Maurag na Bacacayano

He never refused anyone who needs his assistance on any matter. He always puts at ease every people he encounters with his endless store of jokes and stories. He is an engaging and accommodating person. In fact, most people who know him usually never forget his cheerfulness and loquaciousness.

He is Vicente P. Ballatan, a proud employee of the Local Government Unit of Bacacay for 24 years. He is also a loving father of five children and an affectionate husband.

Vic, as he is fondly called by most of his friends and colleagues came from a family of peasant origin. His father was a fisherman and his mother was a mat maker. He is the 4th child in a brood of seven. They lived in the far-flung barangay of Langaton, a part of the Cagraray Islands of Bacacay, Albay in the Bicol Region.

The Early Years

As a child, Vic would help his father in fishing. He would also assist his mother in loading the finished mats into the boats that would transport it into the mainland. As a running joke, he would tell that lifting the heavy rolls of mats was the reason that he became stout.

At an early age, he has learned diligence and perseverance in order to become educated. At the time, their island barangay does not have a public elementary school yet. The only public school was in another barangay and he and his siblings have to walk several kilometers, cross small mountains in order to attend school.

When it was time for his high school education, he was taken to mainland Bacacay to attend Zamora Memorial Institute. He stayed with his aunt, his father’s sister, and her family. In return for his board and lodging, he helped with daily chores and his aunt’s sari-sari store. Further, his father always brings bundles of firewood to his sister’s house.

During these years, it awakened in Vic the glaring truth that they are very poor folk with no hope of ever achieving more. He was aware that most probably when he finishes high school, he would then return to the islands in order to start becoming a fisherman or a farmer.  But he knows in his heart that he craves for more – he wanted a college education and become a professional.

Thus, right after he finished high school, without saying good-bye to his parents, he journeyed to the city of Manila to find his fortunes.

Struggles and Successes

In Manila, Vic became right at home. He lived with his eldest sister who is a seamstress in Binondo, Manila. He worked in several odd jobs – even as an assistant in a funeral parlor. His goal is to earn enough for a college education.

During the early 1970’s he was already working as a bus conductor in California Bus Lines and enrolled in a Business Administration course in the University of the East. From bus conductor, he became a bus driver, office staff and later on the Legal Supervisor in the Legal Services Department of the company.

However, graduating from college became an elusive dream for Vic. He stopped schooling several times in order to help his younger siblings’ college education and later, his nieces and nephews, until he was unable to return and had to forego his dream of having a college diploma. He was one year short of finishing college.

In 1976, he met and fell in love with Olivia, a beautician, who became his wife in January 22, 1978. They settled to married life and were blessed with two kids.

Back to Bicol

During the tumultuous years of the 1980’s, California Bus Lines was forced to shut down because of repeated workers’ strikes. Vic lost his job and was forced to accept the fact that it was time for him and his family to return to Bicol. It was a good thing that while life was good in Manila, he bought a parcel of land in the poblacion area of Mainland Bacacay.

Vic and Olivia were soon blessed with three more kids.

In Bacacay, Vic met the late Atty. Alberto Lawenko who was then running for Municipal Mayor. The two became fast friends and Atty. Lawenko came to trust in Vic’s decisions and judgments. When he won the elections, Vic became his private secretary.

Later on, Mayor Lawenko created a new permanent position, tailored especially for Vic. And so Vic went on to become a public servant even as Mayor Lawenko was never reelected anymore in the preceding years.

A Faithful and Engaging Public Servant

His item was Clerk III in the Office of the Mayor, but he was designated as Municipal Librarian by 1992. It was a job he enjoyed and took seriously. Being fond of reading books he never tires of assisting students who venture into the Municipal Library to study, research and read. He would always make sure that he gets book provisions from the National Library in order to update his inventory. He always browses the library books to find which books would help his patrons.

During the 2010 elections, a new administration was seated in the LGU and Vic was designated back in the Mayor’s Office because the new Mayor, Hon. Tobias Betito has great respect and admiration of Vic’s capability and trustworthiness. Although saddened with leaving his post in the Municipal Library, which he nurtured for 18 years, he willingly moved back to tackle bigger responsibilities and tasks in the Mayor’s Office.

In the final year of his public service, he was designated as Human Resource Officer. It was a job requiring diplomacy and discretion. Vic did his best. Even staying nights in the office to finish paperwork and have meetings with the Municipal Administrator, who also have great trust in him.

Now a Retiree

Vic retired from government service when he turned 65 in May 2012. He now spends his days in his house tending to the gardens and doing repairs around the house.

He did not become a rich businessman. He did not even become a rich employee. His pension was spent paying off debts accumulated because of constant financial struggles to keep up with his kids’ education. But his life is full of rich experiences and he is rich in terms of friends and colleagues, who misses his funny and enthusiastic ways that encourage them into doing their best as he does.

He did not become rich but he provided well for his family. He instilled a principle of good public service and never wavered in his belief in good governance.

He is not perfect but he is a maurag na Bacacayano in every way! ###

Feature Writing exercise in the Training on Online Content Writing, spearheaded by DILG held at Tanchuling Hotel





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