“There is no compromise when it comes to corruption. You have to fight it.” A. K. Antony
By Alex P. Vidal
WHILE others claim they felt “ashamed” when Iloilo was recently referred to as “a bird’s nest of corruption”, the former economic planning chief of the Iloilo provincial government said the issue did not shake his faith in the Ilonggos.
“I am still proud to be an Ilonggo and I am not ashamed to tell the world that I am a resident of Iloilo,” declared 77-year-old Teodoro “Teddy” Sumaray.
Aside from the economic planning portfolio, Sumaray also served for 13 years as press secretary and protocol officer of the late Iloilo Governor Conrado “Rading” Norada in the 70’s and late 80’s before the EDSA Revolution.
Sumaray does not believe that the Ilonggos are corrupt.
“Corruption is not a monopoly of one province (and city). Corruption is endemic in the entire country,” he pointed out even as he criticized the Iloilo City Council for declaring former Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel “Boy M” Mejorada as persona non grata on November 18.
“It (the declaration of persona non grata) was a misplaced reaction,” quipped Sumaray, a resident of Zarraga town but grew up in La Paz district, Iloilo City. “They (city councilors) should have just ignored him (Mejorada).”
Sumaray praised Councilor R Leonie “Boots” Gerochi, the lone member of the city council who did not vote against Mejorada, describing him as “respectful” and “always studying his plans.”
Sumaray was elected as president of the other faction of the Iloilo Press Club in 1990, the same year Mejorada was elected as president of the Iloilo Press and Radio Club (IPRC).
The two press clubs emerged after IBC TV-12 newscaster Bobby Rodriguez’s term as IPRC president expired.
Mejorada and Sumaray had clashed over principles.
The two press clubs have been reunited.
Sumaray, who claimed he bested Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, 69, in their Junior Republic days at the Iloilo National High School in La Paz district in 1960, said, “Ilonggos should be proud of our heritage and history.”
He considers Senate President Franklin Drilon and Defensor-Santiago as among the best contemporary Ilonggo leaders in the national government.
Defensor-Santigao was the best campus writer in the country in 1961 and would have been our president in 1992, said Sumaray, the first scholar of then Iloilo Governor Jose Zulueta.
“We have more reasons to be proud of as Ilonggos rather than be ashamed,” added Sumaray.
He cited the following reasons:
-the first Supreme Court chief justice in the Philippines was Victorino Mapa, an Ilonggo;
-the longest-serving Supreme Court chief justice (24 years) in the Philippines was Ramon Avancena, an Ilonggo;
-the lawyer with the highest rating (96.75%) scored in the Philippine Bar Examination in history was Florenz D. Regalado, an Ilonggo;
-the first deputy speaker in the Philippine legislature under Pesident Sergio Osmena was Nicolas Jalandoni, an Ilonggo;
-the first most bombastic senator in the Philippines known as the “Colossus of the South” was Ruperto Montinola, an Ilonggo;
-the first doctor of pharmacology in the Philippines was Joaquin Maranon, an Ilonggo;
-the first woman civil engineer in the Philippines was Josette Garcia-Portigo, an Ilongga;
-the first elementary school established under the American educational system was the Baluarte Elementary School in Molo district, Iloilo City;
The first national high school established outside Manila in 1902 was the Iloilo National High School in La Paz district, Iloilo City;
Sumaray said Iloilo was the pride of the entire country and considered as the best province during the Spanish era.
“We used to be called as the ‘Queen City of the South’ and Molo (district) was considered as the Athens of the Philippines,” explained Sumaray. “More boys from Molo studied in Europe than in the Philippines. Some of the best intellectuals in the country are Ilonggos.”
Graduated a cum laude in the Central Philippine University (CPU) College of Agriculture in 1964, Sumaray’s parents were Placido Poblador Sumaray, Sr. and Floreta Sequite-Sumaray.
He described his Ilonggo children as “all intellectuals” starting from eldest Roberto, a cum laude in the University of the Philippines School of Economics; only lady Rhodora Mae, former chief of staff of former Vice President Teopisto “Tito” Guingona; Arturo, a mathematics wizard; and Jose Manuel, an Information Technology (IT) expert.
Sumaray, born on May 7, 1937, described his wife, Rohita Robles, 73, as also an intellectual but a “low profile” person.