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MR. GOOD GOVERNMENT: A BIOGRAPHY OF MELANIO T.


SINGSON
BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The research studies the life that Melanio T. Singson hadlived. Through the aid
of various sources a narrative of his life is reconstructed. The researcher intends to
undertake the study of Melanio T. Singsons life for the reason that unlike his
contemporaries, very little is written about him despite the fact that during his time he
was a prominent figure in Isabela not only as a politician but as a practicing lawyer as
well. This research is also done in order to immortalize his legacy as a political figure in
the province of Isabela. This research is also pursued in connection to the researchers
interest inhis family and locality.
The research highlights and describes crucial events from his life and included
the time when he was born up to his eventual death. The data gathered is presented
chronologically, following a linear pattern that is most common among biographical
works. The biography appears as transitions, and phases or turning points, meaning
stages such as childhood, education, work/career and retirement; a process that is
characterized by a sequence of events(Torres & Antikainen, 2003: 1).
This research is not merely be a biography; rather certain events from his life are
related to local political history. In addition, through the biography of Melanio T.
Singson, we are able to unravel new dimensions and perspectives within Isabelas
political historythat are presently not available. Essentially, the research is achronicle of
Melanio Singsons life and also of his achievements as a politician. It includes his
origins, education, married life, career as a politician, retirement and demise. The
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research also looks into his policies and legislations, which he wereable to pass during
his career as a government official, and consequently their effects on the province of
Isabela. This is done with the purpose of addressing the gaps of history, where very little
is written about the province. The study then appearsas a local history of the province.
In terms of its structure, narratives, accounts and facts are arranged
chronologically.
The research madeuse of both primary and secondary sources that pertain to the
subject matter and that would likewise establish historically relevant aspects. Sources
includebooks and articles relevant to the subject matter, and oral sources derived from
interviews. In order to ensure that the gathered sources are worth using, they are
subjectedto tests to determine its validity and credibility.
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STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The research narrates the life of Melanio T. Singson focusing largely on his
political career and accomplishments. It addresses the following questions with regard to
his political life:
How is Melanio T. Singson significant in the political history of the province of
Isabela?
1. As a politician, what are the policies and/or resolutions that Melanio T. Singson
passedduring his tenure?
2. Aside from politics, what are his other involvements that are socially and
politically significant?
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RESEARCH OBJECTIVES
The research aims to:
1. Account and describe the life that Melanio T. Singsonlived with a large emphasis
on his political life and significance to the political history of Isabela.
2. Identify policies and or resolutions passed by Melanio T. Singson.
3. Identify his other involvements that have political significance to the province.
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SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The life of Melanio T. Singson is closely intertwined with the kind of politics
Isabela had during his time. Thus, it is inevitable to tackle the political history of the
province. In doing so, the research identified particular turning-points in his life and
likewise to look at his impact and significance to the province of Isabela vis--vis his
accomplishments as a public servant. This study is pioneering for the reason that very
little or none at all is written about the provinces political history nor about the life that
Melanio T. Singson has lived. Also, the research is done to make an original contribution
to the study of history such that the study will try tounravel other dimensions of history,
by looking at local history with reference to an individualslife.
Local history would provide a venue for a record of a meaningful past and would
constitute a reservoir of data from local data and memories of events and realities (Tan,
1998: 23). Likewise, local history can provide a perspective that would come from a
localizedand community based point of view (Tan, 1998:23). The study is significant in
addressing the so-called imbalance in history. The nature by which our national history
is written is Manila-centric and is focused on national political history and as a result, it
has gaps and omissions that concern local history (Apilado, 1999: 93).
By pursuing the research, the researcher is able to give the man a voice which
remains unheard and likewise to make his story be known to the generations of
Isabelinos. Biography is after all done to give notice to those who may otherwise not be
allowed to tell their story or who are denied a voice to speak (Bertaux as cited in
Denzin, 1989: 82). In addition to this, the research also dwelt on peoples
reactions/comment/assessment to his performance as a public servant and whether he was
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responsive to the needs of his people. Moreover, it also includedthe issues he confronted
not only as a politician but also as an ordinary man.
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SCOPE AND LIMITATION
The study only covers crucial events inthe life of Melanio T. Singson. The time
frame encompassed the years from 1914, when he was born, to 1992 when he died.
Primary and secondary sources are usedsuch as documents, newspaper clippings, articles
and other available printed sources. In addition, the researcher utilized key-informant
interview. Respondents are members of his family, friends, peers, and colleagues. In
additionto this, public documents such as birth certificate, death certificate, and marriage
certificate are also used, in order to ensure the validity of dates. Laws, bills and
resolutions passed by the subject during his tenure as a public servant are to be utilized as
sources of data with regard to the political aspect of the subjects life. Due to the scarcity
of written sources with regard to the history of Isabela, the researcher utilized electronic
sources.
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CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK
Related literature in constructing biographies include a discussion of three
important themes. First, works of Norman Denzin in Interpretative Biography and W.S.
Lewis The Difficult Art of Biography are looked at in the construction and definition of
biography. Second, for the importance of biography as a field of inquiry, works such as
that of Teodoro Agoncillos Imagination in History, B. DeVotos The Skeptical
Biographer, U. Apitzsch and I. Sioutis Biographical Analysis as an Interdisciplinary
Research Perspective in the Field of Migration Studies, C.A. Torres and A. Antikainens
The International Handbook on the Sociology of Education and Lois Banners Biography
as History are analyzed. Lastly, for the methodology involved in the construction of
biographies, articles of L. Edels The Subject Matter of Biography, Art of Biography of
Virginia Woolf, Teodoro Agoncillos Objectivity and Impartiality, B. Roberts
Biographical Research and I. Origos Biography True or False are studied. It is
important to discuss such themes for it served as an aid to theresearcher in thenecessary
information in writing and doing biographical research.
Biography according to Sir Harold Nicolson is the history of the lives of
individual men as a branch of history (Lewis in Davenport & Siegel, 1965: 60). It is
history for the reason that it must accurately describe a person in relation to his times
(Lewis in Davenport & Siegel, 1965: 60). Likewise, it is or should be a completion of
life, giving a shape and significance to the humblest, most pedestrian existence, as every
individual life is the story of everyman (Origo in Lewis, 1965: 378). Given this, the
biographical method included the use and collection of life documents. It describes
turning-points in an individuals life from birth until death following a linear pattern
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(Plummer in Denzin, 1989:7). As such, a biography intends to use and collect life
documents, stories, accounts and narratives which depict important events in the
individuals life (Denzin, 1989.13).
There are two kinds of doing a biographical research, first is an autobiography,
life story or life history, which is written in the first person and second is a biography,
which is written by another person (Denzin. 1989: 9; 13). The research will undertake the
crafting of biography of Melanio T. Singson and at the same time the political history of
Isabela during that time.
Generally, a biography is a historical account of the important events of the lives
of an individual in relation to the general history of the locality. Specifically, in this
research, the author reconstructs the life of Melanio T. Singson and his importance and
relevance to the political history of Isabela during his time.
Why do we read biographies? According to Bernard de Voto, it is for the reason
to know the truth about its subject. In writing biographies on the other hand, a person
wants to know how this particular person was entangled with the world, what the
conditions of his life were, what they did to him, how he dealt with destiny, what he
overcame, what overcame him (De Voto in Lewis, 1965: 280). Biography is a complex
web of intricacies that demands facts, illusion is not needed- reality is wanted (De Voto
in Lewis, 1965: 280-281). In cases when facts and evidence are limited, the historian
results to historical imagination to fill in the gaps that are left out by the sources. With the
nature of biographical works where evidence can be meager at times, historical
imagination is necessary as long as it is permitted by the sources. Interpretation being an
aspect of imagination is relevant to the re-creation of the past (Agoncillo, 2001: 1-3).
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Through imagination and interpretation one is able to give life to history by completely
depicting what some of the sources and evidence did not mention. Celedonio Resureccion
also added that The student who desires to achieve must continually keep on reading and
reflecting, examining documents and philosophizing, reviewing and reinterpreting events.
For such is the substance of history-interpretation. That is why history is viewed in
different light by different periods; that is why history as interpretation is always
contemporary and subjective (Resurrecion, 2001: 15-16).
Historians see biography as inferior, for the reason that it only dwells on a
singular life; and that it is humanistic in approach rather than scientific or sociological
(Banner, 2009: 580). Liking biography to history, Banner mentioned that:
At its, best biography, like history, is based on archival research, interweaves
historical categories and methodologies, reflects current political and
theoretical concerns, and raises complex issues of truth and proof. It challenges
the analyst to move beyond easy platitudes in what Clifford Geertz famously
called thick description. Moreover, given the long tradition among
biographers to write accessible prose, biography challenges the historian to
produce lucid writing- not always the standard among academic scholars
(Banner:2009, 580).
In turn, history and biography share common traits such as both are rigorous tasks
which require sources that are needed to verify its accuracy and validity. Verification
requires various tools to examine documents such as triangulation, internal and external
criticism, and the like. Biography and history are not mere narrations; rather, imagination
and creativity are needed in writing so as to entice readers and so as not too, appear
merely writing and stating facts or events that have occurred in the past. Historical
imagination is needed, to write history is make your readers feel in touch with the events,
to make these things come to life through text.
Also by studying an individuals life, one might study the story of a particular
place as a way of understanding social and cultural phenomena (Banner, 2009: 582).
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Through construction of the life of an individual, linking the individual to society and
institution, and likewise analyze these in the socio-cultural context of biography becomes
possible. This is so because part of the purpose of a biographical analysis is not only the
reconstruction of intentionality, which is represented as an individuals life course, but
the embeddedness of the biographical account in social macro structures (in Apitzch &
Siouti, 2007:7). With this, it is evident that in the reconstruction of the life of an
individual, it is not only the important events in his life that are narrated but also the
context that the individual is embedded in.
Historians and biographers both dwell in investigation and seek confluences and
patterns. Like history, doing biography deals with temporal clusters which move along
time and space. In terms of doing a biographical work, one proves and disproves and
employ various tools and methods of investigation to unearth facts and truths.
No less than historians in general, biographers are detectives and interpreters,
attempting to illuminate the past and to interweave its threads in new and
compelling patterns. A life deeply lived, like any complex historical narrative,
moves across, space, time and areas of human involvement both capriciously
and predictably, validating certain accepted historical constructions while
challenging others. Understanding a life may require that a biographer retrain in
new kinds of historical investigation such as oral history- to interview friends,
relatives, and associates of the biographical subject- or psychohistory- to probe
underlying motivations (Banner: 2009: 582).
