Farewell Dongkoy

OPINION
May 11, 2019

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Charlotte, North Carolina---The political landscape in Cagayan de Oro City and the province of Misamis Oriental will never be the same again with the demise of former governor and mayor Vicente “Dongkoy” Yap Emano or VYE on midnight last Tuesday, May 7.

As founder of Padayon Pilipino, Emano led a colorful political life and career that spanned decades and he popularized the use of colors to identify himself, his allies and followers.

Mention the color violet in Cagayan de Oro or anywhere in Misamis Oriental and people will associate it with Emano.  He was ahead of his time and his contemporaries.

As a media practitioner who followed Emano’s rise to power I had to look up and read the book of Italian philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli from time to time as reference point to fully appreciate how Emano operated as both politician and public official.

If you are allied with him, Emano would be loyal to you all the way at all cost.  How could such loyalty not invite and inspire corresponding loyalty from people such as Felix of Nabulod, Tagoloan who sells fish everyday?

Politics 24/7
At one time Emano, then mayor of my hometown of Tagoloan, bought all of Felix’s fish and talked to him, telling him about his plans for Tagoloan.  Emano made people feel good about themselves.

In fact, I think he may be among if not the greatest politicians Tagoloan had every produced. Emano mastered local politics and some of his closest and erstwhile allies including the late lawyer Fred Gapuz confirmed that Emano ate, drank, slept and talked politics 24/7.

A fellow Tagoloanon, Emano soon endeared himself to  the hearts of many residents of Misamis Oriental including Cagayan de Oro City especially the vulnerable masses.

We both graduated from the same elementary and high schools. We breathed the same air from the mountain of Malaiba and soaked in the cold waters of Tagoloan river at different times in our lives.

Yes,our lives crossed paths in the course of our work and I think we did great. I might be his number critic during the course of his political career and saw how he worked the many pawns he used to advance his agenda.

Political opponent
But he was a fellow Tagoloanon and like any townmate was amazed at how he came so far in his public service. As I would always say during my radio and TV broadcasts “walang personalan, trabaho lang (nothing personal, just work).”

During my media career I was told by some of Emano’s people who happened to be my friends that he, also dubbed “Alas” by those within the Padayon Pilipino circle, was mad at me.

In some press conferences we did cross paths and no words were exchanged but I can see and feel the icy stares he would cast my way and I must admit it can be unnerving at times.

That said I still persisted in my work.  Just a throwback; Emano was elected mayor of Tagoloan town at the time I worked at the 6th Municipal Circuit Court of Tagoloan-Villanueva Misamis Oriental branch.

I later learned to my surprise that Emano helped in the appointment of his political opponent the late Judge Arteo Valdehueza to the judiciary.

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Though the courts are under the Supreme Court yet we coordinated and supported the local government in all its activities including the weekly flag raising ceremony.

Even then I observed the mayor up close.  I must admit Emano can be fun to see engaging people in conversation and Tagoloan had by that time grabbed the attention of local mainstream media because of his rising political star.

Our office is outside the Municipio or town and in fact people at the town hall can look down at the Court house or vice versa. At the time I saw a steady stream of visitors like lawyers, bankers and local media visiting Emano’s office everyday.

The mayor’s office in Tagoloan is where I met media practitioners in Cagayan de Oro like Bill Henson, Vincent Quinga and Sandy Bas and Rudy Ladso as well as Ben Emata and Noli Olarte.

Dongkoy or Alas’s parents and siblings belonged to the upper class in Tagoloan.  I knew that he was in Class ’59 of St. Mary’s High School and I knew most of his classmates.

Political future
Emano’s classmates were either my teachers like Ray Abejo and Nora Lim or my neighbor like Sylvia Gaccion or my aunt Thelma Casiño or former regional director Arlene Bibanco-Pantanosas of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR),Lamberte Yap,to name a few.

Emano graduated from Tagoloan Central School and was a classmate of my maternal uncle Dorico Espellarga. My Tio Decoy told me once he called Dongkoy” Inteng Botikol”.

Even as I observed him from afar, I sensed that Emano prepared for his political future. The mayoral seat in Tagoloan town was only the beginning and he eyed the gubernatorial seat of Misamis Oriental.

When I transferred to a city court, Emano was appointed governor of the province. We met when I started reporting for Gold Star Daily. Maybe he saw my banner stories and asked about me to see if I worked in the judiciary before.

We were reconnected again and it was as if he knew me for a long time. I left GSD and was now with RMN dxCC where I would always get a call from the governor’s office.

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What happened next I would write in the days to come. There is a lot to tell. The narrative is long and rich, spanning his journey to Cagayan de Oro City hall and me heading to COC TV.

And in between somehow our lives intertwined over the course of our respective destinies.  In the meantime let us give the Emano family time to grieve for their loss.

Emano’s ashes were scheduled to be brought to the Sta. Maria Catholic Church this Saturday May 11.  I sincerely pray for the eternal repose of the soul of the distinguished man that Tagoloan produced.

I grieve for all his charm, his brilliance and for all his outstanding triumphs that made Tagoloan as great as the sons and daughters it had produced.
Farewell and rest in peace, Alas.

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