Manunggal activity

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By Godofredo M. Roperos

Politics also

Friday, March 22, 2013

WHAT began as a deep tragic event in the history of a non-descript rural town on the west coast of Cebu more than half a century ago has become a significant annual activity to remember the death of a president. The crash of a plane in the then unknown Manunggal mountain in Balamban 56 years ago made history.

Thus, for more than half a century since March 17, 1957, the people of the country recall the night when the pilots miscalculated the height of the takeoff and hit Manunggal, ending the colorful and popular life of Ramon Magsaysay, the so-called man of the masses.

Before President Magsaysay, leaders of the country had been among the nation’s elite, the ilustrados--so speak--of the national society. But the emergence of Magsaysay in the nation’s political landscape ushered in the leadership of the so-called common tao. It was a momentous even in the country’s history.


And so, on Magsaysay’s 56th death anniversary, the people of Balamban, led by its Mayor Ace Stefan Binghay, a young third generation leader of the municipality, also held an activity that featured what pleases the common tao. The Barangay Council of Sunog, where Mt. Manunggal is located, had the Mt. Manunggal Adventure Trek participated in by hundreds of villagers. There was the Trail Run Competition.

Also held was a cockfight. And despite the summer heat, they put in a pig-catching contest. The mountain trees offered the campers cool breeze, lending a rural atmosphere to the horde who trekked the rugged terrain. They included the visiting members of the Magsaysay clan, and some local politicians.

However, this being an election year, we can no more prevent the touch of politics among the visitors than we can the cool breeze aand soft ground of the village. Thus, among the visitors with the Magsaysays were Mayor Ace, his father, Provincial Board Member Alex Binghay and Ace’s mother, Vice Mayor Rosario Binghay.

Suspended governor Gwen Garcia came and rendered a song to the Manunggal trekkers. The opposition group of Jun-jun Davide and his father, former chief justice Hilario Davide Jr., also came to render their respects to the late Ramon Magsaysay.

In any case, the rural festival in Barangay Sunog has become a fitting remembrance of the historical event that for the first time ushered in the participation and highlighted the importance of the common tao in the politics of contemporary times.

The politics of the Filipino elite had “cracked” and given way, at last, to the apolitical masses.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 22, 2013.


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