PRRM’s NE Branch has always been a close family. Diverse but tightly knitted. There are people who got/gets irritated by this camaraderie that sometimes border to being parochial. But that’s just being them. They mean no harm.
Definitely a sentimental lot, they tell their stories based on the milieu of their respective times: at the research office of CLSU for those who came first in 1989, the Pulido building during the SRDDP nascent years, Joenga building for the young Turks, then finally settling down at the Bantug compound for those who survived the traumatic streamlining process. Even the company vehicles have names like Cinense whom many have not met but have heard so much, the great Nissan, sleek Strada, Egay 1 (i.e. Honda TS 100), Wating 1 and 2 (i.e. a pair of Honda scooters), and the macho Yamaha DT 125. Each has their own stories to tell too.
The thing is those who spent time in the NE Branch never forgot. Doc Danny, who was the first Branch Manager in 1989, still regularly sends invitations to research projects and workshops. Magdalo lawyer Roel Pulido dropped by one mid-afternoon for an inuman while on his way to a bista in Santiago, Isabela. Emma who now spends most of her time in Spain assembles a team of mostly NE Branch alumni for a game of “badminton” every now and then. She was deployed in Cavite then Camiguin after suceeding Loudette (who was Field Operations Manager at the same time) as NE Branch Manager.
One day, Doods sent some moolah from Canada. His instructions were to spend half on something good (eyes still get misty recalling that moment in a public hospital with the family of an indigent sick girl where the money went) and the other half for the boys. Then Mama Butch who was the NE Branch’s “Ina ng Laging Saklolo” visited from the US and cooked a big lunch for those that can be gathered for an instant reunion. “Sagot ko lahat, huwag kayong gagastos!” he said. Some months later, NE Branch again came together at Sir Marlon’s Guimba resort to partake of a huge package of goodies Mama Butch sent from the States.
If the sun did never set on the British Empire, the same can be claimed by the NE Branch which has contributed Branch Managers in almost every PRRM program area. Al Carasco (a legend still being told about him is his frequent trips to Bicol from Nueva Ecija riding the DT 125) was re-assigned to Camarines Sur and Buboy Velasco to Negros Occidental after brief stints as NE Branch Managers. Then Sir Marlon established the record of being the first homegrown manager, was assigned to Ifugao and Palawan, before being kicked upstairs as Assistant Vice-president. His INAFI office at the PRRM National Headquarters is unofficially today’s “tambayan ng mga tiga-NE”.
Sir Marlon paved the way for a host of homegrown talents that later became managers, the most number coming from a single Branch. There’s Joey for Pampanga then North Cotabato where he is now Assistant Director for Mindanao and the Visayas; Upeng (i.e. Randy Dacanay) in Bataan, and Kalinga (i.e. Sir Tolits) in Nueva Ecija then Marinduque; Machete (i.e. Rolly) in Palawan and Dondon in Camiguin; Nini, Irene and Shubert in Nueva Ecija; and Amor in Quezon. Doc Aidee was a volunteer in the 1990 Carranglan earthquake relief operations when she was hired as the NE Branch resident health analyst, redeployed to Bataan, then to the central office to manage PRRM's health program. Coming in also as GFMC Provincial Project Officers were Elgie in Isabela and Tatang (i.e. Noel, the chief operating officer of Among Ed’s successful gubernatorial campaign) in Zambales. Mikoy (i.e. Mickey) also served in various times as officer-in-charge of the Bulacan and Quezon Field Offices, while Wating (i.e. Arden) is now the General Manager of KOOL NE.
Today, they still come together to relieve the glorious days of the NE Branch. Those in Nueva Ecija are in a continuum as members of the provincial PRRM Chapter whose meetings are like the genstaps of old that the great Dofong (i.e Sir Marlon) presided. They were good and they tried to be the best. NEthing, NEwhere, NEtime. They do not gloat on this but they are proud of it.
Profile: The Church of Ibaan and the Lipa City Cathedral in Batangas
The mission of Ibaan was established by Fr. Manuel Grijalbo (OSA) in 1832. The building of the present church of Santiago Apostol was started in 1853 during the administration of Fr. Manuel Gonzales (OSA). It was continued during the term of Fr. Bruno Laredo (OSA) in 1865 and finished under the supervision of Fr. Vicente Maril (OSA). Fr. Francisco Alvarez (OSA) had the church repaired from 1891 until 1896 after it was damaged during the 1880 earthquake.
In 1581, Fr. Diego Mojica (OSA) had the first church of Lipa built along the shores of the Bombon Lake. What was probably the second church was built in 1601 that was probably improved or rebuilt from 1682-1721 wherein the convent was added. This was destroyed during the 1754 eruption of Taal Volcano. The church was relocated to a new site where the present structure was probably built from 1779 1865 under the successive supervisions of Fr. Ignacio Pallares (OSA), Fr. Manuel Galiana (OSA), Fr. Pedro Cuesta (OSA), Fr. Manuel Diez Gonzalez (OSA), and Fr. Benito Varas (OSA). The church was the matrix from which the Diocese of Lipa was created in 1910, was declared as a Basilica Minor in 1948, and a cathedral during the administration of Rufino Cardinal Santos.
PHOTOS (top to bottom):
(1) Magdalo lawyer Ruel Pulido as NE Branch Manager; (2) Emma (left), Manong Edmund (center), and Irene (right); (3) clockwise: Tatang, Mama Butch, Manok, and Roma during Mama Butch’s NE Branch homecoming; (4) Mama Butch sent a package and NE Branch had a reunion at Sir Marlon’s resort; (5) the 2 guys on the left side (clockwise) are Buboy Velasco and Sir Marlon; (6) Amor (standing with toy gun) and Sir Tolits (right); (7) A younger Dondon (with bigote) with a younger Ka Satur in a Bayan symposium in Cabanatuan City; (8) the church of Ibaan; (9) and the spire of the Lipa City Cathedral.