A pall of gloom has fallen over the city of Dumaguete as flags fly half-mast in a tribute to Gov. Agustin “Tuting” Perdices who died Wednesday, Jan. 5 after a short, but painful bout with gastric cancer.
His remains were transferred to the City Hall at noon yesterday, amid a slight drizzle, after a necrological mass at 10 a.m. in the Provincial Capitol, where he laid in state for two days.
Paul “Nonong” Honculada, long-time associate of the governor even before he entered politics, said in a eulogy he delivered last Saturday at the Provincial Capitol that it was easy to like and love a person like Perdices.
“Despite his lofty position in politics, his eminent family background – one that people can call buena familia – and his prominence in society, he has remained consistent with the nature of his personality up to the end,” Honculada, who served in various capacities in the city government and lately, as provincial administrator until his optional retirement a day after Perdices died, said.
Honculada relates: “How would you feel if your boss would call you to his office and tell you pointblank, ‘You know, Paul, these are the things that I do not like in you,’ and proceeds to enumerate some of your detestable characteristics.
That was exactly how Gov. Perdices sounded when he himself said the things that he found despicable about him face to face, Honculada said.
Although he was initially shocked, Honculada said he immediately recovered because, after his tirade, he then said, ‘Now, it’s your turn. What do you not like in me and about me?’ “
Honculada, who had met the governor through a friend, said Tuting was open and sincere, a no-frills person; he had no drama, what you saw was what you got from him. He was fair in his dealings with everyone. He remained firm in his decisions. His trust in people whom he had known and worked with is legendary. He did not speak ill about anyone and hardly did he lose his patience or his temper.
Honculada also said, “When people would make some unsavory remarks about someone whom he trusts, he will not take it seriously and would not believe it. But, if you happened to betray Gov. Perdices’ trust, even if you may not really have done anything wrong and the allegations about you are also wrong, he would tend to believe that you had actually done it.”
Always the careful spender, he was conscious of the money that comes from the people and, that it should be given back to them in the form of projects and services. In instances where only a few can be benefited by a limited amount of money, he would order that the money be added instead to projects that would benefit the majority, Honculada said.
This frugality of the governor even extended to his personal life. “I remembered a time when we had snacks in McDonald’s – he ordered apple pie and told me, “Tunga lang ta ani, Paul (Let’s take half each, Paul)”. Even when Perdices was out of public service and Honculada was out of City Hall himself, they would try to catch up on each other and do simple things, like buying a pair of maong pants.
“He enjoyed his privacy in those years, something that was precious to him,” said Honculada, who was with Perdices in 1987, who was then fresh from Manila, when they campaigned for the candidacy of Miguel “Mike” Romero in Congress.
Perdices was a mechanical engineer and so, he was known for the concreting of the city roads as well as other infrastructure. But, any leader could have done that, Honculada said. “I think Gov. Perdices would want to be remembered as a leader who helped change the lives of the people for the better and for Dumaguete to live up to its name as a City of Gentle People.”
His six months as governor of the province of Negros Oriental was very significant. On December 28, 2010, the Kasaligan Transport Service went on full swing, and farmers from north to south can now personally bring their produce straight to the market and the buyers, thus, determining the prices of their goods themselves.
While we have lost Gov. Perdices, his legacy will remain in the hearts of many Dumagueteños and Negrenses forever, Honculada said. “Although his temporal life has now found solace in eternal life, we are consoled by the fact that his strong faith in God prepared him for this eventuality, where we would all go, anyway. He loved our city and our province until the end and for that, we are forever grateful,” Honculada added.*CG
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