By MORTZ C. ORTIGOZA
During the sent-off last December 13 of the provincial government trucks loaded with P2 million worth of food packs, medical, and construction materials to Leyte at the capitol ground in Lingayen, I was ambivalent to smile at a familiar Army face since he was donning a star rank in his fatigue collars.
“Baka hindi ito iyong kilala kong colonel,” I told myself.
Brig. General Vic Castro (PMA ’82), commander of 702nd Infantry Brigade based in Binmaley, Pangasinan, used to be a colonel three months ago when I met him with Pangasinan Provincial Director Marlou Chan (PMA ’85) in Sta. Barbara, Pangasinan during the visits of Vice President Jojo Binay.
“I just met your mistah (PMA classmate), 602nd Infrantry Brigade Commander Brigadier General Ademar Tomaro last Friday in Mindanao after M’lang , Cotabato Mayor Lito Pinol introduced him to me,” I told him.
|PMA Classmate:From Left former Pangasinan provincial|
Director Sonny Versoza and newly promoted
Army Brigadier General Vic Castro. Both are
members of PMA Class 1982.
General Castro told me that the Armed Forces assigned the amiable Tomaro, a fellow Ilonggo, in Central Mindanao because he is a “warrior” and the most suited to stand tit-for-tat against any Muslim insurrections there.
“I know your town. I was assigned in Davao then and in Basilan in my junior years in the military,” Castro stressed when we discussed the terrain of my province there.
When retired general Sonny Versoza (PMA ’82), who led the provincial convoy for Tacloban, Leyte, joined in the conversation, I just learned from Castro that when they were both at the academy (my birth place) in Baguio City both of them were sons of mayors then.
Castro said his father was the mayor of Bugallon while Sonny’s pa was the mayor of the capital town Lingayen.
“Ito ang next mayor ng Lingayen, sir,” media man Harold Barcelona, factotum of then provincial director Hermogenes Ebdane, told General Castro.
The banter of Harold caused some hearty laugh among us.
“Classmate namin iyan (in PMA) si Tomaro. Member ng Delta Force iyan!” Sonny, who was a former provincial director of Pangasinan, said.
“Delta Force ng U.S?” I posed.
“Hindi, Delta Company iyong may bulldog na emblem sa PMA. Matapang iyang mistah namin na iyan,”Versoza said.
I told the two Cavaliers that I forgot to mention them to general Tomaro when we were partaking the sumptuous lunch provided by the M’lang hizzoner.
“I called instead in my mobile phone Congressman Leopoldo Bataoil (former three –star general and PMA class ’76) and told him that I was with Tamaro - his former subordinate”.
Bataoil asked Tomaro why I was in Mindanao. The general told him I lived there.
“Sir, sabi ni Mortz tatakbo daw kayong governor (in Pangasinan), “I overheard the general telling the soft –spoken congressman.
A quite worried Tomaro, who was assigned then in neighboring Nueva Vizcaya and Tarlac provinces, asked me what will happen in case Bataoil challenges the formidable Pangasinan Governor Amado T. Espino (PMA ’73).
“No sir, Espino will be ending his third term in 2016. He would probably field his son former Bautista Mayor Amado “Pogi” Espino III, the shoo-in president of the League of Barangays in the provincial board, for the governorship pitting him against Bataoil, Abono Congressman Conrad Estrella, and Vice Governor Ferdie Calimlim- the son of your upper class man Lieutenant General Jose Calimlim (PMA ’69)” I told the general.
Meeting Political Players in Mindanao
Oh by the way, aside from the gracious host Mayor Lito Pinol, I met in M’lang too the rabble rousing former Cotabato Province governor Manny Pinol ( a pal of my favorite Dagupan City Mayor Al Fernandez), Maguindanao Governor Ismael “Toto” Mangudadato (who sports the best yellow sneakers I ever saw), whose slain wife was my school mate, Royal British Marine Commando trained retired Colonel Pat Pinol, former chief of the elite (according to Provincial Director Marlou Chan) 151st PC Brigade in Tayug, Magpet Vice Mayor, a three- term town hizzoner, Efren Pinol, and other luminaries there after I attended the awarding of the best sons and daughter of the rustic town where Toto Mangudadato was the guest of honor.
O-oh, forgot to mention too, one of the awardees that include my brother, Marine Colonel Romeo Racadio, a high school classmate in a catholic school there after I was suspended in the protestant high school – te-heh!
Racadio, PMA class 1991, told me among his batch only ten of them were promoted to full colonel two years ago.
“Your governor (Espino) was a gracious host during the Pistay Dayat there (in Pangasinan). He gave me a cozy room in a hotel (province-run Capitol Resort Hotel in Lingayen) when I supervised the players of the navy in the dragon boat competition,” he told me when were in the stage during the awarding ceremony.
(You can read my selected columns at http://mortzortigoza.blogspot.com and articles at Pangasinan News Aro. You can send comments too at email@example.com).