New biographies, particularly the life-cycletheory deals with the existence of
life stages which one passes through that is determined by aging and culture (Banner,
2009: 581). Likewise it also emphasizes the power of culture where it has the ability to
shape an individuals personality. Personalities are scripted by culture wherein
individuals can internalize the role or rebel against it, which therefore leads us to say that
the self is a text while the larger culture is the context. Both influence the other as the
individual can also influence culture and likewise the development of history (Banner:
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2009, 581-582). These new biographies can be used to depict the overall political
landscape or the culture of politics during the time of Melanio T. Singson.
In addition, it is also important to note that biographical research is relevant
because it is one of the primary methods in making the voices of those previously
unheard, heard. This is because biographical research is characterized to provide the
silenced with a voice (Torres & Antikainen, 2003:4). The most prominent study
concerning biographical research was conducted by the Chicago School which utilized a
variety of methods such as observation, personal documents and informal interviews
(Torres & Antikainen, 2003:4), which was pioneered by Thomas and Znaniecki in their
study The Polish Peasant. Life history as a study offers insights of individual lives that
reveal new perspectives on the culture as a whole which are not accessible (Torres &
Antikainen, 2003:4). With this, through the construction of the biography of Melanio T.
Singson, the life and story of an important figure of the history of Isabela is given light,
linked and embedded into the history of Isabela.
In relation to its methodology, several issues are also faced in constructing a
biography. Biographical research or the study of lives has been accepted as a field of
inquiry in history as the said field experienced a paradigm shift from largely being
positivist towards the Annales school of thought. Although this is the case, in terms of
reliability and validity biographical research has been alleged as inadequate. Questions
arise with regard to the adequacy or quality of accounts or, putting it rather differently,
how far life story research should follow the methodological standards of quantitative
research or apply its own qualitative principles (Roberts, 2002:6). The researcher must
set down everything he can find out (Origo in Lewis, 1965: 370). This means that in
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doing biographical research, the reliability of the data presented often relies on the
objectivity of the researcher.
Objectivity in history is quite problematic, most especially in doing biographical
research. Since this research reconstructedthe biography of the authors grandfather, it is
important to look at how objectivity may be achieved in doing research in history.
According to Agoncillo, history is not objective due to mans nature. Given
his/her prejudice, bias, desires, passions and emotions that may taint historical writing.
Instead, impartiality should be used by historians. According to Agoncillo impartiality is
hard to achieve namely because of (a) prejudices vary from person to person and (b)
factors, such as personal relationship, moral sensibilities, and the like, exert a strong
influenceon the historian such as his desire to be fair is overwhelmed and is replaced by
what I may call historical blindness (Agoncillo, 2001: 41). Therefore, impartiality may
be obtained by the study of multiple aspects of a certain historical source or subject and
the careful evaluation of it. Impartiality may aid a historian in terms of writing and
interpreting, wherein by virtue of impartiality and critical thinking aided with the
judicious use of data and cross-referencing; one may obtain historical truths from sources
that are questionable (Agoncillo, 2001: 41). Included in this, doing a, biography
demands study, accuracy, insight and artistry as biographys power and responsibility are
immense (Lewis in Davenport & Siegel, 1965: 65). Like history, the process by which
we construct biographies requires validity and accuracy of data gathered and the research
itself. In writing biographies, the biographer may be as imaginative as he pleases, on
the other hand his sources or references should not be imagined (Edel in Davenport &
Siegel, 1965: 117). The biographer must also study his sources, and judge them if they
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are valid and credible (Edel in Davenport & Siegel, 1965: 117). In writing a biography,
one must take note that he is not writing the life of his subject, rather he is rewriting it
(Edel in Davenport & Siegel, 1965: 117). The biographer has the ability to select and
relate when it comes to sources, also he must strictly keep himself in the world of facts,
which are subject to the processes of authentication and verification (Woolf in Lewis,
1965: 167). Biography entails fact finding that requires accuracy (De Voto in Lewis,
1965: 288). Facts that are in the biography are not merely subject to the biographer but
are to be verified also by others. According to Virginia Woolf these facts are not like the
facts of science, they are subject to changes of opinion; opinions change as the times
change. Moreover, it utilizes various streams of sources and investigative methods such
as:
Certificates of birth and death, genealogies, photostats of deeds, letters-letters filled with rationalizations and
subterfuges, exaggerations, wishful thinking, deliberate falsehoods, elaborate politenesses- and then,
testimonials photographs, manuscripts, diaries, notebooks, bank checks, newspaper clippings (Edel in
Davenport, 1965: 123).
Therefore, to ensure that there is impartiality in constructing a biography, the historian
needs to have a critical mind especially when faced with the information that sources
might present. According to Roberts, meanings given to the social world by individuals
require rather different criteria, truth and other related epistemological issues can be seen
in ways that go beyond the standardized notions of reliability, validity and
generalizability (2002: 6). As alternatives, writers have utilized other forms of
measurement such as authenticity, credibility, coherence and the like (Roberts, 2002: 6).
A biographer must doubt everything; he must scrutinize his data and conclusions and
subject them to analysis and verification so as to reveal flaws and gaps (De Voto in
Lewis, 1965: 290). The biographer does not need to dramatize the research rather, his
only goal is to discover evidence and analyze them (De Voto in Lewis, 1965: 290).
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Aside from impartiality, it is also important to look at issues concerned with the
reliability of interviews. In conducting interviews, Silverman warned that in
contemporary studies, the experience or experiential is romanticized as the truth/authentic
(Roberts, 2002:6). In addition, Silverman said that interviews should be regarded as part
of the explanation and not as the one to be relied upon (Roberts, 2002:6). This means that
the researcher should not only be critical of what the interviewee presents but also look at
the information and cross check and validate this with other interviews and other sources.
Given what these related literatures aresaying with regard to the methodology in
constructing a biography, the researcher employed such methods. In terms of data
collection, the researcher utilized various sources primarily printed sources that give vital
information on the subject. These sources come in the form of newspaper and magazine
clippings, articles, transcription of campaign bulletins, public and public documents,
reports, familydocuments, personal sources, and the like.
In addition, the researcher also employed key-informant interview technique.
This technique is necessary for the reason it serves as a supplement to the printed sources.
Moreover, insights such as personal recollections and the like that are not found in other
materials can be extracted. Through key-informant interview, the researcher can collect
first hand information from Melanio T. Singsons family and constituents of Isabela
when hewas a public servant. The researcher conducted a face-to-face interview and/or
phone interview.
Participants of the research are purposively selected, and derived from Melanio
T. Singsons family, relatives, friends and associates in the past. This is done so as to
ensure that the events from not only his political life but his personal life as well may be
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most accurate. Questions and inquiries focuses on the subjects personal life and long
term legacy to the people of Isabela. Research sites are likewise purposively selected;
interviews are conducted at the comfort of the participants homes; several measures are
also undertaken so as to not disrupt or intrude on the physical setting and the participants
activities. An informed consent form is presentedto prospective participants to read and
signed before they participate with the research. This assures the participants rights are be
protected during the process of data collection (Creswell: 2009, 89). This research
technique is necessary so as to ask in-depth questions with regard to the subject matter.
Ethical issues such as the researchers role to protect the privacy of the
participants are taken into consideration in the research (Creswell: 2009, 87). It is the
researchers responsibility to promotethe integrity of the study and to safeguard against
misconduct (Creswell: 2009, 87). Participants were also given the right to retain
ownership of their voices. In order for them to have the freedom to exercise
independence in making decisions, they were also informed of the risks of non-
confidentiality where their names might be included in the reports of the study (Creswell:
2009, 90). The purpose of the study and the true nature and intention of the study were
fully disclosed to the participants.
Multiple data collection procedures were employed in the study. As mentioned
earlier the researcher made use of key-informant interviews, either face-to- face or
interviews by phone. This is beneficial for the research for the reason that it allowed the
researcher to have control over the process of inquiry and also to directly observe the
participants actions (Creswell, 2009: 179). Interviews are unstructured or semi-structured
using previously constructed questions. Questions appeared as open-ended, with the
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purpose of eliciting opinions and views from the participants (Creswell, 2009: 181). By
doing open-ended questions, the researcher was therefore able to elicit opinions and
insights from participants that served as basis for further inquiry and also made the
conversation friendly and nonthreatening (Yin: 2003, 90). Interviews here appeared as
guided conversations rather than structured queries (Yin: 2003, 89). The manner which
the interview conducted seemed fluid but at the same time consistent in pursuing inquiry
(Yin: 2003, 89).
The gathered sources are subject to test and measures of credibility and
authenticity so as to make sure that the researcher was able to obtain accurate
information. All sources used in this researchare subjected to triangulation such that the
validity, authenticity and accuracy of the data are ensured. Patterns and themesinevitably
emergedfrom the information shared by the participants and those gathered fromprinted
sources.
The researcher collected qualitative documents such as newspaper clippings,
articles, public and private documents, surveys, reports and family documents that are
relevant to the research. This data collection method is deemed necessary as it is an
unobtrusive source and it is convenient for the researcher as he is able to access the
sources in any given time (Creswell, 2009: 180). It also eases the researchers job of
transcribing given that these sources are written or printed, thus saving time and expenses
(Creswell, 2009: 180). But, before consideringdocumentations such as those mentioned
above as sources, the researcher is wary of considering them as literal recordings of
events, as some may have been deliberatelyedited (Yin, 2003: 87). Audiovisual materials
such as photographs are used as possible sources. Like documents they are unobtrusive,
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accessible and can be interpreted. Data, once analyzed can be then kept for at least 3-5
years; beyond which the researcher can therefore discard.
Historical criticism is also employed, to further investigate the origins of the texts
and to arrive at the true nature of events. Data from the previously mentioned sources are
synthesized in such a way that they all point toward the same conclusions. Thick
description is also another method that is used, where detailed descriptions are made and
provide many perspectives about a theme, the results become more realistic and richer
(Creswall, 2009: 192).
Bias will inevitably come up in the research, for the reason that the researcher is
related to the subject of the study. Thus, biases are balanced through the use of the
sources gathered as mentioned above. Using these sources and data gathered,
triangulation is used for verification of information. Given this, the interpretation of the
subject is not solely from the researcher but is also derived from what the different
sources are saying.
With this, the biography of Melanio T. Singson does not aim to reconstruct the
general history of Isabela or the history of important figures of the province but rather to
show how this person lived his life as a particular figure in Isabela during his time.
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METHODOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK
Biography, as a genre and a research method, according to J anet Miller involves
not only gathering data about a specific individual, but also interpreting these data in
order to create a representation or portrayal of particular aspects of the subjects life and
times (Miller, 2008: 61). In relation to this, the research is in narrative form, whereas the
participants stories will be retold using structural devices; such as plot, activities and
denouement (Creswall, 2009: 176). Using these devices, the researcher came up with
the needed data in reconstructing the life of Melanio T. Singson. In addition, the research
attempts to be holistic whereas his political career and personal life are discussed. In
doing so, the life of Melanio T. Singson and his relevance to the political history of
Isabela is given light in this paper.
