Fidel V. Ramos, then Defense Minister of Pres. Corazon Aquino, was the first high-level Malacanang official I covered as news writer and photographer for the Tribune.
It was in February of 1992 and I was then working for the construction company founded by now Mayor Sammy Laynes as Sustaining Technical Employee (STE) as required by the Philippine Contractor’s Adjudication Board (PCAB).
The governor at the time, former Ambassador Leandro Verceles Sr., had invited Secretary Ramos as keynote speaker and guest of honor during the Bicol Meet, the annual sports competition in the region.
It was during the opening ceremony that the elder Verceles, who was with son Leandro Jr. and then Vice Governor Teofisto Verceles, declared Ramos as the next President of the Philippines.
Naturally, I took photos of Ramos in action during the affair at the Catanduanes Athletic Complex.
Unfortunately for the governor, he was not in any of the pictures. I intentionally took shots of Ramos at the presidential table while Gov. Verceles was at the podium and then of the defense secretary when he finally spoke.
I was in a vengeful mood then, having been hailed to court along with the Tribune publisher, then PBM Fred Gianan Sr., and my mother, by a member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and close ally of the Verceleses for alleged possession of undocumented lumber at our Palnab farm.
Together with my friend Allan Ubalde, then appealing his and several others’ dismissal on a Capitol case, I followed the presidential convoy to San Andres town where Ramos spoke before a crowd at the town plaza.
The photos of Ramos (of course, with the governor unseen) as well as the headline story appeared in the next issue of the Tribune.
What happened in the next few months is history.
Ramos won handily as the new president, Gov. Verceles lost his reelection bid to former Gov. Rosalie Alberto-Estacio but his namesake son became congressman, a post he would hold for nine years before becoming a two-termer governor.
Last month marked a new high in coronavirus cases in Catanduanes since it recorded zero cases in March 2022.
July saw a total of 104 new COVID-19 cases, more than four times the 25 recorded in May.
And the very first day of August brought in 27 more, the highest daily total so far in this new surge of cases.
With local government units tasked with the responsibility of strictly implementing minimum health protocols, especially in schools which will soon hold face-to-face classes, health authorities have to make sure the LGUs do their jobs as well as the vaccination teams seek to surpass their targets in the revitalized COVID-19 vaccination program.
In the Bicol region, the provinces of Masbate and Camarines Sur has been placed under Alert Level 2 untill Aug. 15, with the rest under Alert Level 1.
When Catanduanes will breach the threshold for a higher classification is a certainty, considering the generally relaxed atmosphere that allows most of the islanders to do away with face masks in public.
Already, the COVID ward of the Eastern Bicol Medical Center is already full, according to reports.
It would be interesting to know when the Provincial COVID-19 Task Force chaired by Gov. Joseph Cua would convene to tackle the current surge and what countermeasures it would take to avoid the return of stringent restrictions on travel outside the province.
DYING REQUEST. Rudy was lying on his deathbed surrounded by his stunning young wife and their three children, all boys. Two were tall, good-looking, and athletic, but the third and youngest was short, homely, and extremely uncoordinated…
“Darling,” the husband whispered to his wife, struggling to get the words out, “Please, assure me that the youngest child is mine. I want to know the truth before I die. I’ll forgive you if…”
His wife calmly interrupted, “Yes, my dearest. I swear on my mother’s grave, without question, YOU are his father…”
Moments later, Rudy died peacefully…
Still by his side, Rudy’s grieving widow muttered under her breath, “Thank God he didn’t ask about the other two…”