This was the quick answer of Mayor Edgardo “Ed” Pamintuan when asked about the early gifts he received before his birthday.
The four books, one of which is about former US President John F. Kennedy, were given by his wife Herminia, better known as Miniang.
“Over the years, Miniang was very reliable, not to mention she cooks well. The best gift I could ever have is a good book. They make me relax and help me how to be effective in public service,” said Pamintuan who turns 62 today (February 23).
Pamintuan is a few pages away before completing his favorite book thus far: “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln,” written by Doris Kearns Goodwin. He is on page 705 and he has 44 pages to go.
Pamintuan said it’s about his “best idol” in public service, Lincoln who championed “equality” as president of the US, known to be the most powerful nation then and now.
The book which inspired US President Barack Obama is also about how Lincoln managed to persuade his fierce political rivals to join him in effectively running the government.
“I am no Lincoln, of course, but I try to emulate his style of governance,” says Pamintuan who turned the page of the book on Page 699 to show the lines of Lincoln summing up what greatness is all about.
“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan — to do all which may have achieve and cherish a just, and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations,” said Lincoln in the book which inspires Pamintuan to go on in public service, starting as Angeles City vice mayor in 1988.
LATE AT NIGHT
Miniang, who sat beside her husband after preparing all we need while having breakfast, could not helped but say her piece: “Late at night while we sleep, Ed would wake me up just to read to me his favorite lines from the book he is currently reading. Then he goes on by explaining it to me. A wife’s first duty is to listen – even when you are half-asleep.”
Miniang says the mayor and former human rights lawyer during the dark Marcos regime would even cry a little after going over his books, especially those about Lincoln.
She recounts that her husband of 30 years would be surprised to discover some of Lincoln’s style in governance had been applied by him in his more than 13 years in public service.
“One of which is delegation of task to “qualified” city hall workers and officials,” she adds.
Described by veteran columnist Ram Mercado as having one of the best faces in this city, Miniang said her main task is to take care of the needs of those who will not be able to speak to the mayor, most of the time at their house, and sometimes at the city hall.
Pamintuan says Lincoln, shortly after winning the presidency, would tell his people that he could not take care of the job-seekers all the time, and that the American president must take care of bigger issues and tasks at hand.
“That’s why I took to the city hall those who are qualified to work and more importantly, willing to serve well,” says Pamintuan, who interrupts the interview by convincing this reporter to read other books about Lincoln. “I could not employ them all, and they know that.”
Asked what he will do on his birthday, Pamintuan says “I don’t really know yet.”
He says “ever since I don’t really make plans.” “I live one day at a time and sees to it that I am effective by doing my best on a daily basis.”
“I could promise the moon and the stars but at the end of the day, they will ask if I was a factor on a daily basis,” he adds.
Pamintuan scored one of the greatest comebacks in political history of this city, drowning former Mayor Francis Nepomuceno by some 26,000 votes.
He took his resounding win against the previously undefeated Nepomuceno as a challenge to bring back the glory days of this highly urbanized city.
“I inherited a bankrupt government from Blueboy. I arrived at the city hall facing millions of debts. But no excuse, I have to perform despite the odds,” he says. “More than seven months, the city is on its feet again.”
No less that City Treasurer Juliet Quinsaat, in her recent report to the mayor, said they have at least P144 million available cash; salaries and other statutory obligations were already deducted.
“For the first time mayor, we were able to raise almost P300 million for January and February. The trust is back,” added Quinsaat in replying to the mayor in one those text messages sent late at night.
Pamintuan says “the record at the treasurer speaks for itself as we inherited some P64 million debts in waste management and P21 million in electricity, among others.”
“All the village chiefs in our city will get their share of the Real Property Tax in a few days. Let us not forget that Nepomuceno failed to give all their shares before he stepped down last year,” he added.
Claro M. Recto Barangay Captain Val Lagman, one of the 28 village chiefs who joined Pamintuan in a “Lakbay Aral” in Bohol last week, praised the mayor for staying with them for three days.
“I hope there will be no ‘kotong’ in Angeles victimizing businesses. Revenues should instead be increased to help raise the bar in public service,” says Lagman.
Pamintuan, for his part, says “there is absolutely no kotong in our city today.”
“If they want to help, they could just donate something to the public hospital in Pampang,” the mayor adds.
Emil Pineda, husband of Mabalacat councilor Liza Pineda, recently developed a subdivision in Barangay Tabun here with Willy Tan of Hausland.
Pineda says the mayor could “easily earn P3 million in our project but he refused.”
He says Pamintuan had not given them hard time provided that they will pay all their obligations and taxes required by law.
Councilor Edu Pamintuan, eldest son of Miniang and the mayor, says he had observed his father “all these years as human rights lawyer, vice mayor, mayor, cabinet secretary and now mayor again to the city he loves.”
“I have watched you and try to emulate you. We are so lucky to have a father like you. A hardworking and hands on leader. You are a very funny dad and our superhero,” he says in a text message to EdPam.
The younger Pamintuan, who is married Nicole Ablan, has one wish on his father’s birthday.
He hopes that the mayor can just spend his birthday with his two grandchildren – Lucas and Colin.
“My father is so busy serving his beloved people. I think on his birthday, he should just take his time off and spend it with my children and my mother,” he says.
Asked about his son’s wish, Mayor Pamintuan said “maybe but not that long.”
“I am joining our athletes competing at CLRAA (Central Luzon Regional Athletic Association) sports meet in Bulacan and pump them up with at least two big lechon,” he says.
Indeed, Pamintuan belongs to his people first. The first family of the city can just accept reality.