In reconstructing the life of Melanio T. Singson, as mentioned earlier, the
researcher used different print sources coupled with key-informant interviews. The use of
key-informant interviews as a form of oral history shed light to matters that written
history lacked.
Oral history according to J ulia Chaitin has been used as a way of passing down
memories of the past for centuries and of sharing memories across cultures, predating
written history (Chaitin, 2008: 583). It has been used as an alternative to more
conventional methods such as written history and also as a tool to gather first-hand
information and accounts from the past. Oral history is deemed necessary because it
enables people to share their stories in their own words, with their own voices, through
their own understanding of what happened and why (www.Baylor.edu, 2012: 2).
The use of oral history as a methodology makes use of open-ended questions
which are people- and experience-centric. Given this, the flow of the conversation
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depends or is directed by the interviewee, which can yield to further information and
insights on the topic. With this method, the researcher can elicit memories and
experiences from the interviewee (Chaitin, 2008: 584) that can further make the research
more meaningful and insightful. Oral history being subjective, allows the interviewee to
participate in the construction of knowledge. Through oral history, the interviewee
possesses the ability to interpret and analyze their personal experiences through their
own points of view and in their own words (www.Baylor.edu, 2012: 2).
Oral history supplements and fills in the gaps of recorded history and it can
likewise provide voices to the unheard. Moreover, it gives further understanding of
history where it is experiencedand individualized. In addition, it can also tell us what has
changed and what has remained through time (www.Baylor.edu, 2012: 2).
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DATA PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS PLAN
The data presented in the research is constructed and periodized following the
linear model of biography and likewise following the life course-stages of Norman
Denzin which is divided into four temporal clusters, namely: childhood, adolescence,
early adulthood, and old age. Modifications may be made in the clustering of events as
the need arises.
The research is in narrative form, whereas the participants stories are retold using
structural devices; such as plot, activities and denouement (Creswall, 2009: 176). It
employed interpretive inquiry in interpreting what the researcher heard and understood
(Creswall, 2009: 176). In addition, the research aimsto be holistic where factors that play
a part in a particular situation are identified and thoroughly investigated so as to better
understand the larger picture at hand.
The research uncovers the social, economic, cultural, structural, and historical
forces that shape, distant and otherwise alter problematic lived experiences (Bertaux in
Denzin, 1989: 4). Also, it addresses the dynamics of history and biography, particularly
identity and internalization. In addition, it also purports to look into the structural
processes that shaped the subject and identified the unique and general features of life
and extract meanings from it.
Time-series analysis is also used so as to show in chronology the course of events.
Time-series analysis can also be used particularly in addressing the proposition of a law,
such as the case of this research which will try to identify the effects of the laws
legislated by Melanio T. Singson during his tenure as a lawmaker and politician. By
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employing such method, the patterns of events areunraveled. Trends and indicators are
brought to light and examined. The effectsof such laws to the provinceare also observed.
Chronology, a form of time-series analysis allows the researcher to trace events
over time (Yin: 2003, 125). The method can therefore yield important analytic purposes
such as the identification of cause and effect. Also, it can cover a broad range of variables
(Yin: 2003, 126). It can be richer and more insightful than general time-series
approaches (Yin: 2003, 126). The methods strength lies in answering how and
why questions about the relationship of events, that is not strictly limited to observing
time trends by itself (Yin: 2003, 126-127). In employing such method, the researcher is
aided in reading and interpreting the policies that Melanio T. Singson made and his
legacy in the said province as a public servant.
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THE PROVINCE OF ISABELA
GEOGRAPHY
Isabela is the second largest province in the country. It is situated in the
northeastern part of Luzonand bounded by the province of Cagayan in the north; Nueva
Vizcaya, Aurora and Quirino in the south; Kalinga, Apayao, Mt. Province and Ifugao in
the west; and the Pacific Ocean in the east. The province is considered as the Queen
Province of the North, due to its comparatively large land area and population. It is
comprised of 35 municipalities and 2 cities. Isabelas land area is 1,066,456 hectares
(10,664.56 sq. kilometers) which comprises 39.73 percent of Cagayan Valleys regional
territory (www.Isabela.ph).
The province is divided into three physiographical areas, namely: Eastern Isabela,
Coastal Isabela and Western Isabela. Eastern Isabela is characterized by heavily forested
areas and rugged terrain. This portion of the province contains a variety of wildlife and is
considered as the eighth in biodiversity in the world. Likewise, it is where the Sierra
Madre Mountain range is found which spans across the province from north to south
Coastal Isabela is notable for its coastline which spans 113 kilometers along the Pacific
Ocean. It is blessed with bountiful natural wonders such as islands, white sand beaches,
bays, caves, and rich fishing grounds. Western Isabela on the other hand is known for its
vast valley and flatlands for agriculture. It is situated at the foothills of the Sierra Madre
and Cordillera. Moreover, the area is divided by geophysical bodies such as smaller
valleys, plains, rivers, and rivulets. Among these, the Cagayan River is the most
noteworthy as it is the longest river in the country (www.Isabela.ph)
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HISTORY
In May 1, 1856 by virtue of a royal decree the Province of Isabela was created in
order to facilitate the evangelization in the region. The province was named after Queen
Isabela II of Spain (Isabela.ph).
However, settlement and colonization of the province began as early as 1596 or
31 years after Miguel de Legazpi established Spanish settlements in Cebu, when it was
still part of the provinces of Cagayan and Nueva Vizcaya (Borja, 1967: 19). Encomiendas
were established in Pilitan, a barrio in Ilagan and in Furao, a barrio of Gamu (Borja,
1967: 19). Some towns were established by Spanish friars such as Fr. Pedro de Sto.
Tomas who founded San Pablo and Fr. Pedro J imenez who founded Ilagan, Gamu, and
Itugud now known as Reina Mercedes (Borja, 1967:19). Some remnants of the Spanish
past still remain such as the Parish Church of St. Mathias (Tumauini) built in 1753, Our
Lady of Atocha Church (Alicia) built in 1805, San Pablo Church (San Pablo) built in
1624 and St. Rose de Lima Church (Gamu) built in 1726 (www.Flyphilippines.com).
The province is home to a multitude of cultures. Originally, the province was
inhabited by several ethnolinguistic groups such as the Ibanags, Gaddang,
Aetas/Dumagats, Irrayas and Kalingas. By the late 19
th
and 20
th
centuries, a wave of
immigration began which brought the Ilocanos from the north in huge numbers. As a
result, the Ilocanos are now presently the largest ethnic group of the province
(www.Flyphilippines.com).
Due toits geographic location, the revolt against Spain came late in the province.
The revolution only reached the province when Col. Daniel Tirona occupied certain
25
portions of the province and other parts of northeastern Luzon; hence, it finally became
under the control of the revolutionary government in August 1898(Borja, 1967:19).
In our recorded history the province is also known as the place where General
Emilio Aguinaldo was captured by the American forces led by General Frederick Funston
on May 23, 1901. His capture marked the end of the Philippine-American War.
A civil government was established in the province by virtue of Act, No. 210
passed on August 23, 1901. During the American occupation, schools and other buildings
were established. Likewise, reforms were instituted such as those that concerned the
political system (ww.Isabela.ph). The first elections in the province were held on
February 5, 1907 (Borja, 1967: 19).
The J apanese Imperial Forces occupied the province in 1942 shortly after the
country was laid under siege. The Second World War brought economic stagnation to the
province (ww.Isabela.ph). During the latter part of the war, it was by chance that the
J apanese who were digging tunnels stumbled upon archaeological artifacts in Ilagan
(Borja, 1967: 18). Artifacts found were stone axes, adzes, chisels and polished beads that
were of Early Neolithic Period (Borja, 196: 18).The liberation of Isabela came with the
arrival of the Philippine Commonwealth Troops and guerillas in 1945 (www.Isabela.ph).
26
EARLY LIFE
MelanioMel T. Singson was born in Vigan, Ilocos Sur on August 2, 1914. His
parents were Florencio Singson and Maurcia Tangco, both natives of Vigan. He was the
youngest among the four children. According to his daughter Aurora S. Tabangay, Mels
parents were industrious merchants who sold dry goods. Because of hard work, they were
able to raise four children and sendthem to school. Thethree became lawyers, including
Melanio, and one became a teacher. Melanio was orphaned at an early age. His father
died when he was four years old and his mother passed away when he was in fourth year
high school. In an interview, Mel stated that his mother was God-loving disciplinarian
with whom he prayed the bead every night without fail, but she was the greatest single
influence in his life- she etched in his heart a sense of honor and integrity that would be
his trademark as a politician and as a cabinet member (Flores, 1986).
He attendedelementary at ColegioSeminario in Vigan, Ilocos Sur; high school at
Ilocos Sur High School where he graduated as the salutatorian; U.P. J unior College in
Viganwhere he obtained his A.A. (Associate in Arts, a two year preparatory degree for
law); and U.P. College of Lawin Diliman.
In his days at UP J unior College he served as the editor-in-chief of the
NORLUZONIAN a college paper in the university (Borja, 1967: 20). While at the UP
Law School he was also an active student. He won the Quezon Gold Medal for
excellence in oratory and editorial writing contest of the UP Collegian. He eventually
became the technical editor of the newspaper and later on a member of the College
Editors Guild. He also joined UP Literary Club, Oratorical and Debate Club. He was
also an ROTC captain and he received the Efficiency Award(Weekly Nation, 1971: 20).
27
He graduated among the top 15 of his class in 1940. Next, he took the bar examination
and successfully passedwith an average of 87.75%.
He was also classmate to former President Marcos in several law subjects (Borja,
1967: 21). In an interview with Mels daughter it was also said that the former President
was indeed a close friend, as the former President wouldstay in Melanios Vigan home
before going home to Batac.
During his early years in studying, his expenses were shouldered by his elder
brother and sister, Vicente and Francisca who are also lawyers themselves (Borja, 1967:
20). Due to financial problems he had to stop his schooling at the UP J unior College. In
order to support himself through college he landed a job and became a messenger to the
General Auditing Office(GAO) (Borja, 1967: 20). Eventually he was promoted to clerk
and then audit clerk-cash examiner, which he held until he completed his law studies
(Borja, 1967: 20). Mels work in the GAO included delivering inter-office memos and
sometimes buying cigarettes for his bosses(Weekly Nation, 1971: 20).
In wartime years, he served in provincial management and administration as
secretary to Isabela Governor Lino Castillejo under the J apanese controlled government
(Borja, 1967: 21). But, as the war ravagedthe country and neared its end, Mel suffered
yet another death in his family. His elder sister Francisca, who was then workingfor the
Bureau of Public Welfare, was accidentally hit by American aerial attacks launched
during the war (Borja, 1967: 21).
