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The President's 


Venerable guests and local dignitaries, our local government officials headed by the commander-in-chief of our hometown, our beloved Mayor Jose "Choy" Ginez, my fellow balikbayan, school faculty and personnel, barangay officials, friends, relatives, ladies and gentlemen, good evening!

It's been more than twenty years since my last appearance to the public and speaking to the curious audience right here in our auditorium. Most of them were my contemporaries and youth leaders who were attending the Varsitarian Night during our town fiesta in the early 1980s. This is a group of aspiring college students in Santa Maria taking a brief respite from the hustle-bustle of university life in Manila, Baguio City, Dagupan and other nearby campuses here in Pangasinan. I was then one of the masters of ceremonies during that one gathering.

But before I go any further, if you don't mind, please allow me to reminisce the past -- just a little glimpse of yesteryears so to speak. How is Santa Maria during those memorable days of my teenage years?

Shortly after I graduated from college, at the tender age of 21, I left our hometown bound for California. During that time, as far as I am aware of, Mayor Ginez is the incumbent barangay captain of Poblacion East. Although we didn't interact each other quite often, both of us knew from the heart that we're on the "same boat." We have that natural instinct of leadership and public service in the political realm. In the early 1980s, we've been craving for political reforms in Santa Maria that the new generation of politically inclined youth leaders should be given the favorable chance to execute their new ideas, to prove their full potential, to propose new approach in handling political affairs towards a new direction for Santa Maria. Two years later, here came the EDSA Revolution in 1986 that toppled the Marcos regime. Mayor Ginez became the OIC and the rest is history.  

What is truly gratifying to note but humbly acknowledging it, is that, when the mayor and his wife visited California in August of 2005 to grace our Grand Reunion, Dinner and Dance, I was mentioning in my welcome address to our kakailian in California and to the delegation from Hawaii who attended our gathering -- that, after twenty years, Mayor Ginez is still the mayor and I am still the president of the association. And tonight, we are still holding the same leadership position.

I am honored, along with my comrades from California, for the invitation to attend this morning's inauguration of the WELCOME ARC project that was completed on time for our town fiesta this year.  I considered a blessing for the mayor's visit to California because his close and personal interaction with us has driven our desire to put up our first project immediately. I am overwhelmed because it was completed in just six months amidst those torrential rains, the occasional typhoons and the gloomy weather during those first couple of months from June to July of last year. Our vice-president of the association, Arme Olivar-Nicolas even said that our project is like "rocking and rolling" because we were being updated with the progress almost every week through electronic mail correspondence. Even in the midst of our pre-occupied work schedule in California, everyone is being informed in just one click on our personal computer. Everyone is truly delighted.

I am also glad to be home to feel the warmth of tropical summer, mingle with the dust and smell the air. I'm sure my fellow balikbayan will agree with me when I say there's no place like home. In fact, this is my first time to attend our town fiesta after 22 years. And there are many things to look forward and to catch up with my old friends, former neighbors and contemporaries. The living pictures of life I left behind, and to see the changes and the progress as time goes by really fascinate me most. But I can assure you that even I am away from my native home, I remained to be a GI. Many of you probably know what I am talking about when I say these two magic letters G and I. Of course, I'm a Genuine Ilocano! Also, I will always be an FBS a Full-Blooded Santamarian. 

To my fellow balikbayan, I urge you to keep that unconditional love and affection to our hometown as we continue our long journey in life in our foster homeland. We owe her a lot despite the struggles and frugality of life we've gone through when were still young and searching for the right direction. Even we are now standing in a pedestal of economic prosperity in America, in Europe and in other parts of the world, we should always look back and never deny that our roots came from this small town. We owe our perseverance, work ethics, and moral values in this place with humble and simple beginnings. We should take pride of our cultural heritage and the color of our skin. We, Filipinos, particularly Ilocanos are unique. We are noted for our strong family ties, warm hospitality and of being hardworking and adventurous. We should always carry our humble and jolly dispositions with us wherever we are and whenever we might be.

Kunatayo a patneng nga Ilocano "Saan koma nga agkupas ti iliw ken lagip iti lugartayo a Santa Maria. Ditoy ti nakakitaantayo iti umuna a lawag a nangitunda kadatayo nga agarapaap. Ditoy a nadamilitayo ken natennebtayo babaen dagiti agduduma ramen ti napalabas a panagbiag nanipud panagubingtayo. Pinatibkernatayo kadagidi rigrigat ken sakripisyo a nagdalanantayo. Dagidi tedted ti ling-ettayo ken puwersa dagiti takiagtayo, pinasam-itna ti grasia a sagsagrapentayo ita. Dagidi lua, saem, sennaay ken sugat pinaturedna ti nakemtayo a makidaksanggasat iti biag uray ti ballasiw-taaw." Now we have all the resources, intellect and refined character not only to search for greener pastures and to seize the opportunity, but also have prepared us to become more courageous, sympathetic, competitive and more dignified individuals.

