Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Tribute To Felix Gabriel



Since election time is already near, here’s a little tribute to a great politician from my place of birth and with God’s grace there’s a Holy Week event that reminded me of the late old man whom many  of our youth have almost forgotten.

In the Lenten Recollection aired over ABS-CBN Channel 2 last Holy Wednesday, Fr. Glenn Paul M. Gomez, SVD, a well-known kabayan clergy, mentioned in his sharing about a former mayor of our hometown San Jose in Occidental Mindoro.  According to Fr. Glenn, president of the Divine Word College (DWC) here and one of the top brasses of the Healing Eucharist, a Sunday Mass TV program,  people from our place should be reminded about Dr. Felix Lomboy Gabriel. The life of Dr. Gabriel centered on service, as a war veteran, a medical doctor, a town mayor and a civic leader. Upon retirement, he pioneered the senior citizen organization in whole Occidental Mindoro where he gained prominence all over the country. I remember the old man way back in the early 90s. I was then an apprentice news writer for Radyo Filipino DZYM, the first radio station in San Jose, where Dr. Gabriel, in his late 80s, hosted a radio program. Those were the days when our airwaves are pure and clean. When our radio announcers were not yet under the spell of political witchcraft. There are several times I guided Dr. Gabriel leading to the announcer’s booth for he was already half blind that time and had difficulty in walking. But his mind remained sharp. His wisdom overflows. His humility is beyond compare. His intelligence is oozing. Unlike many of those names and faces printed in tarpaulins posted all over the place today.

The late grand old man in a way paved the way for my earthly existence. As town mayor, he presided the civil wedding of my parents in 1960. He was elected in 1959 and among his three major accomplishments were naming of the streets and the transfer of the all the government offices near the Municipal Hall and the construction of a new Public Market. His youngest son, Hector, stood as my godfather when I was baptized. He and my Papang, our grandpa, were friends not only because they are both health practitioners but because our families were two of the early residents of Pandurucan, San Jose’s name of yore.  Dr. Felix Gabriel hailed from Batac, Ilocos Norte and finished his course in Medicine at the University of Sto. Tomas. In 1931 he was sent to San Jose by the Department of Health as its Municipal Health Officer. Papang, who was also with the department’s Malaria Control Unit, told me that his compadre is a model politician and a have a true heart for his patients especially those who are poor coming from the barrios. Dr. Gabriel, in the 70s also play tennis, his favorite sport. Me mentioning tennis also reminds me of another great old man of Philippine politics named Jovito Salonga who once said, “Politics is like tennis. Those who serve well seldom losses.” Dr. Gabriel’s two daughters, Amelita or Baby and Virginia or Gene were teachers of all the girls from our family who entered Saint Joseph’s School (SJS). His other son was Felix, Jr. or Boy. Dr. Gabriel was married to Amparo Gaudier, I was told by my Mamang. Nobody from his immediate family entered politics. Service and not business was his politics. Unlike many of those names and faces printed in tarpaulins posted all over the place today.

Dr. Gabriel during World War II was with the army being a medical officer with a rank of 1st Lt and in 1992, he acted as executive director of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines or BSP. By the way, on my entry next week, on April 4, I will tell you why I go for boy scout-politicians as my ideal public servant. My personal criteria of picking whom to vote this 2013.

Dr. Gabriel succumbed to heart attack on October 20, 2000. He was 98.

Bearing in mind the clean and honest ways of Dr. Felix Gabriel, I am hoping to see names and faces of genuine alternative politicians in their tarpaulins in the coming elections for we deserve more than  old names and faces in our local politics. I am not losing hope for I belong to Easter people...

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(Photo : Ferdz Decena)

2 comments:

  1. can i get a photo of Felix Gabriel? thanks

    ReplyDelete
  2. Arolfcharlene_18@yahoo.com.
    please e - mail me a photo of Felix Gabriel, i need it for educational purposes . Thank you :)

    ReplyDelete