28
FROM ILOCOS TO ISABELA
According to the interview with Aurora, Melanio migrated to Isabela upon the
insistence of his brother Vicente who in 1941, had assumed a position in Bayombong,
Nueva Vizcaya and was married to a woman from Santiago, Isabela. In addition to this
according toDylanBorjas article, The Obsession of Melanio Singson, his brother, the
justice of the peace(Municipal Fiscal) in the said town, advised him to go and have his
law practice in Ilagan, Isabela where lawyers were rare.
While in Isabela he had to deal with problems and difficulties of being a new
lawyer. He was an ordinary lawyer who had nobody to provide the much-needed help to
boost his popularity (Borja, 1967: 21). In addition, Mel reportedly said that those were
the trying times of his life. Through his perseverance and skill in the field of law, he was
eventually dubbed as Abogado de Campanilla, which loosely meant a well-known and
respected lawyer. His profession opened an opportunity that brought him closer to the
people of Isabela.
An acclaimed lawyer, Mel was compassionate to his poor clients; his daughter
recalled:
Pag pobre ang kliyente niya, one time nakaharap pa nga ako, bukod sa pinakain niya na ng
hapunan sa bahay, tinanggihan pa niya yung bayad nung kliyente na nag-aabot nang singkwenta
pesos, sabi niya hindi na mas kailangan mo yan.
Apart from being a lawyer, it was also in Isabela where he finally settled and
started a family. Melanio Singson met his future wife through his sister-in-law who
hailedfrom the same town in Santiago, Isabela. Dolores Bersamin, during that time was a
senior high school at St. Marys College in Bayombong. Aurora added that her Uncle
Vicente often visited her grandparents and it was through him that Mels marriage to
29
Dolores was arranged. Dolores hailedfrom Villasis, Pangasinan and Bangued, Abra. Her
father served as Governor of Isabela during the J apanese Occupation.
Their marriage wase blessed with 10 children: Maria Lourdes now (Mrs. Bahia),
Melanio J r., Aurora (now Mrs. Tabangay), Alicia (now Mrs. Felismino), Alfonso, Tomas,
Socorro (now Mrs. Bulan), Victor, Florencio and Benjamin. Life was hard back then
especially with the number of children they had and him being the only one working to
feed the family. Aurora recalled her mother was crying when she was washing their
clothes as she was not used to doing household chores. Her father consoled her mother
and promised that soon enough, their life would be better. The time would when other
people would do household chores for her. She added that:
True to his words, because of his industry he was able to improve our lives, as we used to live
behind the old public market and by 1959 we moved to this place [a compound located at M.
Singson, Avenue, Calamagui 2
nd
, Ilagan, Isabela which contains 7 houses occupied by his wife,
children and their families].
Residing permanently in Ilagan, Isabela, President Roxas appointed him as
assistant provincial fiscal of Isabela, a position he held until 1951 and resigned from
when he ran as governor of the province for the first time but unfortunately lost (Borja,
1967: 21).
30
THE FAMILY MAN
Mel was unfailingly dedicated to his family: a devoted provider, aloving husband
and dotingfather to his wife and ten children. According to his daughter he was a strict
disciplinarian.
At 6 oclock if you are not yet in the house, otherwise you know what comes next, apart from
discipline, cleanliness was important not only physically but spiritually. [Moreover], during
meals, he is conscious of table manners. Lahat ng utensils [must be] properly used, tahimik kami
pag kasama naminsiyangkumakain.Kung ayaw mong kumain ng gulay hed put it on your plate so
youd eat vegetables. You are obliged to eat that kung hindi, hindi ka niya papatayuin.
Mel also emphasized humility. His daughter relates that her father once said:
There is only one governor in this house and that isme and you have no privilege [as a Governors
child], ganun kami pinalaki noon na hindi kami conscious na daddy was occupying a high position
that we were nothing, although he was somebody we are not in equal footing we were not allowed
to use his official car unless we were with him, we had a car that we normally used but never his
official car not even my mommy[can use it without him] and never did my mommy go to his office
for anything, except during programs when her presence was needed.
Aurora also recalls that immediately after graduating in the year 1969, she was
one of those fortunate enough to be selected for a scholarshop abroad. Senator Aquino
was the sponsor of the five chosen Filipino scholars whowould be sent to Russia. Despite
her hesitation for she wanted to take law, shestill went. She shares:
I really didnt want to go. Mga anak rin ng mga congressman [ang] kasama ko. Sila Barbero,
Lapuz. Lima kaming napili. Ang inayawan ko talaga kaya bumalik ako rito [ay] sila lahat naka
diplomatic passport, ako lang ang ordinary. Ayaw ni daddy[kahit] pe-pwede rin sana ako. Ako dun
sa likod sila sa first class. He wanted to put everything in order yung tama lang, hindi ako nagtagal.
As a provider, Mel was able tosend his children to the best schools, such as the
University of the Philippines, University of Santo Tomas, De La Salle University, San
Beda College, Claret School of Quezon City, Far Eastern University, Philippine School
for Business Administration and Saint Louis University. His daughter adds:
He was the best (provider) because he provided for all of us, he was considerate.[Furthermore,
during high school, his daughter recounts that] stockholder si daddy diyan (Saint Ferdinand
College). Ina-apply niya yung dividends niya noon sa tution fee naming. Apart fromproviding our
needs hindi mo masasabing may pagkukulang, kasi binigay niya lahat nang kaya niyang ibigay
whether it was a pair of shoes kasi sa dami naming, kung bibilhan ang isa, bibilhan ang lahat
31
Mel was a very dominant person as his daughter relates. But there were times
when he and his wife would bicker, he would leave the bed and would call his daughter
to help him lay a mattress on the floor. She also notes that it was her mother who was his
weakness and he was sensitive to the things his wife said which shows a glimpse of his
human side.
As of now Dolores, his widow is aged 82. His children have their own lives and
families already: Maria Lourdes is a retired school teacher; Melanio J r., a retired LTO
employee; Aurora, a businesswoman; Alicia, a retired doctor; Alfonso, a practicing
lawyer and a legal officer of the municipality of Ilagan; Tomas, a municipal councilor in
the town of Ilagan; Socorro, a retired nurse; Victor, manager of Isabela Electric
Cooperative Benito Soliven branch; Florencio, a practicing lawyer and Benjamin, a
government employee.
32
POLITICAL CAREER
AS GOVERNOR
In 1951 Mel Singson first ran for governor with thehopes of serving his adoptive
province. Sadly, he lost by 200 votes and since then, he tried to avoid politics. He focused
his effort on his practice of the legal profession (Ealdama, n.d.: 29). But then again, the
call of politics was too strong for him to resist. Friends and fellow party men tried to
convince him to runagainfor the gubernatorial seat in the 1959 elections. He was at first
apprehensive and took a passive stand but was finally convinced by Diosdado Macapagal
who was at that time theVice President and a presidential contender. Macapagal sought
and prevailed him to make another bid for the governorship (Borja, 1967: 21). This
time, he was able to win the seat, leading his rival by 1000 votes. He served his first term
as governor from 1960 to 1962andran for reelection in 1963. He won over his rival by
20,000 votes which was unprecedented in Isabelas political history (Ealdama, n.d.:29
and Dacanay, 1966).
Mel, hailed from a prominent family in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, the Singsons, was
simply living up to the family tradition of engaging inpolitics. Way back in the 1800s,
the Singsons held the position of gobernadorcillo of the gremio de mestizos for five
terms. This is the present counterpart of the Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce and
Industry (Chavitsingson.net). Being able to hold the post of gobernadorcillo meant great
prestige and likewise meant that they were part of Vigans crme de la crme society
(Chavitsingson.net). Moreover with family members such as the late Don Vicente
Singson Encarnacion, a former provincial fiscal of Ilocos Sur, congressman, senator and
cabinet member, he was able to administer Isabelas affairs in the proper spirit of the
33
sincere and dedicated public servant (Dacanay, 1966). This vision of how a public
servant should be is what Mel Singson used as a guiding principle of how Isabelas
politics should be managed.
GOVERNANCE
Mel lamented the fact that some public officials and a growing number of
private citizens had developed a mentality which subscribes to the belief that a public
official is stupid indeed if he cannot enrich himself while in office (Bulletin, 1962). In
response to this, he and his colleagues in the administration and through President
Macapagals campaign for moral regeneration, they were able to achieve an honest,
efficient and courteouscivil service. This was attained by adoptingprogressive personnel
policies, which gave recognition to merit and good work. A pay scale was also
implemented for employees, thehighest in Cagayan Valleyat that time(Ignacio, 1965:2).
In addition, he advocated for the nullification of Administrative Order No. 262, Series of
1958, for the reason that the salary rates in ranking positions within the local
governments werevery low compared to similar positions under the national government.
He proposed that by increasing the standard rates of compensation, it would provide more
incentive and thus, efficiency among the lower bracket employees under the government
(Fernandez, 1963). This move was an indication towards greater autonomy of local
governments, especially in planning their own fiscal affairs (Fernandez, 1963).
One of the most astonishing achievements in finance was that the administration
was able to increase the provinces revenue by 91 percent in a span of four years;
likewise he has succeeded in reducing capital indebtedness by 33 percent in the same
length of time (Borja, 1967: 21). This was made possible through fiscalization, tax
34
education and tax collection campaigns which were even commended by then Secretary
of Finance Rodrigo Perez. It happened during the time when 90 percent of local
governments were plagued by financial woes (Ignacio, 1965:10; Borja, 1967: 21).
INFRASTRUCTURE
Apart from the above said, the administration had a long list of salient
accomplishments in public works. According to Aurora Tabangay, her father prioritized
feeder roads, solar pavements, drying facilities for agricultural produce, farm-to-market
roads and roads that would open the isolated coastal areas. Furthermore, this initiative to
link the coastal areas was seen advantageous because natural resources of these places
could be utilized and this would, in turn, provide income most especially for the
municipalities of Divilacan, Maconacon, Dinapigue and Palanan. This was evidenced by
the P2.5 million San Mariano- Palanan road construction in 1962, an 80-kilometer
highway that would pass through rich agricultural lands of the province. The road was
constructed under the premise that it would enhance development especially in the
agricultural, mining and lumber industries of the province, in hopes of contributing
substantially to the agricultural, commercial and industrial progress of the country
(Viduya, 1962). Mel saw himself not only as a governor but also as father of the province
with the task to brighten the prospects of his people in the days to come and to give the
succeeding generations the opportunity to live a contented life (Viduya, 1962).
Aside from this, a report as of J une 30, 1965 stated that the administration
subgraded 486.40 kilometers of roads, graveled 461.45 kilometers, erected bridges
totaling 724. 48 lineal meters and installed concrete culverts measuring 1,349.80 lineal
meters (Ignacio, 1965: 3). This can be verified in an article dated 1962 which stated that
35
31 kilometers of rural roads in 19 barrios of three municipalities have been improved.
