Two Incidents that Made Me Have an Utmost Respect
To Governor Pax Mangudadatu of Sultan Kudarat Province
By Apolinario Villalobos
I do not know the guy personally, except as being a well-loved governor of Sultan Kudarat based on the stories that I have heard. But two incidents that I personally encountered confirmed the stories about his benevolence and fatherly character.
During the Kalimudan Festival 2017, I attended the Rural Health Workers’ Day at the Capitol Gym after missing the Children’s Day, the day before. I needed to have something to blog about the festival that I have missed for several years. I took photos of the different groups that took turns in showing their patiently-rehearsed numbers at the center of the basketball court. On the stage was the presidential table where officials including the honorable Pax Mangudadatu were seated. Later, I sat two paces away from him and had a chance to observe him.
When lunch was served, he did not touch his food while the rest were enjoying theirs. He was looking at the Rural Workers from the different municipalities of the province, and who were occupying the bleachers and it dawned on me that he was also observing the Jollibee reps who were distributing packed lunches. After awhile, he stood up and took the microphone through which he asked the Jollibee reps to say, “please, pakibigyan ang lahat ng mga tao ng pagkain… at baka pwedeng bilisan lang…”. He did not return to his seat, until everybody had their lunch in styro box.
Just recently, I dropped by his office but found him surrounded with staff and visitors. His secretary made take a seat not far from him, so that we could immediately talk after the last staff with documents for signature would have left. What caught my attention was his softly- spoken remark to a staff who explained to him about a project that was intended for Muslims. He said, “ayaw ko ng ganyan….gusto ko para sa Christians at Muslims….hindi lang Muslims”. The staff withdrew the documents. When he noticed me, he smiled and shook my hands and before he stood up for a meeting in another room, we had a comparably lengthy talk.
For those who are not familiar with the province of Sultan Kudarat, Muslims and Christians inhabit its lowlands and the highlands are by the Lumads. The province used to be part of North Cotabato when the original Cotabato Province was divided into two – North and South. Later, North Cotabato was further divided resulting to the creation of Sultan Kudarat and Maguindanao. Isulan is the capital town of Sultan Kudarat.