The Charisma of Sultan Kudarat Gov. Pax Mangudadatu
And the Inspiring Message in His Speech During the BHW Day (November 9, 2017)
By Apolinario Villalobos
I almost missed my chance to meet Sultan Kudarat Governor, Pax Mangudadatu when my schedule on November 9 got mixed up. Had Lotlot Espinosa, not called me about my promise to join her for the Barangay Health Workers’ (BHW) Day at the Capitol Gym, I could have opted for two other appointments. The celebration was among those lined up for the more than one month celebration of the Kalimudan Festival 2017…the 19th year.
Inside the imposing Capitol Gym, the BHWs of the different municipalities including those of Tacurong City represented by the Baras Sanctuary, were already jam-packed on the lower level of the bleachers. The groups were colorfully distinguished by the color of their t-shirts. The honorable governor was already almost halfway from finishing his speech when we entered and considered myself lucky to have caught up with his speech filled with historic details about the province. The portion of his speech that first caught my attention was his declaration of utmost GRATITUDE to the Christians for coming during the 1900’s and helped a lot in educating the indigenous inhabitants, especially, the Muslims.
He called on the Sultan Kudaratnons to be TOLERANT in view of the multi-cultured character of the populace. He was practically appealing for UNITY despite differences in religion. He unabashedly mentioned his humble beginnings, practically, struggling to be where he is now, but adding that what he is today, including the political mandates, he owed to God. He underlined his hatred of illegal drugs, thankful that the nation has Duterte as President. But what made his speech very remarkable was his emphasis on the Oneness of God, whatever He is called in various religions which practically struck me. Later, when I sat beside him at the presidential table on stage, I noticed his Masonic ring.
While those seated at the presidential table started to enjoy their lunch, the governor kept on looking around until he stood up, went to the lectern and over the microphone, asked the Jollibee representatives to see to it that everybody was given a packed lunch. I heard a story about his giving his portion of lunch to the guy seated not far from him when he noticed that he has not gotten enough on his plate. With what I have personally witnessed that lunchtime inside the gym, the story about his benevolence has been confirmed.
Before he left the building, he approached the different groups, and that was when I saw how close he is to his constituents. Despite his little more than 70 years of age, he spritely shook hands and gamely allowed himself to be photographed in their company…the sight was overwhelming! For me, he should be appropriately called, the “Bapa of the Masses” (uncle of the masses).
The smile never left his serene face which made him more close to his Rural Health Workers. While looking at him obviously enjoying their company, his soft voice as we conversed a few minutes back, lingered in my mind. I contented myself taking occasional photos and from a short distance, let ecstatic health workers/volunteers savor the special moment with him as for the others to come are for his other constituents…the elders and PWEDs, the artists, etc.
I am praying for your health, Bapa Gov Pax!…More power to you!