By Gertrude Peralta Shaw
Vicente L. Peralta, was Congressman for the 2nd District of Sorsogon, Sorsogon, representing that province for almost 16 years, when, a heart attack at the age of 54, shortened his life and the impressive representation he gave that small province.
Vicente, or “Enteng” as his constituents fondly called him, served the province of Sorsogon with such fervor and dedication, that after his death, the street on which he built his first home was named after him. Unsatisfied with just his name on a street corner, a gift of a life-like statue in his image to stand as a magnificent symbol of a man who championed the cause of the poor, was erected on the municipality’s plaza. Here, the statue of a man known for his stature as the “champion of the poor” stood guard.
Since 1968, the Municipality of Cumadcad, Sorsogon served as home for this impressive statue of “Enteng”, a fitting tribute to his hard work and dedication to the people he served. Towering over a concrete platform and overlooking the municipality’s plaza, Enteng’s statue was an artful impression of the man – as large in death as he was in life – the man who fought for the impoverished, and the displaced; for justice and equality. The statue that towered over the plaza was an exact replica of the man who stood many times on its municipal streets and walkways, serving the people he loved and for whose causes he fought so eloquently and loudly for.
This statue seemed to memorialize the many bills he championed on the House Floor and fought to enact as rule of law. It was a fitting tribute to a man with such a colorful career. A man who fought and enacted into law such impressive bills that impacted the Philippines’ national economy, civil service, army and veterans interests, education and labor. He authored and enacted into law, Republic Act 2260, Revised Civil Service Law of 1959 and the Magna Carta of Philippine Civil Service, one of the most sweeping civil service bills expanding the retirement privileges of government employees, liberalizing leave privileges and allowing numerous benefits to civil service employees. He was awarded the Diploma of Honor for his sponsorship of House Bill no. 7433 (Republic Act 1616) liberalizing the Retirement Law.
Additionally, “Enteng” was consistently named one of “Ten Most Outstanding, Useful, and Industrious Solons” year after year by the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines, the National and Congressional Press Clubs and other associations, gracing the covers of such prestigious Philippine magazines as the Free Press. He was awarded over 54 awards, certifications of merit, and citations from various civic groups, political action groups and the press.
Since his death in 1968, no one has risen from any rank to take his place in both intellectual stature or oratorical excellence -“Enteng” was alone in that box. He represented Sorsogon with such oratorical fervor and passion on the House debating floor, that to this day, Sorsogon or the Philippines has been hard pressed to duplicate his parliamentary prowess. Even the late Ferdinand Marcos fell short when it came to a debate with “Enteng”. Yes, Vicente L. Peralta was as unique as they came – mayors and congressmen and governors have come and gone through the halls of Congress, the municipal corridors and the governor’s mansion but no one has still been able to fill the void he has left in those august halls.
But where is VICENTE L. PERALTA?
Last I was in the Philippines, I stood next to the statue and memorial to him in Cumadcad, with my two year old son, bravely seated on the memorial’s cement bank. I proudly took his picture so when he became the lawyer he was to become, he would be as proud to hold up that picture of his grandfather, so fittingly memorialized and towering over a municipal plaza where the Sorsogon highway intersected. I stood there awed by the statue that so fittingly honored this man who so selflessly served his province and nation. I stood there as proud and grateful as any child could be of a father who not only fought for the poor but put Sorsogon on the map with his intelligence, his eloquence, and his integrity, dedication and statesmanship. And to see his accomplishments enshrined in that statue was to me, as fitting a tribute as the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC was to a man whose life was just as cut short as my father’s.
So where is VICENTE L. PERALTA?
Apparently his statue has been moved for unknown reasons from the Cumadcad Plaza, which hosted his statue for so long, to an obscure back street municipal hospital where his statue has somehow been transformed into a Walt Disney- like character straight out of a Walt Disney cartoon.
Here stands a statue in a silly blue suit with glasses guarding the front of the Vicente L. Peralta Memorial Hospital in Cumadcad surrounded by grass and weeds that have been left unmanicured which blurs the eloquence, political stature and accomplishments of Sorsogon’s most illustrious son. Vicente L. Peralta deservingly memorialized in bronze is now nowhere to be found. In his stead, stands this poorly executed plaster of a man standing in front of the municipal hospital that Vicente Peralta helped fund and build, and which now bears his name. And it forces me to ask the question – is this how we honor those who so selflessly and so honestly serve their country and their constituents? Is this how we treat Enteng who has only brought honor to the people he served? Is this how we show gratitude for the prestige he has brought to the people of Sorsogon?
For where Vicente L. Peralta SHOULD be, aside from the hearts and minds of the people of Sorsogon, should be back in that Cumadcad Municipal Plaza, enshrined in bronze and given a place of honor that only the likes of him deserve. He should not be dressed in a blue suit with a pair of Mickey Mouse glasses that he never in his life wore. He should be memorialized and enshrined in bronze or stone and immortalized in the very heart of Sorsogon watching over the very people he worked so hard to protect and defend. He should have streets or government buildings or highways in Sorsogon named after him, for, since his death, no one has been able to replicate what “Enteng” achieved, nor has anyone emerged from Sorsogon that has brought so much honor to that province with the likes of his intellect, eloquence, selfless dedication and integrity.
To the person or persons who are responsible for diminishing the legacy “Enteng” has left the people of Sorsogon and the country as a whole – can you tell me where Vicente Peralta is?
At least tell me he will be returned to the place and stature he rightly deserves.
- Remembering a Great Solon (sorsogoncity.wordpress.com)
- Who is Vicente L. Peralta? (sorsogoncity.wordpress.com)