Issue of October 7, 2018
Mt. Province

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Tattooed in my heart, mind and soul

Sept. 30, 2018 was supposed to be an “announced” surprise natal day lunch for Edmund Gundran, former punong barangay, now part of our champion staff, but I almost literally fell off my chair and got the surprise of my life instead when Tito Peps, MG LIAM (Joey), Susan Agbayani, Jojo Rimando, Anselma Mayao, Nora Avecilla, Bridget Gilod, Yhdel Soriano, my recent wedding inaanaks Gilson Soronio and Daphne Rimando-Soronio, and the rest showed me the tattoo etched on their hands “Agila ng Baguio.” I asked if it were a “henna tattoo,” which can be washed off in a couple of days or weeks, and when they answered in the negative, that it was permanent and that the name in their skin will be inscribed for all eternity. My heart froze, touched by the well-meaning gesture of devotion from loyal friends, old and new, who chose to believe in me, my person, and for what and who I am.

My eyes were moist as I was overwhelmed by the seriousness of their actions, seeing them twitch in pain as the electronic buzz of the tattooing machine filled the air while a little blood spurting here and there. The “armosphere” traces me back to the historic blood compact of the KKK, where a symbol of the member’s loyalty, they performed the solemn rite of “sanduguan” wherein each one signed his name with his “nom de guerre” or the blood shaving rituals of the gladiators or fraternities. Ivy Gayle Jasmine Rimando was the tattoo artist who deftly and expertly performed the tattooing like a conductor in harmony with her music orchestra. If it were me, I would have fainted right there and then, as I have no guts for needles, blood, and pain.

Getting an “Agila ng Baguio” tattoo is entering into a covenant, which is a commitment a notch higher and more than a contract of marriage. Marriages can be nullified, but one cannot divorce the tattoo! And even though in the future, you can cover up or erase the tattoo, it will still always be there, standing as a constant reminder, a scar if I may say so. That agila tattoo is for life, a lasting tribute and commitment to the original Agila. I am humbled for the generous show of devotion and commitment – “walang iwanan” no matter what!

By now, people know I am not a “politician” of the most common notion. I do not “project and smile and charm my way” through the masses and with me, what you see is what you get. I do not go to wakes and funerals of people I do not know for “little brownie points.” I go to wakes of people I know to offer a hand of condolences at their most bereaved moments. I do my work as a lawyer, legislator, and public servant without ifs and buts and I am damn good at it. In two and a half years I processed more or less 400 public land applications, some pending for 20 years or more for eventual award and titling – trying to help people and expecting nothing in return. In doing so, I spend my own money and that of my more generous friends but never touched a single centavo from the government coffers for these personal endeavors.

I say things and state my case without sugarcoating, fear or favor, and my being brutally frank and truthful has put me in trouble, accused as a snob, elitist or hard to reach for some, but this perception was negated by the fact that one out of two or a whopping 50 percent of the voting population elected me into the post where I am in now. The same number and more would make me soar in the sky and fly like an eagle in the next polls or, if not blessed, law practice, column writing, radio jock, being naughty, golf, and travelling are the more happy options. I am not perfect but I am me, my own person, a different me from the rest of the breed.

Thus no words could be found for this motley group, and growing, of sincere friends and loyal supporters whose gesture of engraving that name in their persons is more than any of the plaques and citations hanging on the wall. They have their names and yours tattooed in my heart. The act of humanity is the greatest award I have ever encountered and my family and I are forever grateful. Sigh.

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