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Bacolod City, Philippines Wednesday, November 13, 2019
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OPINIONS

A father and a son

Ninfa Leonardia

An icon of a self-made man, and the son of another one, both died recently, and I am sure that even those who did not know either of them personally, felt sad and in sympathy with their families. John Gokongwei, whose life story should be included in schoolbooks, was not a native Filipino, but in his lifetime left more contributions to the progress and development of our country than a lot of our own. When he died at the age of 93, he had created many landmarks, not only in business, but also in industries. His life in the Philippines started miserably, peddling items on the streets, but he left a conglomerate of projects behind.

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The other one was Lucio Tan Jr., son also of an illustrious father, who, like Gokongwei contributed much to the growth of our country with his magic touch in business that covered so many fields. His name has become a byword for success in any enterprise he attempted. But I am sure all those successes and accomplishments cannot diminish his sense of loss and grief at the loss his namesake, Lucio Tan Jr., better known as “Bong”, to distinguish them, who was right on track as far as his father’s footsteps were concerned. But alas, he too, lost his life, ironically, when he was playing basketball with his team, that showed how closely he worked with the employees of their various companies.

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Well, that is life, and we all know too well that one can never tell when our own time will come. Of course we cannot all hope to achieve what these two examples of grit and industry have left, but I hope how many will be inspired by their lives, especially their foresight and tenacity. The second example, especially, “Bong”, is one of the sons of a wealthy man, who did not just enjoy the fruits of his father’s labor, but tried to strike out on his own as well as preserve and pursue what their patriarch had began.

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Of course I do not personally know, nor have I met either of those two men I mentioned. But I hope their lives, as focused on by our media ever since their demise, will inspire children of other well-heeled families to follow their examples, and those of the very poor will be convinced that no matter how you started in this life, you can determine how it will end.

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So the National Movement for Free Election, or NAMFREL, is not happy about the move of Congress to postpone the barangay elections. The NAMFREL is right in saying that the government should not “trivialize” both the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections. The NAMFREL Secretary General, Eric Alvia noted that the election postponement was approved without even the Commission on Elections being consulted. Is that so? But isn’t it that even the Senate had approved the postponement? And why has Namfrel spoken up only now?

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What a coincidence! Last week I wrote in this column about my experience in Germany while being there shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Yesterday, I saw in the column of our former Ambassador to Germany, Jose Zaide, his own story about the Wall. It seems that last November 9 was the 30th anniversary of the Wall. I am proud to say that I preempted him in seeing that Wall. Zaide writes that they were able to convince the mayor of Berlin to donate a one-meter block of the Wall to the Philippines during the slated state visit to Germany of then President Gloria Arroyo.

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It was all set. The portion was sawed off, ready to be shipped to the Philippines, intended to remind us, and the Germans as well, of our own EDSA incident that had roused admiration – and its imitation – by other countries. However, as Zaide further wrote, the New York Trade Center got bombed shortly after, and all attention focused on the chaos, death and distruction that followed. And only recently, wrote Zaide, the German ambassador reminded him that the Wall portion for us is still there waiting, while sections of the Wall have been taken out by several countries all over the world.

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For sure, that portion would have served as a beautiful exhibit piece at EDSA, near that unsmiling statue. The German ambassador also said it will be “a symbol of close friendship and strong partnership between our two countries…” So when we are getting that portion reserved for us? I can thumb my nose at our government and tell those who should have attended to that, “At least I got there first, and chiseled off portions of that Wall myself!”*

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