My best friends

"They were all nation builders, and they gave back to the poor and needy."


As I was going over my memorabilia over the weekend, I found three of my friends who have all passed on. They were part of my life as a journalist.

They were Leonardo Siguion-Reyna, Antonio Cabangon-Chua and Felimon Cuevas.

Siguion-Reyna is from the Siguion-Reyna Ongsiako and Montecillo Law Offices. He came from an upper middle class family in Pangasinan. He was first with the law office of his father-in-law, the pre-war fiscal Alfonse Ponce Enrile, who was also the father of former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.

Sig and I became close when he became a regular at the 365 Club at the old Hotel Intercontinental, which we founded in 1972. He was almost always with his famous wife Armida.

I used to kid him that he was the historian of our club because he knew everybody’s backgrounds—at least those of the greats and the near-greats.

Tony and Ka Imon had humble beginnings and I admired them for their inspiring stories.

Tony, for instance, used to sell cigarets during the Japanese occupation. He had to struggle to achieve his goals. He was a big help to his mother. We had a lot in common.

Before going into business, as a graduate of accounting at University of the East, he joined the Philippine Constabulary and retired as a colonel.

He was a good friend of Jaime Cardinal Sin and Cardinal Luis Tagle.

I was saddened when he was diagnosed with cancer. But I cannot forget how good a friend he was to many.

Ka Imon Cuevas was something else. Whenever the Iglesia Supremo Erdie Manalo traveled, he was always with him. This is why I always knew in advance whom the Iglesia would support during elections.

Cuevas was a fisherman from Cavite, who then became a gasoline station attendant. While he never went to college, he sent his brother, former Supreme Court Justice Serafin Cuevas, to law school.

Ka Imon struck it rich during the Vietnam War when he got the contract to supply Clark Air Base with oil and gasoline. When the Marcos administration came to power, he won, through a public bidding, the supply of motor vehicle licenses.

I can never forget my friends. All three of them were nation-builders. Most importantly, they gave back to the poor and needy.

* * *

The Civil Service Commission has been tasked to come up with implementing rules defining “nominal” and “insignificant” gifts under our anti-graft laws. This, after President Duterte told policemen that it was all right to accept nominal and insignificant gifts as a sign of gratitude and appreciation from the public.

Some sectors have suggested a certain percentage of the annual salaries of public servants. A senator said a Lacoste shirt or lechon were ok. But I think these are too expensive. The suggestion is anti-poor.

I also don’t think money should be given at all to public servants. It could be habit forming. Even addictive, like drugs.

After all, public servants are already being paid through their salaries. What Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kwan Yew did was to increase their salaries to discourage corruption.

* * *

Associate Justice Antonio Carpio has again declined his automatic nomination to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He may well go down in history as the best chief justice we never had.

If seniority traditions are to be followed, next in line are Justices Diosdado Peralta and Estela Perlas-Bernabe.

* * *

Here we go again. The President has warned that the government would act accordingly to respond to the entry of foreign vessels into Philippine waters without permission. But he has not said what the response would be.

Frankly, I cannot imagine our Philippine Navy ever going against Chinese warships if the latter defied Duterte’s warnings.

The President indeed uttered some fighting words. The question is, can we ever really prevent the Chinese from doing as they please?

* * *

If Beijing really wanted to quell the continuing protests, it can very easily order the military to intervene. There seems to be a possibility, however, that it will not. Beijing knows too well the consequences of such an action.

From the looks of it, the massing of tanks and armed forces at Hong Kong’s borders could just be a show of force.

Still, I am truly worried about what can happen to Hong Kong.

Topics: Emil Jurado , My best friends , Leonardo Siguion-Reyna , Antonio Cabangon-Chua , Felimon Cuevas
COMMENT DISCLAIMER: Reader comments posted on this Web site are not in any way endorsed by Manila Standard. Comments are views by readers who exercise their right to free expression and they do not necessarily represent or reflect the position or viewpoint of While reserving this publication’s right to delete comments that are deemed offensive, indecent or inconsistent with Manila Standard editorial standards, Manila Standard may not be held liable for any false information posted by readers in this comments section.
AdvertisementGMA-Working Pillars of the House