These roads are the following:
Echague- barrio roads of Quezon-Victoria-Rizal- Cebu; kilometers; all of those
barrio roads traversed the rice fields of the town of Echague; Santiago- the
barrio roads of Bugalon-San Miguel- 5 kilometers; in the town of Alicia, the
barrio roads are; Dagupan-Callao-Aurora- 4 kilometers; Callao-Santo Tomas- 3
kilometers (Northern Luzon Chronicle, 1962).
Other infrastructures were also constructed such as two access roads to the Mallig
region, which would be twice the number of existing arterial roads back then and a bridge
in Gamu, Isabela that would allow the flow of traffic between eastern and western Isabela
(Ignacio, 1965: 3). Ferry services were likewise established during his tenure, such as
Magsaysay and Lullutan in Ilagan, Isabela. Upon the efforts of the administration, a
budget worth P 2,000,000.00 was approved for the Cagayan Valley Railroad Extension
Program (Ignacio, 1965: 3-4). Aside from this, the administration was successful for the
release of funds for projects such as river control and irrigation systems (Ignacio, 1965:
3-4). Tractors, graders, crawlers, loaders, dump trucks and other imported equipment and
machinery needed for the construction and maintenance of roads were acquired by the
provincial government through a loan-financing plan, which made the provincial
government independent from the National Equipment Depot on the availability of units
and likewise save money from renting machinery and equipment needed to pursue other
projects (Ingnacio, 1965: 4-5). Through the administrations joint effort with National
Economic Council, the agency for national development of the United States and the
Bureau of Public works, Isabela was included in the feasibility study of resources and
river basin development (Northern Luzon Chronicle, 1963).
36
EDUCATION
Education was also given special attention during the administration of Mel
Singson. The two most pressing problems resolved were the classroom shortages and
financial problems faced by public schools. On J une 30, 1965 the administration had
extended provincial aid for the construction, completion, repair and improvement of
schools that amounted to P403, 915.20. The following fiscal year another P100, 000.00
was allotted for the same purpose (Ignacio, 1965: 5). Through his efforts a new Home
Economics building andatwo-room building was put upandequipment for the Drum &
Bugle Corp was also obtained for the Isabela High School (now known as Isabela
National High School), the only provincial high school funded by the provincial
government (The Isabelan, 1964).
Moreover, scholarships were granted to deserving students. Eligible students
include elementary school valedictorians who were given full scholarship for high school.
On the other hand, salutatorians received half scholarships for high school. These grants
were also extended to those who were already in high school (Ignacio, 1965:6). In
addition, college scholarships were also extended to indigent members of the community,
as he (Mel) along with the members of the Isabela Provincial Board had approved
Resolution No. 340. c.s. granting scholarships to deserving students, which consisted of
cash allowance not exceeding P100.00 a month, reimbursement of travelling expenses
and subsistence allowance, matriculation fees, cost of books, provided the aggregate sum
shall not exceed P 2,000.00 a year for each student-pensionado (Northern Luzon
Chronicle, 1964). In return, grantees should serve for at least two years in any of the
37
schools in Isabela, under the employment of the Department of Education (Northern
Luzon Chronicle, 1964).
Also, a University of the Philippines System branch was sought for Isabela
through Republic Act 5215 which provides for the establishment of a branch of the
University of the Philippines in Ilagan, Isabela, to serve the Cagayan Valley (Manila
Bulletin, 1987: 20). This was initiated by Mel with the purpose of allowing students who
cannot attend UP in Metro Manila, due to financial circumstances, to have a chance of
having a UP education. Sadly, after losing in the Congressional reelection, the project
was discontinued by his successors.
HEALTH AND SANITATION
Health and sanitation were also prioritized under his administration. A contagious
disease pavilion for the Isabela Provincial Hospital now known as Gov. Faustino N. Dy
Provincial Hospital was constructed from the funds secured by the administration.
Likewise, ambulances, medical, and surgical equipments were also obtained for the
hospital (Ignacio, 1965: 6). Furthermore, it is shown in the Northern Luzon Chronicle
dated Tuesday, October 6, 1964, that as governor, Mel obtained funds from the
Philippine Charity Sweepstakes for a 12-bed contagious pavilion to the Isabela Provincial
Hospital (Northern Luzon Chronicle, 1964). In line with this, the administration was also
able to accomplish the establishment of added rural and barrio health centers. Mobile
health clinics were also put up and staffed by physicians, nurses, nursing aides and
driver-helpers (Ignacio, 1965: 6). In addition to this, the provincial government had
provided funds for surgical and medical equipment for the Palanan Rural Health Unit.
38
New positions were also created so as to make the health services broader such as
midwives, inoculators, and vaccinators (Ignacio, 1965: 6).
AGRICULTURE
The development of agriculture was apart of the salient accomplishments of the
administration. Given that agriculture is one of the chief industries in Isabela, the
provincial administration gave attention to the development of agro-social-economic
policies and programs. This was evidenced by the financial assistance extended by the
provincial government to the Commission on Agricultural Productivity, the Bureau of
Plant Industry and the Bureau of Soils (Ignacio, 1965: 7). Aside from this, through the
assistance of the United Nations, the administration was able to put up a Soils Laboratory
equipped with modern instruments and apparatuses in the municipality of Ilagan
(Ignacio, 1965:7). The facility is primarily for doing research on how to improve the
agricultural output of Isabela. It is also to his credit that San Mariano, Isabela was made
into a designated sugar central (Borja, 1967:21). As a result, the provincenowpossessed
a sugar central milling that processed the provinces sugar cane produce and likewise
offered job opportunities to Isabelinos (Ignacio, 1965:7). Apart from these, Mel was
largely responsible for the promotion of a Philippine Coconut Administration
(PHILCOA) coconut seed bank (Borja, 1967: 21), on a site that was leased by the
provincial government (Ignacio, 1965:7).
Veterinary services were also provided by the provincial government so as to
protect livestock and work animals from diseases and to scientific breeding (Ignacio,
1965: 8).
39
Through this, it is evident that not only the agricultural produce was given
importance but also the welfare of the farmers.
LAND MANAGEMENT
Furthermore, accomplishments of Mels administration werealso apparent in the
area of land distribution and management. Forest lands were released for settlement by
the landless and legitimate public land applicants were protected from opportunists
(Ignacio, 1965:7). During his tenure as Isabelas OIC- Governor, he proposed Tierra
Virgen located in the eastern portion of the province as a probable site for land reform.
This was patterned after former President Macapagals Economic Development Corps
(EDCOR) Program (Manila Bulletin, 1987: 5). This program aimedto grant portions of
state-owned lands for discharged soldiers (McClintock, 2002). In addition, the governors
help was also sought by the Tingians who were reportedly facing ejection 20 kilometers
east of Tumauini, Isabela. His aid was asked to help them retain possession of their land.
They asked him to facilitate the classification of their lands into agricultural lands so that
they might be able to secure land titles. As a response, the Bureau of Forestry assured
him that the request wouldbe given priority (Northern Luzon Chronicle, 1962).
Moreover, protecting the lands of the people of Isabela also form part of the land
projects/thrusts of the governor. Mel, along with Gov. J ose Espino of Nueva Vizcaya
supported the charges of land-grabbing against the Ilocos Development Company and
Senate President Marcos, the companys legal counsel, who attempted to acquire 27,000
hectares of land in the provinces of Isabela and Nueva Vizcaya (The Manila Times, 1965:
21-A). In relation to this, as far back as 1958 Mel had already warned Marcos in a
luncheon the two had in his home in Isabela, to refrain from participating because this is
40
a very explosive matter involving people whose lands have been theirs for so many
years (Evening News, 1965).
ENVIRONMENT
As for the management of the natural resources of Isabela, Mels administration
closely worked with Forestry officials and adopted an uncompromising attitude in their
campaign against squatters and illegal loggers (Ignacio, 1965: 8). In an interview with the
Philippine Panorama in 1986, Mel was quoted:
As early as during the 60s Ive been fighting the illegal cutters because I felt that if we did not
protect our forests there would come a time when our rich tobacco and rice lands, would become
deserts, and there are signs that that is beginning to happen. In the 1960s, Ilagan was getting its
water supply from a spring called Puyot. Then a group of settlers came over and started cutting trees.
What I did was to go to Manila and get the office on wild life to put up a warden here. But
apparently this did not stop the kaingeros and in time the spring dried up. Now Ilagans water supply
has to be pumped fromunderground. I amafraid that what happened to Ilagan could happen to the
whole province if we did not stop indiscriminate logging (Flores, 1986).
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AND LIVELIHOOD
The provincial administration also saw the necessity of community development.
Through his (Mel) strong representation, funds for the Talaca Spring Development
Project was approved. According to the Manila Daily Bulletin, the project wascalculated
to greatly help the barrio people solve their problem of obtaining safe and potable
drinking water, it will also help people undertake self-help projects like vegetable
gardens, poultry and swine raising, planting cash crops as well as other income producing
activities (1963).
As governor, he was part of the Philippine delegates otherwise known as V-AID
team to visit and observe community development areas in Pakistan such as Preshawar,
Lahore, Nowshera andMardan. With him were Deputy Presidential Assistant Faustino S.
Macutay, Governor of Leyte Idelfonso Cinco and Vice Governor Mamintal Tamano of
Lanao del Sur Governor (The Pakistan Times, 1960). The experiences and strategies of
41
community development the team learned were to be applied in their respective
communities.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Economic development also received attention, as Mel organized the Isabela
Provincial Economic Development Board that was established to harness the talents of
private individuals and technical men to study, plan and propose ideas of a more
progressive Isabela. In addition, it was intended to formulate workable and practical agro-
socio-economic blueprint of Isabela (Borja, 1967:21; Ignacio. 1965: 8-9). This was a
joint effort between the private sector and the provincial government (Philippine Herald,
n.d.) Mel served as chairman along with sixteen members from various groups such as
the highway district engineer, district irrigation engineer, provincial agriculturist,
division superintendent of schools, President of Isabela Mayors League, and
representatives of the Development Bank of the Philippines, Philippine National Bank,
Philippine Tobacco Administration and the Northeastern Luzon Cattle Raisers
Association, other members were also derived from corn and rice growers, sugar
industry, livestock and poultry raisers, tobacco industry, lumber industry and cacao and
coffee growers (Philippine Herald, n.d.).
PEACE AND ORDER
Peace and order was also given proper attention during Mels administration. The
provincial government along with the Philippine Constabulary (PC) and the National
Bureau of Investigation (NBI) conducted trainings to raise the quality of the provinces
police force (Ignacio, 1965: 10).
