The week long celebration of the 65th Founding Anniversary of Occidental Mindoro that will start next week cannot be an exclusive affair for certain political group. This ought to be an inclusive celebration that advances equitable share of all participants, regardless of political color and coming from every sector of society. The contribution of all, regardless of political affiliation should be acclaimed especially the candidates or recipients of the Occidental Mindoro Achiever Awards, a first-ever event in the celebration recognizing their contributions in society. The people who truly put Occidental Mindoro to the map need recognition more than being entertained by showbiz personalities and celebrities from Manila and other palliative ego-boosting, carnival-like happenings.
Through Republic Act No. 505, the province of Mindoro was divided into two provinces, to be known as Oriental Mindoro and Occidental Mindoro on November 15, 1950 through a bill sponsored by Mindoro province’s Cong. Raul Leuterio approved June 13, of the same year. Damaso Abeleda was appointed governor from November 15, 1950 to December 31, 1951. But our first elected governor was Federico Castillo (1952-1955), also an ally of the Abeledas, while Jesus T. Abeleda (1951-1953) became the first congressman of Occidental Mindoro.
Cong. Raul Leuterio (1951-1953), a Liberal Party (LP) bigwig in Mindoro in late 40's whom close to President Manuel Roxas, grandfather of now LP presidential candidate Mar Roxas, started it all but not without political agenda. Aside from administrative and technical justifications, there are partisan political underpinnings in such legislation. During that time, with the scarcity of road and bridges and transportation facilities, it was hell-like to go campaign around the 7th largest island of the Philippines with its islands and islets. On the other hand, administering the whole island proved to be difficult, expensive and time-consuming. Due to scarcity of mechanized transportation way back then, just imagine how our dear forebears dared woods and waves going to municipalities and barrios. The division took firm grasp of this reality.
Regarding Leuterio’s bill aimed at dividing the island into two provinces, Volker Schult in p. 116 of his book “Mindoro (A Social History of a Philippine Island in the 20th Century)” published by the Divine Word Publications 1991, “He (Leuterio) paid back the political loyalty the Abeledas had been giving him since the pre-war period. Leuterio supported the Abeledas to gain political domination in the province of Occidental Mindoro.” Truth to tell, debt of gratitude in politics is part of our province infantile period in history not unlike today. Those days of political exclusivity, where the elite political partisans take the center stage and the non-aligned masses or voters are left behind. God gave us more than 6 1/2 decades to correct those but they are haunting us still to this very day.
I heard that Mar Roxas, the LP standard bearer, will be coming over to grace the occasion and I have to qualms about that unless they make this historic event, in whole or in part, a partisan political one. The 65th Founding Anniversary should not be used as venue for political endorsements or any activity related to May 2016, though election time is already in the air. Please apportion another time and venue for that. No hand shall be raised as if it were a political rally, campaign or sortie. Hope they will not repeat the way President BS Aquino III served as witness to their party oath taking and consequently endorsed them during this very celebration last 2012, coincided with our province’s 62nd Founding Anniversary. Let us hope against hope that THIS would not happen again.
If that will be repeated, then, again, the event in a way becomes an exclusive celebration. If we cannot be inclusive in celebration, how could we aim for a development paradigm called inclusive growth? ….