IT WAS a picture that launched a hundred searches in the web, only to find an interesting story in my own blog.

    That was that of Mabalacat City Mayor Marino “Boking” Morales at his best oratorical pose addressing his supporters prior to filing his certificate of candidacy. Which he withdrew days later.

    What caught the eye of readers was the dominant titan of Mabalacat politics for over two decades, uncharacteristically dwarfed by the bold brass inscription “DELFIN S. LEE BLDG.” on the façade of city hall.

    Did we see some augury for Boking there that piqued our curiosity? No, we just suddenly missed Delfin Lee. Hence, this reminiscence from a 2009 feature headlined San Delfin de Xevera.

    THERE MAY be no “Delfin” entered as yet in the Calendar of Saints of the Roman Catholic Church but already a San Delfin de Xevera is enshrined in the hearts of many Kapampangans.

    Hear Mabalacat Mayor Marino “Boking” Morales speak of Delfin Lee and come to the conclusion that, indeed, the man – Delfin, not Boking – has met the full measure of miracles requisite to a canonization.

    “Delfin Lee is the greatest miracle that has ever happened to my town. See how he transformed the howling wilderness of lahar that is Barangay Tabun, into the bustling, cosmopolitan community that is Xevera- Mabalacat,” the mayor said in awe.

    “There is inherent goodness in his heart, so manifest in his willingness to invest, not only his material resources, but his very self in uplifting the dignity of his fellowmen, most especially the small people. When you come to think of it, isn’t that what sainthood is all about, the giving of self for others?”

    On Delfin Lee, the very secular, even bohemian Boking suddenly turns theological! Isn’t this a miracle in itself?

    On a purely secular level now is Pampanga 1st District Rep. Carmelo “Tarzan” Lazatin speaking: “If there is one person that can help uplift the lives of Filipinos by solving the problem of informal settlers in the country, that will be Delfin Lee.”

    The scion of Pampanga’s landed gentry could only gush in admiration: “I am also a developer but with what Delfin Lee did to Xevera, he upped the ante, making it a difficult challenge for us to emulate.”

    In his column Etcetera in the weekly Banner, Emilio Sese-Cruz had this to say in the piece headlined “Only Xevera, only Delfin Lee,” to wit: “Delfin Lee never ceases to cause wonder.

    No, make that awe…This is one guy who has redefined the whole concept, and practice, of land development.

    Where other developers simply build houses, Delfin Lee – ALONE – builds communities.

    Not just communities, mind you, but total communities not simply meeting the needs of the inhabitants, but respecting, if not uplifting, their very dignity.”

    A tough act to follow indeed!

    For no less than the United Nations recognized the Xevera projects as “the template for urban development” and Delfin Lee as “a developer who, through harmonious relationships among the private sector, government sector, and various nongovernment organizations, has come up with a sustainable project that will help decongest highly-urbanized areas.”

    Of deeper appreciation for Delfin Lee’s vision, mission and initiatives than that stated in the UN citation is the fact that he built his templates upon virtual wastelands – Calibutbut in Bacolor which may not have been swamped in the lahar rampages but was not spared from the heavy ashfall of the Mt. Pinatubo eruptions, and now, Tabun in Mabalacat which – true to its Kapampangan name – was indeed buried in lahar. A missionary spirit obtains in Delfin Lee there, treading – so to speak – where even angels feared to tread. So how many missionaries have become saints?

    A church builder, Delfin Lee is too – the place of worship ever at the center of the communities he builds: Sanctuario de San Miguel in Xevera- Bacolor, and Sanctuario de San Angelo in Xevera-Mabalacat, which immediately upon completion of construction are turned over to Mother Church, with deeds of donation to the Archdiocese of San Fernando (Pampanga).

    In early medieval times, Delfin Lee’s churchbuilding efforts would have easily merited a cardinal’s hat for him, and a sure beatification.

    That’s too far-off an era now, and Delfin Lee would be the first to disavow any claim to holiness.

    The accolades heaped upon him, Delfin Lee accepts with all humility, and considers them as challenges for him to do even better: “We feel honored (by the recognition). These will further inspire us to provide optimum services for the betterment of the lives of Filipinos.”

    As a Punto! editorial once concluded: “More than a field of dreams – remember that line, “Build it and they will come”? – Delfin Lee has made that cherished dream of every Filipino – to have a house of his own – come to full realization. And more – a home in a community befitting of human dignity.”

    Fittingly then – even unbeatified and uncanonized and therefore without the reverential “San” before his name, Delfin Lee of Xevera is enshrined in every heart in every one of those homes.

    * * *

    AH, the vagaries of fate! The man virtually revered atop a pedestal then languishes now in the Pampanga Provincial Jail.

    Ah, the viciousness of politics! The man twice set to testify at the Binay “corruption” hearings at the Senate — with advice from the Supreme Court at that! – barred at the last moment.

    Ah, dura lex! How many TROs, petitions and other remedies have been issued, reaching the SC itself, still Delfin Lee has yet to have his day in court.


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