42
AS CABINET MEMBER
During 1964, there were talks of President Macapagal appointing Mel as
executive secretary. Even the Philippine Herald went on saying that President
Macapagal has finally made up his mind to appoint Isabela Gov. Melanio T. Singson as
executive secretary (Garlit, 1964). Yet, it never came. His supposed appointment was
opposed by congressmen who wanted the new executive secretary to be a solon or a
former solon for the reason that the following year (1965) would be a congressional
election(Philippine Herald, 1964). It was opposed because there were rumors circulating
that Mel, in the coming elections would leave the provincial seat and eventually run as a
representative (congressman) of Isabelas lone district which would have hindered the
fulfillment of his duty as executive secretary. Also, a telegram arrived with a message
Appointment deferred pending arrival of Mrs. Macapagal (Tanedo, 1964).
Aurora Singson, recalls that:
He was supposed to be appointed as executive secretary, pero iba pala ang manok ni Eva
Macapagal, later on he was first made as Undersecretary of J ustice and then eventually became the
Acting Secretary of J ustice before he was made to run for Congress. Andiyan na yung eroplano sa
Cauayan noon eh, hinihintay na lang yung pagluwas naming lahat, buong pamilya, biglang may
tumawag.
Upon his appointment as Undersecretary of J ustice and later as Acting Secretary
of J ustice, he continued to hold two gubernatorial positions- that of the province and the
Development Bank of the Philippines. Furthermore, as undersecretary, he concurrently
served as chairman of the Board of Pardons and Parole and the Deportation Board. Apart
from his held positions as Undersecretary, he was also appointed as chairman of the
Committee on Appeals of the Board of Censors for Motion Picture and director of the
Philippine Charity Sweepstakes and the Boardof Travel and Tourist Industry. Aside from
43
these he was also director to the Philippine Tobacco Administration and member to
various key presidential committees (Dacanay, 1966).
Mel stressed fairness and integrity. For him, the municipal courts are the first
and last refuge of the poor, who can hardly pay their lawyers fees, if the poor fail to
receive justice then the foundations of the government will have been shaken (Manila
Chronicle, 1965). On the other hand, he was praised for his firmness in decision making
and judgement. This was especially apparent during a prison riot in Fort Bonifacio where
the prisoners demanded to be returned to Muntinlupa because they did not want to be
confined with political prisoners such as the communist politburo members (Manila
Bulletin, 1965: 4). He denied such requests and didnot accede to their demands, andwas
quoted saying Get them back to Fort Bonifacio, they have no business to make such a
demand (Philippine Herald, 1965). He was praised for his decisions that werefounded
on the principles of discipline and order. He later left the cabinet position upon filing for
his congressional candidacy for the lone district of Isabela.
Holding various positions, Mels life hadbeen quite busy and when asked by E.
Ealdama on what he does in an ordinary day, Mel tells: Ill just say that my day begins
when a barrio captain knocks at the house at six in the morning and sometimes ends one
past midnight at Malacanang or a night plane (Ealdama, n.d. : 29). In addition, he was
quoted saying that his work involved regular provincial board meeting, an emergency
conference with the president, an urgent case at the Philippine TobaccoAdministration, a
late schedule at the DBP and a sudden political maneuver (Ealdama, n.d. : 28).
44
AS CONGRESSMAN
As a congressman, it is important to note the political context of Isabela during
the 1960s. Since the end of the war, the province has often been under the Liberal Party
(LP), except for two occasions where a Nacionalista hadrepresented the provinces lone
district in the halls of Congress (Borja, 1967: 22). LP leadership in the province was
solidified when Ferdinand Marcos becamepresident of the LP in 1962 and more sowhen
he was elected as Senate President in 1963 (Borja, 1967: 22). The partys success in the
provincewas mainlybecause of the interplay of ethnicity and politics. Isabela, a province
mostly populated by Ilocanos, supported an Ilocano. Hence, the Ilocanos and the
province were Liberalized (Borja, 1967:22).
Marcos shift to the Nacionalista Party (NP) in 1964 had major repercussions in
the provinces political landscape. LP followers remained as LPs while being loyal to
Marcos and their local LP leaders (Borja, 1967: 22). In 1965, Melanio T. Singson, an LP,
defeated Rep. Delfin Albano, an NP, for his reelection (Borja, 1967: 22).
According to Dylan Borja:
Isabelas odd political persuasion was demonstrated in the last election
when its electorate voted heavily for Marcos, the NP presidential
candidate and for Singson, the LP congressional bet. How long this
divided political loyalty of the Isabelinos will last? (Borja, 1967: 22).
There were talks of Singson turning NP, as reflected by the Presidents scheme of
wooing Ilocano congressmen (Borja, 1967: 22). In addition, Mel was called by the
President a number of times concerning the revamp of the Lower House and the
installation of Rep. J ose B. Laurel, J r. as speaker. But still and always, he remained a
Liberal (Borja, 1967: 22).
45
The presidency of Ferdinand Marcos has created Isabela as one of the most
politically unstable provinces, and President Marcoss ascendancy to the premier position
of leadership in the country under the NP banner has made Isabelas political scheme a
highly confused one (Borja, 1967: 22). This confusion and instability would explain the
course of the political life of Melanio T. Singson.
Not wanting to leave the provincial administration and due to his inclination to
remain as provincial governor up to the end of his term, he had to accede to the clamor of
the people and his party members who wanted him to represent the province in congress
(Ignacio, 1965: 12).
He won as congressman in 1965 by a meager 2000 votes over his rival, a term
which he served until 1969. His victory was due to his previous political background as a
former governor and as a member of numerous government positions, coupled with his
considerable accomplishments (Singh, 1966). Also, it is to his credit that the branches of
the DBP, National Bureau of Investigation(NBI) and Motor Vehicle Office are located in
the province (Singh, 1966).
As a newcomer to the legislature, Mel established himself as one of the few
brilliant legislators ever to grace the halls of Congress (Philippine News Magazine,
1969), with his involvement in committees and the revision of laws. He was part of
congressional committees such as education, good government, judiciary, reorganization,
mines, provincial and municipal government, public works, revision of laws and ways
and means (Editorial and Publication Services, House of Representatives, 1967: 252).
He was catapulted to prominence in his anti-smuggling bills, where his bills on
anti-smuggling featured death penalty for homicide committed as a consequence of
46
smuggling; extension of the 20 percent cash reward to government officials and
employees instrumental in the discovery and seizure of smuggled goods; punishment of
both the smuggler and the possessor of smuggled goods; transfer to the possessor or
owner of smuggled goods the burden of proof that he is not guilty; stiffer penalties for
traffickers, including deportation for aliens and disqualification from public office on the
part of government personnel (Weekly Nation, 1966).
In addition it is to his credit that the campaign period was shortened through the
Tanada-Singson Law. In an interview with Al Cadiente in the Valley Time, Mel allegedly
said,
Because the campaign is legally shortened, the poor but highly qualified candidates if favored. As
he cannot afford a long, protracted and expensive campaign the law places the poor candidate on a
par on an equal footing with the moneyed candidate. The rich candidate cannot utilize his money to
thedisadvantage of the poor candidate except to buy votes (Cadiente, 1966).
The law specifically addressed the ludicrous spending associated to campaigns and
elections.
Belowis alist of his laws(R.A.) and proposed bills (H.No.) passed by both
houses that werein pending action by the president in 1969 in The Valley Times dated
September 6, 1969 (as of now, some are already enacted into laws):
Governance
R.A. No. 4712- An act amending certain sections of the Tariff and Customs Code of the
Philippines. (Anti-Smuggling Law)
R.A. No. 4730- An act providing for a procedure for validating the permanent registration
of voters approved by Election Registrars and to provide for registration boards.
R.A. No. 4664- An act authorizing the increase of Philippine Economic and Technical
Assistance to the Republic of South Vietnam
R.A. No. 4700- An act providing for the acquisition and operation of a National Security
Printing Plant.
R.A. 5776- An Act Creating Certain Municipal Districts in the Province of Isabela
R.A. No. 4848- An act fixing the salaries of officers and personnel in the Administrative,
Accounting, Fiscal and other services of the Department of J ustice.
R.A. No.4864- An act creating the Police Commission, amending and revising laws
relative to the local police system, and for other purposes.
47
R.A. No. 4873- An act creating the Municipality of Benito Soliven in the Province of
Isabela.
R.A. No. 4877- An act creating the Municipality of Burgos in the Province of Isabela.
R.A. No. 4880- An act to amend Republic Act Numbered One hundred and eighty,
otherwise known as The Revised Election Code, by limiting the period of election
campaign, now popularly called the TANADA-SINGSON LAW.
R.A. No. 4897- An act to further amend Commonwealth Act Numbered One hundred
twenty.
R.A. No. 4901- An act creating the Municipality of Quirino in the Province of Isabela.
R.A. No. 4906- An act creating the Municipality of San Guillermo in the Province of
Isabela.
R.A. No. 5139- An act creating the Municipality of San Isidro in the Province of Isabela.
R.A. No. 5166- The Accountancy Act of 1967.
R.A. No. 5192- An act granting the Cagayan Valley Utilities Corporation a franchise to
install, operate and maintain a telephone system in the provinces of Cagayan, Isabela and
Nueva Vizcaya.
R.A. No. 5173- An act creating a Philippine Coast Guard, prescribing its powers and
functions, appropriating the necessary funds therefore and for other purposes.
R.A. No. 5203- An act to amend certain sections of Title IX of the National Internal
Revenue Code. (Civil remedies for collection of taxes)
R.A. No. 5223- An act authorizing any provincial, municipal or city government to enter
into contract with any private party for the construction of its self-liquidating projects.
R.A. No. 5276- An act transferring the seat of Government of the Municipality of
Ramon, Province of Isabela.
R.A. No. 5325- An act amending Commonwealth Act numbered Four hundred sixty-six,
otherwise known as the National Internal Revenue Code.
R.A. No. 5431- An act amending the National Internal Revenue Code. (Rates of tax in
corporations)
R.A. No. 5436- An act amending Commonwealth Act numbered Four hundred and sixty
six.
R.A. No. 5499- An act amending the National Internal Revenue Code.
R.A. No. 5451- An act authorizing the President of the Philippines to sell a parcel of land
to the Knights of Rizal.
H. No. 349- An act creating six additional positions of assistant provincial fiscal for the
Province of Isabela.
H. No. 11156- An act affecting certain barrios of Isabela.
H. No. 11887- An act standardizing the salary or compensation of legal officers in the
national government.
H. No. 15773- An act affecting certain barrios of Isabela.
H. No. 17676- An act making the President of the University of the Philippines Alumni
Association amember of the Board of Regents thereof.
H. No. 16293- An act creating three new municipal districts in the Province of Isabela.
H. No. 16623- An act amending Republic Act numbered Thirty-one hundred one.
H. No. 17601- An act amending the Revised Administrative Code.
H. No. 17839- An act amending certain provision of the National Internal Revenue.
48
H, No. 18774- An act appropriating additional funds for the Philippine Veterans
Administration.
