Remembering Rafael L. Lazatin

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I love telling stories. And I love listening also, particularly past events, which oftentimes are subjects of my discourse. And I get my fulfillment and feel effective when articles in the op-ed page of this paper get reactions. And because this is already the digital age and the cyberspace made the world too small, my postings are being shared by kins and friends who are living abroad, aside from those based here in the country. My sister Myrna in New York, my brother Vennie in London, my friend Romy Ibe in Las Vegas and several other Facebook friends react and make comments. What a world!

The following article I wrote sometime back in the nineties centered on Rafael L. Lazatin, aka Apung Feleng,whom luckily I was able to interview in his balcony of his two storey house in Barangay San Jose in Angeles City before he was afflicted with a debilitating illness in 1992. He died the next year an accomplished human being.

Apung Feleng was an accidental politician. It all started in 1934. Relative peace reigned in the country. It was commonly referred then by old people as ‘peace time’. While Angeles town enjoyed a condition of remarkable peace, it’s politicos were locked in a bitter partisanship and seemingly never ending political quarrel.

Town Mayor Ricardo Nepomuceno and Francisco Lazatin were then the arch rivals in local politics. Nepomuceno aligned himself with the well loved former Mayor Don Clemente Dayrit, and the duo as political partners were able to persuade the young Rafael to join as a candidate in their council ticket. Lazatin grabbed the number one slot. And that started his rise in politics, only to be eclipsed by the start of world war in December 1941.

In 1946, immediately after the liberation of the country from the Japanese invaders, then President Manuel Roxas appointed Lazatin as acting mayor of Angeles town. Lazatin, who by this time was already married to Loreto Feliciano of Magalang and raising his family with his son Carmelo aka Tarzan and Victoria.

Lazatin vehemently refused the appointment because he was enjoying his first love-farming. Though he graduated with a commerce degree from the Jose Rizal College, his real love was agriculture. His grandfather, Don Esteban gave Rafael’s

When the appointment letter by President Roxas reached the Lazatin household, Loreto cautioned her husband on the turmoils of political life. Immediately Lazatin sent word to Roxas of his refusal. It took Don Pablo Angeles David of Bacolor town, then a prominent political figure in the country to persuade him to submit to Roxas’s wish.

Lazatin style of leadership endeared him to the people and caught the attention of national politicians who then began hatching up grand plans for him. In 1947, due to the persistence of Governor Urbano Dizon he accepted the draft to run for a seat in the provincial board. And in the elections of 1951 he won the governorship besting Lubao’s favorite, Jose B. Lingad.

As it was said then, that one’s destiny cannot be forestalled. Rafael Lazatin helped shape the history of Pampanga and his immense contribution to the growth of the province is until being appreciated, including his stint as mayor of Angeles City.

There are three more Lazatins in mainstream politics today. Carmelo Sr. And two of his juniors. One is a congressman and the other is a councilor.