People Power Revolution led by his mother.
PNoy is therefore expected to be biased as he has already admitted publicly. It would not be surprising therefore, that he will rule strictly against any more honor or benefits to be bestowed on Marcos.  In fact, he is even expected to reverse, if empowered, and to recover whatever material, financial, and immaterial benefits that accrued to the Marcoses as a result of their corrupt, cruel and brutal dictatorial regime.
Most importantly, PNoy should act as the principled and uncompromising leader his parents inspired him to be, and the majority of the Filipino people expected him to be.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Dear Mr. President:

Based on leaked reports, Vice President Jejomar Binay has already submitted his recommendations on the burial of Marcos to you. What is being floated is that Binay recommended the following: 1) Marcos should be buried ASAP; 2) he should NOT be buried at the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani; 3) he should be buried in Ilocos Norte; and 4) he should be buried with Full Military Honors.

For fear that you might misconstrue silence as acquiescence to Binay’s entire proposal; the undersigned would like to express his views for all they are worth.

The undersigned worked with your father, Senator Raul Manglapus, Colonel Boni Gillego, John Sharkey of the Washington Post, Dr. Arturo Taca of St. Louis, Mo. and others in proving to the world that Marcos was no hero and a soldier who the U.S. military claimed to have committed “fraudulent, absurd, preposterous and malicious criminal acts.”

Your father and the undersigned acted as signatory witnesses to the signed testimonies of  Commandant Colonel Romulo Manriquez and Adjutant General Captain Vicente Rivera of the 14th Infantry Division, USAFP – NL, under whom Marcos served which proved that Marcos’ claim of heroism in Kiangan, Mt. Province were false and fabricated.

While the undersigned agrees with Vice President Binay with respect to recommendations 1, 2 & 3, he disagrees with the recommendation that Marcos should be buried with Full Military Honors.

If Marcos is disqualified from being buried at LNMB, he is also disqualified from being buried with Full Military Honors for the same reasons and more. The attempt of a political compromise by going around the objections to a hero’s burial through the military route is legally, morally, and even practically unsound.

VP Binay is banking on the fact that since Marcos was a soldier enlisted by the Philippine Commonwealth Army under the Command of the U.S. Military Forces, he is entitled to at least standard military honors. And since he was a Former President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, he is entitled to Full Military Honors.

There are several laws, military rules and jurisprudence that you could rely on to support a fair judgment. As I explained in my letter to Binay ( ), Philippine Laws (Republic Act 289) and AFPR G 161 374, disqualify Marcos to be buried at LNMB or any National Cemetery/Pantheon. Under the rules, because he was dishonorably deposed as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and as a Dictator through the People Power Revolution, he is also disqualified from receiving Full Military Honors.

Having served as a soldier under the United States Armed Forces, Marcos’ burial benefits as well as military honors could be subjected also to American standards, rules and jurisprudence. Title 10 Sections 985 and 1491 and Title 38 Section 2411 of the United States Code and the Timothy McVeigh case could guide you. The fact that Marcos or somebody was a soldier does not guarantee military honors. By the time of burial, it must be shown that the soldier did not dishonor his country and is not found guilty of any crime against his fellow citizens and/or the nation. If no trial is held because of death but some clear and convincing evidence proving guilt existed, he would still be disqualified from any military honors.

Terrorist Timothy McVeigh was a soldier who fought for his country. But he killed innocent civilians, dishonoring his country and the military which is duty-bound to protect civilians. He was disqualified from receiving military honors.

In the U.S. Military Archives, the following historical documents can be found:

(1)                            that the U.S. Court of Claims found that Marcos’ reparation claims for the commandeering of his alleged 2,366 heads of cattle was false and therefore, rejected;

(2)                            that U.S. Military investigation found that Marcos’ claim for back pay benefits for his alleged guerrilla unit, “Ang Maharlika” were  “fraudulent, absurd, preposterous and malicious criminal acts.”

(3)                            disproving that Marcos’ claims for awards and medals did not exist and his alleged heroic acts in specific events never happened;

(4)                            that Marcos had written documents favorable to the Japanese Occupation forces and derogatory to the U.S. Government.

In the U.S. Court System, on record is a decision by a Hawaii court ruling that victims-plaintiffs of human rights violations during the Marcos dictatorship were entitled to $2 billion compensation from the Marcos ill gotten wealth that may be recovered. In fact, it was later followed by another decision to distribute $7.5 million compensation to 7,500 victims.