H. No. 18903- An act amending Republic Act Numbered Two thousand nine hundred
twelve.
H. No. 7339- An act amending Republic Act numbered One thousand One-hundred
thirty.
H. No. 18104- An act penalizing employers of illegal entrants.
Livelihood and Economic Programs
R.A. No. 5092- An act to promote and regulate the exploration, development,
exploitation and utilization of geothermal energy, natural gas and methane gas, to
encourage its conservation.
R.A. No. 5186- An act prescribing incentives and guarantees to investments in the
Philippines, creating a Board of Investments, appropriating the necessary funds therefore
and for other purposes.
R.A. No. 5231- An act establishing animal breeding station in the Municipality of
Quezon, Province of Isabela.
R.A. No. 5219- An act repealing Republic Act numbered Twenty-nine hundred and fifty-
nine, entitled An act granting Pedro Bangug a Franchise for an electric light, heat and
power system in the municipality of Cabagan, Province of Isabela.
R.A. No. 5384- An act granting Slyvia G. Gumabao a franchise to construct, maintain,
and operate an ice plant and cold storage in the Municipalities of Santiago and Echague,
Province of Isabela, and to sell and distribute ice so manufactured and furnish cold
storage therein and in the municipalities of Alicia, Angadanan, Cauayan, Cabatuan, San
Mateo, Ramon, Cordon, J ones, San Agustin, San Guillermo and San Isidro all in the
Province of Isabela.
R.A. No. 5326- An act amending Republic Act numbered Three thousand four hundred
seventy. (Cottage Industries)
H. No. 6125- An act further amending Republic Act Numbered Eleven hundred and
thirty-five, entitled An act establishing the Philippine Tobacco Adminsitration.
H. No. 13256- An act amending Republict Act numbered 720 as amended otherwise
known as the Rural Bank Act.
H. No. 16516- An act declaring Mariveles in the Province of Bataan a free port.
Infrastructure
R.A. No. 5143- An act authorizing the Public Service Commission to construct and
adequate and permanent building for its offices in Quezon City.
R.A. No. 5245- An act granting Alberto Rodriguez a temporary permit to construct,
maintain and operate private fixed point-to-point and land based and land mobile radio
stations for the reception and transmission of radio communications within the
Philippines.
R.A. No. 5279- An act authorizing the construction of specific public works projects by
private corporations, associations, partnerships or individuals payable with; or in
consideration of certificates of indebtedness.
49
R.A. No. 5398- An act appropriating funds for the construction of national buildings on
Constitution Hill, Quezon City.
H. No. 16258- An act amending Republic Act numbered Forty-eight hundred fifty four
(re public works act).
H. No. 17434- An act appropriating funds for public works synchronizing the same with
previous public works appropriation.
Social Welfare
R.A. No. 4670- The Magna Carta for public school teachers.
R.A. No. 4917- An act providing that retirement benefits of employees of private firms
shall not be subject to attachment, levy, execution, or any tax whatsoever.
R.A. No. 5059- An act granting life pension and franking privilege to former Presidents
of the Philippines.
R.A. No. 5215- An act providing for the establishment of a branch of the University of
the Philippines in the Municipality of Ilagan, Province of Isabela.
R.A. No. 5235- An act granting the Philippine National Red Cross a franchise to
establish, maintain and operate private fixed point-to-point private Coastal, private
aeronautical and land based and land mobile radio stations for the transmission and
reception of wireless messages to and from said stations.
R.A. No. 5342- An act establishing the Palanan Station Hospital in the Municipality of
Palanan, Province of Isabela, and authorizing the appropriation of funds therefor.
R.A. No. 5416- An act providing for comprehensive social services, creating for this
purpose a Department of Social Welfare.
H. No. 16149- An act establishing a tuberculosis pavilion in the Municipality of Cauayan,
Province of Isabela.
H. No. 18978- The Magna Carta of Students.
Environment
H. No. 16583- An act establishing in the Municipality of Ilagan, Province of Isabela, a
soil and water conservation demonstration station to be known as Cagayan Valley Soild
and Water Conservation Demonstration Station.
Through his hard work and perseverance he has been chosen every year from
1966-1969 as one of the Ten Most Outstanding Congressmen, Ten Useful Congressmen.
Likewise, he was unanimously selected as Top Parliamentarian in the Philippine News
Magazine and other publications such as The Congressional Press Club, Philippine Free
Press, Weekly Nation, and the Congressional Watchdog (Cadiente, 1969).
50
He was also dubbed as Mr. Good Government, for his clean and spotless
record; given his 29 years of public service, not even once has his name been involved in
scandal, anomaly nor subjected to inquiry, such was his records in government service
(Weekly Nation, 1971). Moreover, his daughter Aurora added:
In politics I never head anybody say Daddy was corrupt, because kung may projects binubuhos
niya talaga [ang pondo]. Wala naman silang masabi noon kundi personal. Mommy ko raw hindi
marunong ngumiti, wala eh kami noon ang inaatake. Kung nakikinig kami noon sa radio sabi ni
Daddy wag na raw kaming making. Walang nagsabi na nagnakaw ang daddy ko.
Papers and publications ran praises of him such as:
Melanio Singson belongs to the old school of politicians, serious at debates, conscientious in his
job, a no-nonsense parliamentarian. For his intelligence, sobriety, impeccable conduct, he is the
most admired and respected among the newcomers (Philippine Free Press as cited in Weekly
Nation, 1971).
A sharp fiscalizer, he is one of the oppositions mainstays in Congress. No important bill passes the
House without his searching scrutiny (Philippine Free Press ascited in Weekly Nation, 1971).
He is one of the few solons who enjoy the respect of colleagues fromboth parties. He has a perfect
record of attendance; no major bill goes through the House without his participation (Philippine
Free Press ascited in Weekly Nation, 1971).
Although a neophyte, he made his mark for his work on the anti-smuggling measure. He hammered
into shape several bills designed to arrest the rising cost of election campaigns. He sponsored the
most number of bills calendared for debate . . . A consistent interpellator on the House floor, his
wide experience in law and the justice department contributed to the perfection of legislative
measures. Protector of Philippine forests, enemy of illegal loggers, exponent of better treatment for
school teachers; and advocate of clean government through honesty, loyalty and better discipline. . .
Having been justice undersecretary and acting secretary of justice, Singsons experience gave him
brilliance in clarifying and amending proposedlaws tjat were debated on the floor (Weekly Nation,
1966 as cited in Weekly Nation, 1971).
A former Acting Secretary of J ustice, he led the debates on bills touching on the judiciary and
introduced vital amendments to the measures creating special criminal courts and the budget (The
Valley Times, 1967).
Singson has carved a niche in the nations legislature yet to be equaled by his peers (The
Congressional Watchdog ascited in Weekly Nation, 1971).
Also, during President Marcos regime Mel, being a sharp fiscalizer spoke against
thePresidents approvednational budget, denounced the waste of the taxpayers money,
criticized the unrealistic approach to the needs of the country, the omission of land
reform appropriations, the huge political items, the bloated appropriations of the armed
forces andfought against the tax measures of the administration (Rama, 1969).
51
His performance in the halls of congress earned him, respect and admiration
among his colleagues in the lower house and earned him the title Congressmens
Congressman. He was praised for his integrity, performance and devotion to his
congressional duty and for his intelligent and profound perspective in legislative work,
where he established a record of having introduced the most numerous and vital
amendments improving the bills not only in substance but also in language and style
(Rama, 1969).
He was defeated in his reelection bid in 1969. In an editorial in the Congress
Newsletter his and ex-Congressman Benjamin N. Tabios (Bukidnon) defeat were
lamented. According to the editorial, they were the epitome of the kind of lawmakers
this nation needs. They are leading examples on responsible fiscalization. They authored
many bills main theme of which was general welfare and not the serving of vested
interest as was the hallmark of the legislative output of their mediocre colleagues
(Congress Newsletter, 1969:4). It is also said that, their failure to win reelection indicated
how the countrys elections were dictated by money and lots of it. After losing his
Congressional reelection he was not able to continue his good fight in Congress for the
peoples welfare as a newspaper put it. Many liked the hardworking lawmaker from
Isabela. Not only his friends or colleagues from the Liberal and Nacionalistaparties felt
sorry but those from the media as well. Nap Rama of the Free Press expressed his
sentiment, one of the most lamentable results of the last elections (1969) was Isabela
Congressman Singsons failure to return to the House (Weekly Nation, 1971).
52
INVOLVEMENT IN CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS
Melanio T. Singson was also involved in civic activities such as the Philippine
National Red Cross which he had served for numerous years. As part of the Red Cross,
he became governor, member of the national executive board and has assumed the
chairmanship of the organizations Isabela chapter (Editorial and Publication Services,
House of Representatives, 1967: 182). He was also a recipient of the Dona Aurora
Aragon-Quezon Medal and the Silver Humanitarian Cross for his noble deeds, service
and leadership in the cause of humanity.
He was also a member and director of the League of Provincial Governors and
City Mayors; FAO-ICA association; Lions Club where he held the positions of Lion
Tamer and director; Regional Commander of the Knights of Rizal and Director to the
Isabela Provincial Health Council. He was also a member of the Boy Scouts of the
Philippines (BSP) where he received the bronze tamaraw and silver usa for his
distinguished service rendered to the BSP. He served as part of the BSP National
Executive Board President of Isabela Council from 1955-1956, as chief of Northern
Luzon Sub-Camp of the 10
th
World J amboree, andassecretary of Isabela Chapter Board.
As part of the Knights of Columbus, he served as grand knight from 1956 to
1960. He was also director of the League of Liberal Party Elective Provincial and City
Officials, a member of Adoracion Nocturna Filipino and the Isabela Golf Club.
He also received the:
St. Dominic Savio award for his meritorious services to Catholic action among the youth through
his leadership in the promotion, organization and operation of and services to Scout units and
troop development on Diocesan committee level (The Gazette, 1962).
He was cited for his:
Outstanding and effective promotional initiative to provide a program for youth welfare, vocational
guidance, camping activities and overall character development, he is the first to receive the award
53
in the Archdioceses of Nueva Sogvia and the first outside of the Archdioceses of Manila to receive
the award(The Gazette, 1962).
This award is an adult religious award given to Catholic Scout leaders
(Scoutcenter.net).
Mel, was also a grantee under the OCA-NEC plan. As a travel grantee he
observed and studied aspects of community development particularly In the year 1960
when he flew to India and Pakistan. He was also delegate to the Eastern Regional
Organization of Public Administration held in Tokyo, J apan on J une, 1964 (Ealdama,
n.d. : 29). As a topnotch lawyer, he was selected as the first president of the Isabela
chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, which was known back then as the Bar
Integration of the Philippines (The Valley Times, 1973: 1).All in all, he was arecipient of
more than 50 gold, silver and bronze awards, plaques and certificates of merit given by
various national, civic and charitable organizations.
