Last Saturday, March 18, would have been former President Fidel V. Ramos’ 95th birthday.
To commemorate the occasion, some of the people who worked for him led by former Chief PNP Sony Razon and post presidential aide Mel Bergado decided to celebrate his birthday with a golf fellowship in his favorite golf course inside Camp Aguinaldo.
What was intended as a small fellowship for people close to the late President turned out to become what we might call a gathering of eagles.
Many of those who came to grace the occasion were the heavyweights in previous governments.
There must have been three former Executive Secretaries, several Secretaries and a score of former Chiefs of the PNP and Chiefs of Staff of the AFP.
FVR lived a long and fruitful life dedicated to the service of his country.
It was, therefore, natural that along the way, he was able to gather quite a number of people both military and civilian to work with him in government.
When he died a few months ago, the country did not only lose a true patriot but also a quintessential public servant.
The golf fellowship was a way of celebrating his life and to remember the good old days.
Because of his long and varied service to his country, stories about him from people who worked for him could fill a small library and was very evident during the award ceremony.
As General Joe Magno, now the oldest surviving military man in the FVR team, duly reported to the assembly, the Boss is with us and enjoying the festivities.
There are tons of stories about him while in the military service and as President.
His introduction of the military concept of complete staff work in the civilian bureaucracy has become a stuff of legend among many former Cabinet members.
(Editor’s Note: Complete Staff Work is the doctrine of any well-run office. Popularized by FVR and institutionalized by succeeding presidents through several directives, CSW is the principle of management, which states that subordinates are responsible for submitting written recommendations to superiors in such a manner that the superior does not need to do anything further in the process than review the submitted document and indicate approval or disapproval.)
This includes the frequent marginal notes they almost always received from him every morning including weekends.
One of the purposes of the golf fellowship was to reminisce many of these stories which has become obligatory in any FVR occasion.
If we turn the pages to examine the public life of FVR, we can actually divide it into three phases.
The first is his long military service beginning as a cadet in West Point in 1946 and ending when he took over the defense department as secretary in 1986 and ending in 1991.
That is a span of 45 long years.
The second phase was his political life when he ran and won the presidential election in 1992, becoming the country’s 12th president.
The last was his post presidential life when he founded the FVR Peace Foundation and endeavored to promote the country internationally and helped succeeding presidents as best as he could.
Not too many people realize that FVR was helping the government quietly up to the very end.
He was always available for consultation from many Cabinet members of succeeding presidents.
A certified workaholic, he drove the national government bureaucracy to embrace his work ethic, resulting in his administration achieving peace, stability and progress for the country.
He also started the country on a sustained economic growth beginning with his Philippines 2000 slogan.
During the golf fellowship, former top government officials who normally do not attend public events anymore were there and stayed till the very end.
It was a pleasure to see Generals and former Cabinet secretaries Ed Ermita and Rene De Villa in attendance and not looking any older than when I saw them last which was many years ago.
Although advancing in years, they are certainly doing it gracefully.
Former Chief PNP General Ramon Montano, who has some mobility problems, was also there and enjoying like the rest of us.
It was also a pleasure to have finally met former Executive Secretary Bingbong Medialdea who, knowing that I live in Baguio, told me about his father being assigned as City Prosecutor of Baguio for a short time long time ago.
Others who were there were former secretaries Del Lorenzana, Jun Esperon, Bobby De Ocampo, Rene Diaz and Paul Dominguez. General Leo Alvez, a friend of long standing who, like myself, is not based in Manila.
Missing were Raffy Alunan and Silvestre Bello who unfortunately were not able to make it.
While watching the award ceremony unfold and seeing the people who were there, I was deep in thought about what the country was missing by way of history.
If only these gentlemen would take time to write down what they had gone thru over the last 50 or more years, this country would be a lot richer in the knowledge that they could pass on to succeeding generations.
Even if they could not write or get a ghost writer, what they could do is simply get a video camera, sit in front of it and then just talk.
That way, the knowledge could be preserved for their families and, more importantly, the country.
The recordings could be kept by the families, sent to the Presidential library of FVR or the Philippine government archives.
Right now, the country is starving for knowledge and answers to questions from direct participants about the momentous events that transpired in our country in the last 50 years.
For those who missed the big shindig, the next one will be at Malarayat GCC next year. (Editor’s Note: This is the Mount Malarayat Golf & Country Club-Mount Malipunyo Course in Lipa City, Batangas).