Clearly, under U.S. military rules, Marcos who served as a soldier under the U.S. Armed Forces is not qualified to receive any military honor. A fortiori, (with more reason), he is not entitled to Full Military Honors which is usually given to regular soldiers who died in combat.

Under Marcos, 60,000 Filipinos were kidnapped, illegally detained, and tortured. Many of the women including the current Chairman of the Commission on Human Rights were repeatedly raped by the military. Many disappeared and up to this day remain missing. Several were killed and “salvaged”. The Task Force for Detainees of the Association of Major Religious Superiors, the Amnesty International, the Red Cross and the U.S. State Department detailed and documented these atrocities. Under the Principle of Command Responsibility enunciated in the Yamashita case and in Aberca, et al vs. Ver, et al, Marcos is as guilty as those who actually committed the offenses.

Citing “violations of human rights” is too vague for the Filipino people to visualize and comprehend. But specifically describing, in all multimedia formats, the gruesome details that Marcos and his partners in crime did to these victims would make the nation realize that Marcos deserves no honor – military or otherwise.

The details would also show that Marcos and his cohorts committed not only offenses involving moral turpitude but most especially crimes against humanity. For these, not only is he disqualified to receive Full Military Honors under Philippine and U.S. military rules, he is disqualified under International Law as well.

Marcos closed Congress during Martial Law. People Power reopened it. Yet, 216 Congressmen want to bury him as a hero.

Marcos grabbed TV and radio stations, closed newspapers, and illegally imprisoned publishers and journalists. People Power reinstituted Freedom of the Press. Yet, the beneficiaries failed to inform and educate the current generation of these experiences so that they will not happen again. Worse, many who never saw Marcos alive and were never informed of his misdeeds are ignorantly willing to bury him as a hero.

Marcos castrated the judiciary, placing the tenure of judges at his capricious disposal. People Power made it more independent. Yet for the human rights victims, for the recovery of ill-gotten wealth, for the prosecution of corrupt officials under Marcos, the wheels of justice have been slow;

Marcos transformed the Armed Forces into his private army. He used them to massacre Filipino Muslim brothers, and non-Muslim Filipinos who were fighting for social justice. As a consequence, he caused the death of thousands of young Filipino soldiers. People Power returned the Armed Forces into professional stature. Now it is being called upon to provide military honors to him.

Your predecessors including your own mother had the opportunity to bury Marcos as a hero or with military honors. All of them never did. It was the wise and right thing to do.

Since you are called upon to make a decision, understandably aware of your bias, the undersigned suggests the following: you agree to bury Marcos as soon as possible in Ilocos Norte (not in Libingan Ng Mga Bayani) as recommended by VP Binay but without military honors.

You will not, however, object to any ceremonies that the Marcos family and their loyal friends may organize or initiate in his honor as they finally make him rest in peace.

If 216 Congressmen decide to honor him by signing a resolution to be read at the burial, it is their prerogative - in the same way that it is ours to organize an alternative Congress as provided for in the Cory Constitution using the People’s Initiative. It could also be opportune to transfer pork barrel funds to compensate human rights victims and to reinforce local development projects.

In God We Trust and In You We Bank Our Hopes!

Benjamin G. Maynigo

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

CONRADO F. ESTRELLA: Hero and Pride of Rosales, Pangasinan

Sometime in October, 1999 I created a website called ( . It was meant to honor national heroes, martyrs, patriots and Filipinos in history. But I also added new categories such as hometown heroes, heroes in every field of discipline and of course, my hero. The idea was that while the National Historical Commission, Bantayog Ng Mga Bayani and the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani took care of the national heroes, the local folks may have a different take. The residents of the town know more about who would be considered as heroes in their town. Of course, an individual may also have a different view, hence- my  hero. This was before Facebook, Twitter and other social media networks became popular. In fact, this was on TV as I announced it a few days before All Saints Day that year. (The website is currently under reconstruction but I hope to be able to upload it soon.) 

I just found out that Lakay Condring or former Pangasinan Governor Conrado F. Estrella was finally called by God to join Him. My sincerest condolences go to his family. I offer my  prayers as he enters the Pearly Gates of Heaven.