I would like also to commend our municipal officials, the members of the Sangguniang Bayan and all the government and private sectors that are working hand in hand for a progressive and peaceful Santa Maria. Now that the election campaign and propaganda have started pervading in our locality, we should always strive to be consistently appealing if we are in the public service. The measure of our quality as a public person, as a citizen, is the gap between what we do and what we say. One does not need to pit one group or individual against another for his or her own selfish motives. Either we rise together above our self-centered bickering and factional quarrels or we fall into the pits we have dug for one another. We should therefore keep politics a constructive and unifying force.

We are now living in a changing world! We are in the threshold of high technology that will continue to affect us, if not, to invade us especially in our exchange of communications. We now deal with wireless technology everyday. E-mail and text messaging are now common scenarios to contact others especially to our younger generation. We carry digital accessories and computer gadgets cell phones, MP3 player, Ipod and bluetooth headset. If we indulge ourselves with our personal computers, we get familiarized with high-tech terminologies and advanced features that our mind can't even catch up because of so many upgrades, more complicated programs and new automation.  We deal with spreadsheets, database, word files and among others. We surf the Internet.

Despite all these technology innovations that have significantly changed our way of life today and will continue to trigger the level of our intelligence, test our faith and challenge our human existence, we should always keep in mind that aiming for peace will never be out of the picture in any given period of our human history. We dream. We pray for it. We rally and we fight for in our lifetime so that our community, our leaders, our hometown, our country in general will prosper to the fullest and attain justice and total stability in all the frameworks of the government.

It is a timely occasion for us to reflect on the theme of this year's town fiesta  Pooling Forces And Setting Up Avenues Anchored On Productivity, Responsibility And Efficiency. It is so relevant for all of us as concerned individuals, as law-abiding citizens, as a family or as members of our community.

Pooling forces is focusing our attention and complementing each other's resources, talents, ideas and initiative in the rightful place for a common purpose. If we only realize that each one of us has a role to play, to contribute, even to the least and to the most of who we are, from all walks of life -- whether we are just a typical farmer, a plain housewife, a teacher, a teenager, a doctoral degree holder, a musician, a carpenter, a lawyer, a church leader, a market vendor, a laborer or a domestic helper; if we only practice more on humility, generosity and plain honesty in everything we do for ourselves and for others, then we can make a big difference in our hometown and would experience a significant impact in our environment. Our hometown will achieve stability. Santa Maria will not only become a tranquil refuge for many of our kakailian living abroad when they take their vacation to pay homage to their roots, but also a safe and conducive place to live in for all of us here at home.

But in order to realize this living picture of a renewed hope, each of us must examine oneself that is, our submission for change coupled with a winning and positive attitude. Remember, one person can already make a difference to reach our common goal. But if all of us will join our hands together, then we can achieve more and make a very significant result. But first, let that one seed of transformation begins and reigns within us as an individual so that it can gradually spread into our family, to our neighborhood, then to our community and to the whole municipality.

Many of you may have heard this from different speakers especially our traditional politicians, prominent public figures and even preachers in the past but just remember that if we just go back to the basic rules and principles of sensible living, then everything will work together in harmony in its rightful position. First and foremost, peace and love should reign in every mind and heart, so that joy and happiness will come in succession. Unity, cooperation and reconciliation among us are just as effortless to achieve. These are all God-given forces designed for humanity that can change every aspect of our life and conquer the whole world whether in running our government, in keeping our family solidarity, in our job security, in our social interaction with other people, in our spiritual growth, in keeping the moral fabric of our society, in our human survival and even running our business and economy. If we have all this working together in our midst, there's no doubt, we will attain progress, prosperity, productivity, stability and efficiency. We will enjoy life to the fullest!

So let's pull together even more and continue these forces to reign in our hometown so that the end results will be more visible and intense as compared two decades ago. I assure you Santa Maria will never be the same again. We will shine like a "diamond in the rough." My commendations to the present administration under the stewardship of our mayor for his foresight, his continued improvement plans and resolutions, his courage and perseverance and above all, his self-confidence and his ever-increasing faith to God, to go on with his role as a dedicated and humble public servant.

In behalf of the Santa Maria de Pila Association of Northern California, iyawatko iti naimpusuan a panagyamanko iti panangawisyo nga umay kumablaaw, umiliw, umabrasa ken makidanggay babaen daytoy pannaka-inagurar ken panakabendisyon of the Welcome Arc and for having us participated one of the highlights of our Town Fiesta through this Balikbayan gathering tonight.

Dios ti agngina kadakayo amin. Maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat. Thank you very much for the pleasure of meeting everyone, for the warm hospitality, for rekindling old friendships and for the memories that I will bring home to California. God bless!

Reynaldo T. Arquero


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Site Updated: Apr 29, 2007