Honoring Cong. Francisco A. Perfecto
posted 29-Oct-2018  ·  
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Catanduanes and its people, particularly those who are now in Virac to join the various activities celebrating the province’s 73rd foundation anniversary, are doubtless happy this week.

But most of the population would not be with the revelers as they would be working to bring food for the family, content to remember that on October 26, 1945, President Sergio Osmeña signed into law House Bill 301 or Commonwealth Act No. 687 sponsored by Congressman Francisco Perfecto. The Act officially recognized as an independent province, finally done with being an subprovince of Albay since 1907.

Forty-five years after his death, islanders today only remember Perfecto for this lone feat of legislative accomplishment, apart of course for another law he sponsored two years later that separated Caramoran from Pandan.

Come to think of it, Perfecto was the quintessential politician at the time, a true representative of the people when education, skill in oratory and a genuine connection to the people carried the day during elections.

At age 30, he was elected Representative for the Second District of Albay, of which Catanduanes was then a part as subprovince. Three years later, he won again as Lieutenant Governor of the island, before serving as provincial board member of Albay presumably representing the island from 1931 to 1940.

Available information does not indicate what happened to him from 1940 to 1946. But just a short time after the Philippines gained independence from America, the newly-elected Representative of the 4th District of Albay (to which Catanduanes was again attached) filed HB 301 and the rest is history.

He was then succeeded in 1949 by Congressman Severiano de Leon, but regained the post in 1953. Perfecto served as congressman for four more years until 1957 when he lost to Jose M. Alberto.

The main man of the Alberto political clan would rule the island for 15 uninterrupted years (broken only by Martial Law) and then another two years before the 1986 EDSA Revolution cut short his reign and ushered in a new breed of congressmen – Moises Tapia, Leandro Verceles Jr., Joseph Santiago and Cesar Sarmiento.

Today, there is still no road or building in the entire island that has been named or renamed in his honor, a sad commentary on our leaders’ capacity for grateful recognition of a man not even born here, who did much for the province where he grew up.

The late Governor Leandro Verceles Sr. has at least the Tabugod National High School renamed after him along with the former provincial library while the late Congressman Jose Alberto has a three-storey edifice named after him along with the knowledge that during his time and even after it, he was often called as “Lesman.”

In 2015, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan passed an ordinance renaming the old capitol building in Sta. Elena, Virac as the Cong. Francisco A. Perfecto Memorial Building. But until now, for reasons still unknown, the relic of the province’s infant years still carries the tag “Old Capitol Building.”

For now, the few people who continue to press for the founder’s appropriate recognition can at least ponder the words of Governor Joseph Cua during the opening program of this week’s celebration:

“We ought to be thankful to our forefather, Congressman Francisco A. Perfecto, we are reaping the fruits of the seed he has sown 73 years ago. And I believe that it is only right that we not only remember him, but we should talk about him in this week-long celebration.”

“Come to think of it. Catanduanes was founded by someone who is a migrant from Masbate but had the heart for Catanduanes. On a time where the war with the Japanese Imperial Army started, a man who has no other connection to Catanduanes (a sub province of Albay before) other than his constitutional rights as an elected lieutenant governor pushed for the independence of our happy island today.”

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