Elem. classmates eager to meet Pres. Duterte after more than 6-decades

Published: Sunday, May 10, 2015
Via | Duterte2016

AFTER MORE THAN 6 DECADES Elementary classmates eager to meet Duterte

Classmates of Mayor Rody Duterte during his early elementary school days in Laboon, Maasin, Leyte (from Left to right) Constancia Magadan-Ortega, Paterno Jacobe, Leonila Faelnar and Magdalena Antoc-Francisca. (CHITO A. FUENTES)

MAASIN CITY – They did not see this coming – the possibility that their elementary school classmate might yet become the next president of the Philippines.

The four of them – Constancia Magaran-Ortega, Magdalena Antoc-Francisco, Leonila Faelnar and Paterno Jacobe – graciously agreed to be interviewed together a day before their now famous classmate, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, was slated to arrive in Maasin City.

Duterte, the rising political star of Mindanao who is being pressured to run for the highest office in the land, is the guest of honor of the 4th Roa Clan reunion in Barangay Laboon, Maasin.

The mayor’s mother, Soledad, a school teacher, belongs to the Roa clan which forms the majority of the residents today in Barangay Laboon.

The four of them admit they have very faint recollections of the mayor who went to school with them more than six decades ago.

“What I remember is that we had a classmate named Rodrigo who moved to Davao and whose mother was a teacher and a Roa,” Ortega said.

Ortega went on to become class valedictorian of the second batch of graduates that Laboon Elementary School would produce.

Jacobe said he remembered a classmate they called “Digoy” but that was all there was to it.
“Only now when I see his face in the news,” Jacobe answered when asked if he remembered how the mayor looked like then.

Aside from the four of them, there are two other surviving classmates: Roberto Espere who is now based in Manila and Fiipinas Leonor Tagra who is already bed-ridden.

According to their recollections, Duterte studied in Laboon for two years at the most. The mayor would graduate at the Sta. Ana Elementary School in Davao City.

Mayor Rodrigo Duterte's batch mates pose for their graduation picture with the old Laboon Elementary School building in the background. He is not in the picture because he graduated at the Sta. Ana Elementary School in Davao City. This building has since been demolished and in its spot now rises the school flag pole. (CHITO A. FUENTES)

They have heard about his exploits as mayor of the country’s biggest city but it was only very recently that they found out that it was their former classmate.

“It was only when we were told that Mayor Duterte would visit Laboon where he studied for a couple of years when we knew he was our classmate,” added Faelnar.

Jacobe, who drives a tricycle, said he likes what he hears about Duterte.

“Gitambalan ang mga pi-ang,” he commented in Cebuano, an expression that can be loosely translated as dealing with the bothersome elements in society.

What would they tell Duterte when they have the chance to meet him personally even if only for a few minutes?

“Ask him what he can do for our school,” Ortega replied.

The old wooden building where they went to school then has since been demolished. In its place now rises the flag pole at the center of the school ground.

At the time they were interviewed, Ortega was with a group of women who were cleaning the school grounds in preparation for the alumni homecoming.

The four were like swooning kids when talk shifted to the possibility of Duterte becoming the next president.

“Of course, it feels very good,” they chorused, pointing that only very few have the privilege to have a presidential timber for a classmate.

What do they think of him as president?

“If he runs the country the way he did in Davao, very good!” declared Jacobe.

The three ladies agreed, pointing to the fact that Davao under Duterte has become the safest city in the country.

Duterte’s classmates are not asking anything particular for themselves.

“For as long as he will run the country well, that’s enough,” replied Francisco, the eldest among the group.

Like them, Duterte has always pointed out that it is no longer about the present but the future of the country that is at stake.

Their teachers must have taught them well when they were young. (CHITO A. FUENTES)


Presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte, who was born in Maasin, returns home Tuesday, March 22, 2016. His homecoming was welcomed by the warmth of the residents who were just as happy to express their support for the presidential bid of Maasin's proud son.

"How can we say no to him?" said Gov. Roger Mercado. "We will pray that you will become the next president of the country."


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