BY CALAMITY defined.
No, not for having caused the calamity but for facing it, taking its full brunt, and rising above it.
Thus, Mayor Roy David found his defining moment in the Mount Pinatubo devastations.
Buried in the volcano’s vomit, besieged by the onslaught of lahar rampages, Porac turned into a ghost town, ready to be consigned by the national government as catch basin for all pyroclastic flows from Pinatubo. A sacrifice worthy of a holocaust to appease nature’s deity, in this case the Aetas’ Apo Namalyari, for the salvation of the rest of Pampanga.
But no, Mayor David would have none of all the talks to “let nature take its course,” and with it, abandon all hopes for Porac.
“To dike is to die.” Came the cry that reverberated across the province, reaching Imperial Manila, in spirited opposition of the townsfolk against the enclosure of Porac within a diking system that would have buried the whole town. (In the struggle for the construction of the colossal FVR megadike, that cry morphed to “To dike or to die” impacting that dike’s imperative to the province’s survival).
Cut off from its then-principal economic lifeline that was Angeles City by the chasm that the Pasig-Potrero River had become, Mayor David made the impossible passable in a variety of ingenuous means as the truck-mounted metal contraption euphemized as the “London Bridge” (as in the song, “falling down, falling down”); the lined-up, sandbag-filled container vans serving as bridges; the sugarcane trucks providing piggy-back rides to smaller vehicles; as well as the immediate scraping and dredging of the riverbed after each lahar passing. Earning for the mayor the moniker “Lahar Fighter” he so proudly carried until his untimely death in 2002, when Porac has not only risen from the volcanic debris but prospered from it.
It was but over a week ago that Porac was ground zero anew in a natural disaster, a 6.1 magnitude temblor far less in expanse than Pinatubo’s fury but as terrifying in impact – as much with the mortal toll in the collapsed Chuzon Supermarket, as with the religious sense in the destruction of the belfry of the church of Apung Tali.
No happenstance but Fate perhaps, that a David again occupies a seat in the local government of Porac. Two Davids there in fact – Vice Mayor Dexter Albert, and councilor Olga Frances, better known as Fritzie, who also sits in the provincial board. Right there in the thick of the action.
Even as Dexter treads the trail blazed by his father onward to the Porac mayorship and greater service to his people, in times of calamity and in times of plenty, Fritzie has long hewed closely to that taken by their mother Edna, a sterling legislative record at the provincial board, and a stint as acting governor at the time of the Ombudsman’s suspension of Gov. Lito Lapid for graft and corruption arising from the now storied quarry scam that deprived the provincial government of hundreds of millions in revenues – finding indubitable proof in the daily P1 million collection at the time of Gov. Ed Panlilio, even raised to over P1.2 million a day in the era of Gov. Lilia G. Pineda.
In the crucible of natural disasters. The father in the son, the mother in the daughter. The David family heirloom of public service bequeathed.
We are seeing destiny…fulfilled, hopefully. For Porac’s sake.