In Puerto Princesa back then, was another elementary school we called the Annex. As to why it was so-called, I can’t tell, but I just supposed it was part of the pilot school system, then. At that time, it was already a creepy, old building named after a pre-war public works secretary by the name of Gabaldon who I learned was its designer. The building stood across the Rizal Plaza, next to the Puerto Princesa Cathedral. At its back was a vacant lot and just across was the Governor’s residence while some distance away fronting the plaza was the old Philippine Constabulary Headquarters (now Plaza Cuartel). The Annex stands out in my recollection because were it not for being a building that had seen better days and in bad need of restoration, it otherwise was a grandly-designed structure that appropriately dispensed grade school education. Years later, it was inexplicably demolished; to me, restoring its old grandeur would have been a better option, historically-speaking.
The old governor’s quarters where we resided was in a ‘purok’ called Purok Model, now Barangay Model bound by Mendoza, Manalo and Malvar Streets. It earned that appellation, I was told, because the old Puerto Princesa Municipal Hall was there along with the Puericulture (health) center and the Social Welfare Administration (SWA, now the DSWD) buildings; it probably was also due to the fact that most of the provincial officials at that time were residing in government buildings in the purok. I recall those provincial officials were: Provincial Auditor Salazar, Provincial Treasurer Dimatira followed by Treasurer Villena, Provincial Schools Superintendent Briones, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Velasco, District Land Officer de Guzman (father of Dr. Jun de Guzman), Highways District Engineer Lardizabal (father of the late Palawan State University president Dr. Tess Lardizabal-Salva, Provincial Fiscal Peña (father of the late Natural Resources Secretary Teddy Peña) and my father as asst. Provincial Fiscal. Years later, upon Fiscal Peña’s retirement, his quarters (fronting the Puerto Princesa Baptist Church along Manalo St.) was where the late asst. Fiscal Mayo (who became a martyr in the cause of justice when he was murdered in line of duty in 1968 and father of Atty. Gerthie Anda) and his family resided. (It is not amiss to mention here that another fiscal, the late Puerto Princesa City Prosecutor Fernando Dilig also became a martyr for justice – he was shot to death in his garage while about to drive his jeep to office. He is the father of Atty. Herbert, now Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Palawan Chapter president and Atty. Geri, a known law practitioner in Palawan).
Some people prominent in my memory were our school principal, the late Soledad Baaco to whom I was a pet student because she and my mother were good friends in Cuyo. Among my teachers were Mrs. Peña, tiya Lumen Fernandez, Manang Mely Rodriguez-Miguel, Mr. Romantico (who later became a vice president of Palawan State University), Mrs. Luz Katon and Mrs. Pat Aukay who, when she retired years later became president of the Senior Citizens Association of Puerto Princesa City. The medical practitioners then were the late Dr. Alfonso, Dr. Doy Sta. Clara (who circumcised me), Dr. Rivera, Chief of the Palawan Provincial Hospital (father of Atty. Grace Rivera-Meregillano, Dr. Pascual (whose son Prudy became doctor in the United States of America) and Dr. Claro Bernardo, a dentist…. The old Chinese stores (still existing) I frequented at that time were Go Tian Suy store where we sold our copra, Pe Chua Co store where replacements parts for McArthur and Eisenhower jeeps are available and Tomas Tan Enterprises for Honda Motorcycles and fishing gears. Prominent in the business circle at that time were Ofelia Palanca Miguel, my Mama’s close friend and the late Mrs. Nieves Miguel-Cruz whose family owned the first rural bank in Palawan. (more on the old Puerto Princesa in my next column)…..
On Statesmen and Politicians – A friend sent me this item related to my last column about statesmen thinking of the next generation, and politicians thinking of the next election. He said – “statesmen think they belong to the country while politicians think the country belongs to them”.
Of lawyers going to heaven – A lawyer was told by a ‘manghuhula’ that she has good news and bad news for him. “First, the good news is you will be the first lawyer to go to heaven; the bad news is tonight you will be going there”.
Exasperated cross-examiner – “Your Honor, I’m through cross-examining this witness in whose face I see the devil”. Retorted the witness, “Your Honor, this is the first time I came to know my face is a mirror”.