When the regular Philippine government was restored in 1946 following the declaration on July 4th of the country’s independence elections were called in the following year. In the early years, the Philippine National Railways(PNR) railroad track served as the demarcation line marking the separation of the two congressional districts in the province of Pampanga.
In the early sixties there were only 104 congressional districts, and over a period of time the number ballooned to more that 200 excluding the party lists members. And if I may add members of congress then were real congressmen. No ‘hao siao’ congressmen. Most were brilliant, well studied and eloquent speakers.
I always wanted to recall this period in my life. I was an ordinary promdi student in the early sixties at the University of Sto. Tomas, and most of the time running out of money even for jeepney fares. I loved going to the Manila Grand Opera house where after the movie the theatrical shows featuring known singers of those years, complete with drama and dancing gave me the thrill.Easily getting penniless, I will walk from my rented room in Zurbaran street up to Philippine Congress, some six or seven kilometers away, to watch congressmen in action.
Our representatives then were Emilio Cortez and Juanita Lumanlan Nepomuceno. They were in the company of Florencio Abad of Batanes, Manuel Cases of La Union, Floro Crisologo of Ilocos Sur, Leonardo Perez of Nueva Viscaya, Teodulo Natividad of Bulacan, Justo Albert of Manila, Justiniano Montano of Cavite, Felix Fuentebella of Camarines Sur, Manuel Soza of Cebu, Vincenso Sagun of Zamboanga Del Sur, Salih Ututalum of Sulu and many more class legislators.
They were Pampanga’s pride. In the rolls of earlier congress, the congressmen sent in the lower house were no bench warmers. Some of the names will include Jose Fausto of Sta. Ana, Eligio Lagman of Guagua, Luis Taruc of San Luis, Amado Yuzon of Guagua and Diosdado Macapagal of Lubao. They brought honor to the province.
After the war, the governor of the province was Urbano Dizon. He was defeated in a three cornered contest. His opponents were Jose B. Lingad and Emilio Cortez. Lingad unseated Dizon. And during those years, the congressman in the first district was Amado Yuzon, a poet laureate and an English professor at the Far Eastern University. In his stint in congress, Yuzon delivered a privilege speech in Shakespearean style that awed fellow members and the people in the gallery. That’s how good he was. And former Huk Supremo Luis Taruc represented the second district. Both were removed from congress because of their strong stand against the Bell Trade Act, Parity Rights and Military Bases Agreement. But were able to retake their seats after sometime. (And that’s another story to be told).
Pampanga Governor Jose B. Lingad called on a cumpare and a cabalen from Lubao Diosdado Macapagal who was then a consul in Washington DC in the United States and asked him to run against Yuzon. Macapagal hurried home and without hesitation started planning his strategies with supporters like Marciano Dizon of Porac, Brigido Valencia of Guagua, Jose Pelayo of Angeles and few more others.
Macapagal was a zarsuelista and an eloquent speaker. Whenever he spoke the answer is silence of a big crowd and a thunderous applause at the end of his campaign speech. People from the second district travelled kilometers in their carts just to be part of the crowd wherever the Cong Dadong and Tatang Mado conducted their political rallies. Those were the years. Macapagal defeated Yuzon. And Macapagal never looked back till he became president besting re-electionist Carlos P. Garcia of Bohol.
Editor’s Note: Formerly newspaperman of Daily Inquirer and other major dailies; former TV and radio Broadcaster. Former Director of various corporations like Clark Development Co.; and a former City of Angeles Councillor. Now a regular columnist of Sun Star Pampanga.