Remembering Epi

Ferdinand Topacio
Epi looked frail and lost weight the last time I saw him, and I knew by instinct he was quite ill, but he was his usual upbeat, jocular self

I have known “Epi” (Epimaco Velasco) for as long as I can remember. He was with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), while my father Arturo Jr was a city councilor of Cavite (and later Provincial Board Member). They constantly got together for dinner and drinks.

Later on, they worked together when Fred Lim was appointed NBI director, and he brought my father along as one his personal lawyers; Epi then was the assistant director. When Lim resigned to run for mayor of Manila, he and my father worked to have Epi appointed by Cory Aquino as the first NBI director to come from the ranks.

When Epi ran for Governor against Johnny Remulla, my dad’s cousin, my dad campaigned against Epi but strangely, this did not affect their friendship. When Epi won, he offered my dad a job at the Capitol, but my dad refused out of respect to Remulla.

When Epi ran for Congress and later for reelection as governor (he lost in both instances), my father was again on the other side of the political fence. Still, they remained close friends and met occasionally, sometimes at our ancestral residence in Cavite or at the farm of the Velascos in Tanza. Epi’s son Emmanuel (Manny) was a close friend. In fact, he is one of the 4 godfathers to my elder son, Jose Arturo III. We used to drink at our farm in Silang, Cavite (since turned into a memorial park), shoot free-range ducks or geese, which we would roast and have for dinner.

I would also regularly visit him at his Department of Justice office (he was a senior state prosecutor) and we would have dinner and drinks in one of the many restaurants in Manila. We had a serious falling out in 2006 over a case involving journalist Anthony Taberna’s cousin, but we reconciled after a year, and the friendship remained close until his death in May 2013. I was not able to talk to Epi at Manny’s wake because his relatives told me he was resting as he understandably took Manny’s death badly. Manny was his favorite child.

Epi was my co-counsel in two cases involving the Steel Corporation of the Philippines, and coincidentally, he was also quite close to my mother-in-law. They and a group of friends attended family events like birthdays and anniversaries on a regular basis.

I last talked to him shortly before the 2013 elections, when he told me he wanted to campaign for “Erap” in Manila. I relayed the message to the former president and gave his contact number, but I don’t know what came of it since I did not campaign for Erap in Manila – notwithstanding my closeness to him. It was because I am also close to Mayor Fred Lim, who stood as principal sponsor in my wedding. Epi looked frail and lost weight the last time I saw him, and I knew by instinct he was quite ill, but he was his usual upbeat, jocular self.

Eulogy

Maraming Salamat kay Gobernador JonVic Remulla, bantog na anak ng isang pinagbubunying ama na kabilang sa isang maginoong angkan sa ating lalawigan na siyang nagbigay sa akin ng pagkakataong parangalan ang isang maalamat na tao sa ating lipunan.

Nasusulat sa Ecclesiastes, sa Tres, ang talata ay Uno hanggang Cuatro:

3:1 Sa bawa’t bagay ay may kapanahunan, at panahon sa bawa’t panukala sa silong ng langit:

3:2 Panahon ng kapanganakan, at panahon ng kamatayan; panahon ng pagtatanim, at panahon ng pagbunot ng itinanim;

3:3 Panahon ng pagpatay, at panahon ng pagpapagaling; panahon ng paggiba, at panahon ng pagtatayo;

3:4 Panahon ng pag-iyak, at panahon ng pagtawa; panahon ng pagtangis, at panahon ng pagsayaw;

Sa dahilan ngang pumanaw ang isang dakilang tao sa ating lalawigan, ngayong mga araw na ito ay panahon ng pag-iyak. Nguni’t kung ating susuriin, dapat din nating Ipagdiwang ang katotohanang sa ating buhay ay nakasama natin ang isang tunay na kaibigan, kapatid, ama ng lalawigan at totoong lingkod ng bayan.

Hindi ko na iisa-isahin ang kanyang mga natamong karangalan, sapagka’t ang mga yaon ay hayag naman sa ating lahat. Ang nais ko na lamang idiin ay ang kanyang kabutihan bilang isang tao. At isa nga sa matibay na patotoo sa kanyang kabutihan ay ang pagkakataong ito, kung saan si Gobernador Remulla, na ang ama at kapatid ay kapwa naging katunggali ni Gobernador Velasco sa pulitika, ay nangunguna ngayon sa pagpaparangal sa kanyang alaala. Katotohanang-katotohanan lamang na kay Epi, walang personalan ang pulitika. Ito ay isang uliran na dapat sundin ng kasalukuyang nakaupo sa Malacañang at ang kanyang mga kampon dito sa Kabite.

Si Epimaco Velasco ay matagal nang kaibigan ng aking ama, at sa ganoon ko siya unang nakilala. Ang pagkakaibigang ito ay nanatili nang walang patid, bagama’t mas malimit kaysa hindi ay nasa magkabilang-panig sila sa pulitika. Kaya’t labis-labis ang pagkalungkot ng aking ama sa pagpanaw ng kanyang kaibigan at kung hindi lamang siya ay nasa kalagayang di makalakad at naka-upuang de gulong, dapat sana ay naririto siya. Ang pagkakaibigang ito ay pinagpatuloy namin ng kanyang anak, ang nasirang Manny Velasco, na naging kumpareng buo ko pa bilang ninong ng aking panganay sa kaisa-isang ko pong asawa.

Kahit sa huling yugto ng kaniyang buhay ay palagi kaming nagkikita ni Gob Epi. Naging karangalan kong makasama siya sa ilang paglilitis bilang kapwa manananggol, at dahil siya nga ay kaibigan, di lamang ng aking ama kundi ng aking biyenang babae, ay napapadalaw din siya sa aming tahanan o nakakasalo ko sa hapag-kainan. Sa aming pagkukuwentuhan ay nalaman ko ang maraming bagay tungkol sa kanya: ang kanyang abang pinagmulan, ang kanyang pagpupunyaging maging abogado upang maiangat ang sarili’t sambahayan sa paghihirap, ang kanyang mga nagawa sa larangan ng pagiging alagad ng batas, pinunong lokal at kalihim sa gabinete. Tunay na kapupulutan ng aral ang kanyang buhay, kaya’t mabuti na lamang na ito ay naisa-pelikula na itinampok pa ang Hari ng Pinilakang-Tabing na si Fernando Poe Jr upang ang mga darating na salinlahi ay makapanood nito at mapakinabangan ito.

Ito ang dahilan kung bakit marami ang nalulungkot sa kanyang pagpanaw. Hindi maipagkakailang nawalan ng isang bituing maningning ang ating lalawigan. Nguni’t nais ko sana kayong alu-aluin sa pamamagitan ng paghimok na gunitain na lamang natin ang dangal na kanyang iginawad sa Lalawigan ng Kabite at sa lahat nating mga Kabitenyo. Wala na siya sa piling natin ngayon, nguni’t ang kanyang mga nagawa, ang kanyang adhikain, ang kanyang buong pagkatao, na siyang pamana niya sa ating lahat, ay hinding-hindi papanaw magpakailan-kailan man. –  Rappler.com


Editor’s Note: Epimaco Velasco, former director of the National Bureau of Investigation, died of a heart attack on Monday, January 27. He was 78. He served as governor of Cavite from 1995-1998, and Interior Secretary from Feb 4 to May 30, also in 1998. He will be cremated this Sunday, February 2.

 

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.