Lakay Condring as a national hero will be judged by history. There are enough reasons and justification for his inclusion. It will probably take a little time to compile the historical files and documentation gathered, researched and written by historians to support such an inclusion. But as a hometown hero, as a hero in the field of public service and as a hero of certain  individuals who have had direct exposure to his heroic qualities and traits, we do not have to wait.

Governor Estrella (his preferred title) was indeed a hero and pride of my town, Rosales, Pangasinan. What he has achieved in the political arena and public service, no other resident has ever achieved and no one may ever will. He was a great Mayor of Rosales, loved by the people and destined for higher glories. Discovered by President Ramon Magsaysay as someone who resembled him as a “man of the masses”, he nurtured Lakay Condring as the latter climbed to Governorship within a very short period of time. I have always wondered what would have happened if Magsaysay did not die in that plane crash. We know how the Province of Pangasinan was effectively and efficiently run under Estrella’s regime. How far could Magsaysay have nurtured and prepared him for a higher national Chief Executive position?

The ascendancy of Governor Estrella also meant the ascendancy of Rosales residents. I remember as a young Boy Scout while attending the provincial jamboree in Lingayen, I went to visit the Governor’s office at the Princess Urduja building. It was full of people but when I mentioned to the staff assistant that I was from Rosales, I suddenly received first class service. I also found out that most of the employees in the office were from our town.

The Governor was a basketball player and buff. When I was in the Pangasinan Basketball Team that won the Central Luzon Athletic Association meet in Balanga, Bataan, he sought us out. When he found out that I was from Rosales, he made sure that we had a picture together with my gold medal. The picture is still in an old scrapbook of mine in the Philippines.

In college I became a student activist fighting for social, economic and political reforms. At that time, Governor Estrella was the Agrarian Reform Secretary. I remember having several encounters with him on opposite sides. One was in Isla Puting Bato and Don Bosco, Tondo. I was helping the squatters in preparing for their march to Malacanang bringing their “barong-barong” huts and camping at Mendiola in front of the palace. He was there to assuage and discourage the leader, Resty de Leon who was from Pangasinan. He saw me and even told Resty that we were town mates. He was there to relay Marcos’ offer that the titles to the lots would be transferred to the squatters.

Another instance was when my youth group joined the Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) in the march from Agrifina Circle to Malacanang. Secretary Estrella arranged a dialog between Marcos and some leaders of FFF. When the Secretary opened the gates, all  of us barged into the palace grounds and into the Malacanang hall. He was always respected by the farmers and their leaders so when he requested them to keep still and he would call Marcos, they did. When he and Marcos came back, he saw me again and somehow he managed to ask me to join him and introduced me to Marcos as a town mate of his.

When I was President of the Rizalinian Civic Association (RCA), I invited Raul S. Manglapus as a guest speaker. When Secretary and Congressman Bobby Estrella found out about the former coming to Rosales, they offered the Secretary’s residence for Manglapus to stay which he did. The latter authored the original Land Reform Code which DAR Secretary Estrella was implementing.

A few years after the People Power Revolution, I had the chance to see him again. First was when I negotiated the deal that brought Frank Sinatra to  Manila. I was honored to invite him as a special guest. Accompanying him on front row were his sister, and his daughter Bernie.

When my father-in-law, Raul Manglapus, died, he was at the wake in the Ateneo de Manila University chapel. I was glad to have spent some time with him  talking about Rosales and what he and Manglapus had in common, especially with respect to the welfare of the farmers. Again, it struck me. What they actually had in common was President Ramon Magsaysay. What if?

I met him again later at the house of his daughter Bernie. He was always friendly, charming and disarming. He even asked me to become a member of PHILCONSA (Philippine Constitution Association). He was already the Chairman of the Association. He was the only non-lawyer I know who gained full knowledge of the Philippine Constitution, vowed to protect it and even led the association that defends it.

“What we are is a gift given to us by God. What we become is our gift to God.” Governor Estrella was provided by God great talents to govern and to serve other men. His achievements in life – as a Mayor, Governor, Agrarian Reformer and defender of the Philippine Constitution cannot be ignored. His success as a parent could be seen through the children that he raised.

The only Rosalenian or Rosaleno I know who has been conferred six honorary doctorate degrees (honoris causa) by prestigious universities and colleges in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, Dr. Conrado F. Estrella understood the value of education. He was an avid student of history and in fact, obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in History.

With his historic contributions to society, especially to the people of Rosales, he himself will soon be part of that history written for this current and future generation to emulate.

With what he has become, he is also a great gift to God.