May 31, 2009 in columns
By ALDWIN G. QUITASOL
SECOND of two parts
The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example. — Benjamin Disraeli
Two years ago, Ka Bel was in Baguio City to receive an award from the Baguio General Hospital, which recognized his outstanding assistance to the indigent patients who cannot pay their hospital bills through funds coming from his Country-wide Development Fund (CDF). He also authored house bills for the poor patients.
He visited Cordillera Labor Center office. I was then with the trade union organizing center. My son who was turning four years old then was with me at the office. He saw Ka Bel many times on national TV. My son knows Ka Bel as a congressman who helps the oppressed. He keeps on telling how Ka Bel helps the poor.
“Tultulungan na ti kakaasi ket inbalud ketdin ni Gloria,” (He is helping the poor that Gloria imprisoned him) my son said.
Ka Bel was introduced to him and that was the first time I saw my son a very serious and behaved boy. He was speechless. The congressman was really fond of children as he was a grandfather, himself. He let my son sit on his lap and talked to him. He took something from his pocket and gave it to the boy.
My son proudly raised the gift of Ka Bel to him, a one peso coin. He then gave it to me for safe-keeping.
It might be funny to many who do not know Ka Bel who is a congressman giving one peso not just like other congressmen who are rich enough to buy all the properties and luxuries they like as long as they have their CDFs and their overwhelming wealth.
To me and my son, however, with all the people around at that time he gave the one peso, is such a very significant example of a congressman who cannot afford to fill his pocket with money yet giving his countrymen the utmost selfless service a public servant ought to do.
Ka Bel had not been busy looking for money from kickbacks and extra-curricular corruption but a workaholic inside Congress, the streets and communities. Despite his own poverty, he was there to serve the people.
If only public officials and leaders live like Ka Bel, then the Filipino people especially the poor can say they are not abandoned by the government. If only all the people who have positions or carrying titles with their names can follow the simplicity of Ka Bel a true representative of the people instead of boasting who they are, then everybody will be proud to have them as leaders.
The legacy Ka Bel left us gives us significant impressions: that his active battle in the Party-List system led to the instilling of new and genuine people’s politics in the political arena of the elite like the House of Congress. His utmost performance for social and economic reforms beneficial to the poor taught a meaningful lesson to other congressmen on how to be a true representative of the people. His excellent work as a representative delivered service to the Filipinos Congress never had accomplished in the past.
Ka Bel is not just a hero who fought for his fellowmen, he is a workers’ hero working for a better society where all will live better.# nordis.net