“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.”
By Alex P. Vidal
NEW YORK CITY– THIS is a tribute to the late Ilonggo philosopher-lawyer Ernesto “Ernie” Dayot, 86, popularly known as “the Socrates of Iloilo”, a dyed-in-the-wool follower of Ayn Rand’s “Objectivist” philosophy and was a one-time a deist like his most favorite philosopher, Voltaire.
If it were Salvador “Doy” Laurel, instead of Mrs. Corazon “Cory” Aquino, who became president via EDSA Revolution in 1986, Ilonggo lawyer Ernesto “Ernie” Justiniani Dayot would have been appointed as chairman of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP).
“Or, panyero Ernie would have been given an ambassadorial position,” the late lawyer Joselito “JT” Barrera once told a group of journalists, while hosting then visiting senatorial candidate Frank Chavez.
Barrera was one of the few Ilonggos privy to Dayot’s closeness with the late former Vice President Laurel, the fifth Prime Minister of the Philippines until his position was abolished.
Barrera said Laurel was most impressed with Dayot in one of the Nacionalista Party (NP) events they both had attended because of the latter’s intellect and photographic memory especially when narrating historical events.
When Laurel was secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs from March 1986 to February 1987, he would invite Dayot and other Ilonggo NP leaders to a private dinner.
“Politics was mentioned occasionally during the private dinner, but we talked mostly about our girlfriends,” lawyer Pascual Espinosa Jr., founder of the Save Our Nation Movement, said in jest.
Dayot always believed in the power of the Ilonggos to excel in arts, science, academics, sports and politics.SUPREMACY
“The Ilonggos have always strove to regain their economic supremacy like in the past when the port of Iloilo was at its busiest and that time Iloilo City was dubbed the ‘Queen City of the South,’” Dayot averred.
Dayot, a native of Dingle, Iloilo but resided in Brgy. Nanga, Guimbal, Iloilo until his death, had identified “a major stumbling block” in the Filipino politicians’ propensity to engage in patronage politics.
Delays in implementation of big projects were blamed for the snail pace of Iloilo’s development in the past.
“Delayed construction of the infrastructure like roads and bridges has taken a heavy toll with the viability of other economic projects government or private that could set high the gear of production for the ultimate progress of Iloilo,” he lamented.
Because of this, Dayot stressed that the economic growth of the province and city had to depend on the management of the powers-that-be.
He pointed out that there is the linkage of the economic growth and the political power, a kind of partnership most common and prevalent in developing countries.
“Like horse and carriage, they are complimentary,” Dayot said.
Like many Ilonggos, Dayot believes that there are more positive and great things to be proud of in the city and province of Iloilo, which boast of intellectual and political landmarks.
He cited the following achievements of Ilonggos:
-Molo was called “the Athens of the Philippines” as it produced senators and jurists in the land and abroad;
-Chief Justices Victoriano Mapa and Ramon Avancena graced the Supreme Court of the Philippines;
-Raymundo Melliza sat in the Cuban court;
-Delfin Jaranilla was appointed after the war in the international tribunal that tried war criminals;
-the three senators produced by Molo district, Iloilo City were Rodolfo Ganzon, Esteban de La Rama, Jose C. Zulueta;
-other Ilonggo senators were Fernando Lopez, who became vice president; Oscar Ledesma, Ruperto Montinola, Tomas Confesor, who became a famous guerrilla fighter as governor of Panay and Romblon in the darkest hours of the occupation;
-Governor Confesor’s letter of reply for an offer of surrender to the Japanese Imperial Army was a classic defiance of the might of the enemy, and a great display of valor that reverberated in the Halls of the U.S. Congress;
-in the revolution against Spain in 1896, the patriotic fervor of the Ilonggos was never wanting as it was tried and tested in the battlefields;
-the Ilonggo resistance was led by Gen. Martin Delgado of Sta. Barbara, Iloilo and ably assisted by Gen. Adriano Dayot Hernandez of Dingle, Iloilo and hosts of other generals and officers in command;
-in World War I, Sergeant Ramon Sobejano of New Lucena, Iloilo was a recipient of the most decorated soldier fighting in Europe;
-in World War II, Captain Jose Calugas of Leon, Iloilo received the most coveted and highest medal of honor in the U.S. Army, the Congressional Medal of Honor.
“As ideas make history,” sighed Dayot, “Iloilo had its height of intellectual activities; it was a beehive of several local and national daily newspapers that projected the burning issues of the day.”
Dayot said from the rank and file editors and writers, came the names of Flavio Zarragoza Cano, the “Ilonggo Cervantes” whom Senator Claro M. Recto had the profound admiration and respect.
He also cited Ezequil Villalobos of Manila Bulletin; Rex Drilon, a political scientist and writer and the first Filipino president of the Central Philippine University (CPU); Stevan Javellana, whose book, “Without Seeing the Dawn,” was translated to several languages. It’s about a story of the Japanese Occupation in the country.
“The Ilonggos today, wherever we are, can look back with great pride of our legacy of greatness,” concluded Dayot.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)