By By Pablo A. Tariman
posted 7-Apr-2019  ·  
810 views  ·   0 comments  ·  
Jorge with another Licad fan, actor John Lloyd Cruz.
Atty. Jorge V. Sarmiento and wife Wawie with world-acclaimed pianist Cecile Licad.

With just six weeks before another local election, one figures the island will have a new congressman, probably a new governor (or the incumbent one) and new sets of mayors (or the incumbent ones, too).

I was born during the term of Congressman Francisco Perfecto (1945-1949) and I have no memories of the second one, Severiano de Leon (1949-1953).

The first congressman I saw in person was Jose M. Alberto (1957-1972) whose White House residence was where people queued to ask help or favor.

Sadly, I didn’t get to meet Moises Tapia (1987-1992) in whose office two close friends worked. One was a former activist and another was a media person. All the three of them would perish in an airplane crash by the sea.

I met Leandro Verceles, Jr. (1992-2001) when I founded the 1992 Catanduanes Summer Music Festival. The family owned a baby grand piano which I used for the concerts featuring former CCP president and now National Artist for Music Lucrecia Kasilag, tenor Gary del Rosario and pianist Zenas Reyes Lozada. I met the late Leandro Verceles, Sr. and his wife in one concert at the Risen Christ Hall. He was surprised an islander could connect with classical music and be overly obsessed with classical musicians.

By coincidence, Joseph Santiago (2001-2010) and I were recipients of the Ten Outstanding Catanduanganons in 1999 during the term of Gov. Hector Sanchez and all I would remember was that young awardee-turned congressman was forever taking notes during the awards night.

Meanwhile, my search for a good piano in my summer music series in 2016 led me to Santiago’s house. His mother, Mrs. Nimfa Santiago) lent me his upright piano for the concert featuring tenor Nomher Nival and pianist Gabriel Paguirigan.

I have seen Cesar V. Sarmiento (2010-1019) many times in the island but only got closer when I judged in the island-wide choral competition his office sponsored. He is one of my sources of air tickets for visiting classical musicians and actually attended one at Kemji Resort some years back.

As you can see, I have good memories of all the congressmen who served in this island.

This year, a friend from way back and a consistent honor student, Jorge V. Sarmiento, is running for congressman along with former governor Hector Sanchez, former governor Araceli Wong. 

This being a small island, you see fellow islanders being pitted against each other in the coming elections. One knows Sanchez was into real state and Wong was the noted business person. Outside of her business connections (she is married to another businessman), one knows very little about the first woman governor. She is hardly quotable. To this day, one is in the dark about her profession other than being a businesswoman. 

On the 74th founding year of the island, one would like to see an island valedictorian (Immaculate Conception Academy and Catanduanes College) given a chance to serve.

By and large, Jorge represents the quiet achiever who did well.

Years before he even thought of running, I found myself in the company of Jorge and his wife Wawie watching ballets and listening to our favorite’s artists at the Cultural Center of the Philippines and at the Ayala Museum. He happens to be the brother of former Comelec Commissioner, Atty. Rene V. Sarmiento of Comelec, Inquirer senior desk editor, Juan V. Sarmiento and the incumbent congressman.

When you review the candidates’ credentials, you realize Jorge is the only one who has served six presidents from Corazon Aquino (Immigration Deputy Commissioner), Fidel V. Ramos (Postmaster General), Joseph Estrada (PCGG), Gloria Arroyo (Acting chairman PCGG and deputy commissioner of National Telecommunications Commission), Benigno Aquino, Jr. (president and CEO of PAGCOR and Rodrigo Duterte (undersecretary of Information and Technology).

To be sure, other islanders have made Catanduanes what it is today.

The Albertos brought in the first wave of infrastructures and Cesar V. Sarmiento virtually made all the towns accessible with more infrastructure projects. (This time, he is running for governor of the island.)

The Verceleses introduced the island’s first cordless phones and cellular gadgets. Jun Verceles’ Filnet 2000 surely brought in the TV sets and the cellular phones in the early 90s in between the arrival of movie stars and basketball teams.

On the other hand, Congressman Sarmiento comes from a family of non-politicians and his lifestyle shows it. He moves around without bodyguards (the status symbol of the old school of politicians) and is keen on changing the face of politics in the island on top of preserving the province’s cultural heritage.

My cultural agenda of course has made me very close to Jorge who has supported not just the island concerts but other concerts in Manila and Iloilo as well.

As I see it, it would be a source of pride to see someone trusted by six presidents represent the island in the halls of congress.

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