54
SENATORIAL HOPEFUL
After his defeat, Mel went back to practice his legal profession. Before he could
adjust to his new life there came a call from the Liberal Party;
A call to join the oppositions senatorial slate in this coming elections as a symbol of the LPs
commitment to the people to draft into its senatorial ticket not only men of achievement, men of
compassion, men concerned with the appaling state of the nation, but also men of proven moral
courage and integrity, and he was told by the opposition party leaders that he stood as an example
of all these (Weekly Nation, 1971:23).
He was hesitant at first but eventually agreed to accept his nomination. Upon accepting
his nomination he said:
I decided to accept [my nomination] on the hope that our electorate would vote for a man who is
committed to offer his only possessions- his life and his record of integrity- in the interest of our
nations welfare(Weekly Nation, 1971: 23).
According to his daughter Aurora, when her father ran for senator, her father had to sell
their house in Kamias, Quezon City and other properties to finance his campaign.
Having been out of public life for two years, he was the least known among the
LP senatorial candidates namely: J ovito Salonga, Genaro Magsaysay, J ohn Henry
Osmena, Eddie Ilarde, Eva Estrada Kalaw, Ramon Mitra J r., Salipada K. Pendatun and
him. The senatorial slatethoughwas said to be representative of the main regions; Mels
selection was to represent the Ilocos Region and the Ilocano-speaking provinces of
Central Luzon (Weekly Nation, 1971: 11). Hispolitical platform concerned autonomy. He
was quoted saying, If elected to the Senate, I will fight for a better judiciary and really
autonomous local governments, irkedby the fact that local government officials have to
beg from the national government for funds. And, given his record as an advocate, and as
a former congressmanhehad fought for the Local Autonomy Lawthat would give more
power to governors (Macatuno, 1971). Being a former governor himself, he knew the
difficulties of running a provincial government without the appropriate funds. He
55
intended to propose a law that would give governors the power of taxation in order for
them to push through with their projects in their respective provinces (Macatuno, 1971).
Through Mel, The Liberal Party said that if they were elected they would
propose a more equitable distribution of the nations wealth and delimit wealth
accumulation and promote its dispersal among the broad masses of our people (The
Daily Mirror, 1971). This legislation was specified as profit-sharing in industrial and
concerns; capital sharing on a limited scale for the broadening of the capital base and
progressive taxation specifically imposing heavier levies on wealth (The Daily Mirror,
1971).
As part of the Liberal Party Senatorial Ticket, he was among those injured in the
Plaza Miranda Bombing where the Liberal Partys proclamation rally was heldon August
21, 1971. As a consequence of the blast he sustained wounds, and was confined at St.
Lukes Hospital in Quezon City. Because of the injuries he sustained, hehad to walk with
the aidof crutches for a periodof time.
From his bed at St. Lukes, Mel issued his statement:
The gory incident last night and its murderous proportions reveal a heightened atmosphere of
violence in our society. Even madmen will be drawn into reckless deeds when the leadership of the
community seems helpless or indifferent in maintaining peace and order. Nothing happens in total
isolation: violence begets more violence. The violence of private armies the death of young
demonstrators in the streets ironically at the hands of government forces, the many massacres
unresolved, were painfully and cruelly dramatized in Plaza Miranda last night. I hope the people
will now respond in full unity to pin the social blame upon the present leadership for its dreadful
failure to instill respect for law and order (The Manila Times. 1971).
Melanio Singson lost his senatorial bid, he placed 10
th
out of the 16 candidates.
As of 5 p.m. December 26, 1971 he garnered a total of 3,126,966 votes (The Philippines
Herald, 1971).
56
RETIREMENT FROM POLITICS AND DEATH
After a fulfilled life serving not only the people of Isabela but also the country by
virtue of the various positions he held in the government, he returned to the practice of
his law profession- his first love. Even at his deathbed at St. Lukes Hospital at Quezon
City, clients came seeking for his legal advice. His daughter tells that
He practiced law at that time, he was in his early 70s, even in his deathbed a lot of his clients still
came. People from Isabela went to him for legal advice, hismind back then was still very sharp.
In addition, despite his old age and before getting sick, he travelled to Kalinga, Apayao
and Ifugao to meet his clients. According to his daughter:
He was preparing (for his eventual death and money) for my mother who never worked in her life,
my father told my mother Im doing this for you, if I go ahead youll have money, I do not want
you to be begging.
His daughter adds:
Daddy, once again accepted legal cases that brought him to various provinces in the country. As
when he started as a new practicing lawyer, the diligence, industry, and dedication to his profession
remained the same as he was getting older. [Moreover, his daughter relates that what mattered
most to him was to win the cases he handled]. J udges were intimidated by him because at certain
points in the trial of the cases he would lecture themon legal principles and the like, [his daughter
relates].
In addition to this, Aurora shares:
New lawyers in Isabela came to him for legal advice and rising political figures in the province
sought his help and advice. There was the so-called Singson Day in the various courts in Isabela
as all his cases were heard in one sala from morning to afternoon.
At this point in his life, he became preoccupied with the things he missed doing
during his busy days such as golf, spending time with his wife, children and
grandchildren and he also chronicled all photographs in albums from his first stint as
governor, congressman, undersecretary and eventually Secretary of J ustice.
Everything was going well until Mel was diagnosed with liver cirrhosis.
According to his daughter:
Wala siyang bisyo. Ang analysis nang doctor nung mga araw na kumakandidato siya he went to the
barrios and ate something. Usually, nakukuha yan sa unsanitary food preparation, yung virus raw or
57
bacteria nang ganung sakit nag-iincubate sa katawan nang tao for 20 years bago maging full blown
na sakit. Eventually namatay siya sa St. Lukes noong J anuary 27, 1992
When asked about her fathers lasting legacies, she replied:
His good name. He tried his best to live an honest life, his principles and reputation were
unquestionable. He lived a life that was a model not only to us his children but to others as well. He
lived what he preached.
In addition, Aurora added that his legacy is his unquestionable honesty and
extreme dedication to duty, in his years of service with the government, he did not get
rich. Moreover, he lived up to his principles when,
During Martial Law, Daddy was offered to become one of the Supreme Court J ustices; he turned it
down because he was strongly against Martial Law. Even though he was friends with Marcos,
Daddy stood by the principles he believed in. To serve with dedication, integrity and honesty, those
where the principles he believed in and practiced in whatever public office he served.
This was shown by Dione M. Fallarmes article in the Valley Times which said
that there were talks that he would have beenaJ usticeof theSupreme Court under then
President Ferdinand Marcos, only he chose to standby his principles in the face of such
temptation (Fallarme, 1987).
Aurora supplemented, His loyalty was remarkable, as a politician he was an LP
through and through, they called him an LP stalwart. He never changed parties during his
life time. He never did and they respected him for that.
He was also commended for his incorruptibleness:
Governor Melanio T. Singson of Isabela is by right a model public official in Isabela. This should
serve as a model for Nueva Vizcaya and Cagayan. He may not accept rewards for setting good
example worth-while to be followed but he proves that he is a fit public servant in many ways
(Valley Times, 1964).
In addition, such character and praises given to Mel did not only come fromhis
friends and family but also fromthose who lived during his time as a public servant. This
is proven by the interviews conducted with the constituents of Isabela that experienced
his service first hand. Mel is known to the people not only as a good and cleanpolitician
58
with uncompromising principles who had conscientiously worked for the development of
Isabela, but also as a brilliant lawyer. His good name is etched in the memory of some
Isabelinos.
In relation to this, Ma. Alicia Tumaneng, 59 years of age and a stenographer from
Ilagan, Isabela, states that Mel was an honest, efficient and kind person. As a politician
he has an uncompromising adherence to moral and ethical principles. Furthermore,
Bonita Salvador, 72 years of age and a seamstress from Calamagui 2
nd
, Ilagan, Isabela
tells a similar story:
Ang pagkakakilala ko sa kanya, isa siyang matuwid na public servant, wala kang maririnig na kahit
na anong anomalya na kanyang kinasangkutan, magaling na abogado at mabuting asawa at ama sa
kanyang 10 anak.
In addition, Aurelia Ludriguito, 60 years of age and a government employee from
Ilagan, Isabela, added that he was a brilliant lawyer, God-fearing and a disciplinarian.
Moreover, as governor his projects underwent a screening committee before
implementation which directly reflects his efficiency and competence as a public servant.
Aurelia Lodriguito tells that as a public servant he was honest and dedicated to his work.
This is reiterated in an interview with Rosalina Queri, 70 years of age and currently a
Barangay Secretary of Alibagu, Ilagan, Isabela. She also adds that:
As governor, all projects of the government, before implementation, passed in the hands of a
screening committee known as the Committee on Awards and there were no shady deals or
whatever irregularity that occurred, since he was fair and democratic in dealing with his colleagues
in the Provincial Board.
Mel is also praised for his management of the provinces affairs, Tumaneng
shares that:
Napakahusay[niyang mamalakad], sa kanya ko natutuhan at lagi kong sinasabi pati na sa mga anak
ko na ang lahat ng tao ay pantay-pantay, walang mayaman at mahirap. Ito ang hindo ko
malilimutan na ginawa ni Melanio Singson sa mga preso noon. Lagi niyang binibisita ang mga ito
at lagging tinatanong [ang] bawat isa sa kanila kung tinatrato sila nang maayos ng mga security
59
guards. At kung mahirap ka man, inaasikaso ka niya pag pinupuntahan siya sa bahay man o sa
opisina. Malinis ang pamamahala niya. Hindi siya naging kurakot dahil batid naming na siya ay
maka-diyos. Mahusay siyang makihalo-bilo sa mga tao niya. Maihahanay noon ang Isabela na isa
sa maayos, tahimik , malinis at maasensong probinsya noong termino niya.
In addition, Tumaneng spoke of the transparency in his government and that he never
was a dictator. Before any action was taken in any issue, he sought the opinion of other
members of the Provincial Board. Furthermore she recalled that Maayos at walang
anumang alitan o hidwaan sa pagitan nilang magkakasama. Ang tema ng kanyang
pamamahala ay Keep Isabela Moving Forward.
Moreover, apart from his integrity as a public servant his competence is also very
well etched in the memory of Isabelinos. This was reflected in an interview with
Rosalinda N. Queri, who had worked with Mel for a long period of time. Way back in
1963, she first worked as a stenographer for the provincial government. She had been his
stenographer in his stints as governor and congressman. Likewise, when Mel was
appointed as the OIC-Governor after the EDSA Revolution, Queri was called on to be
part of his staff. Moreover, she also worked and helped Mel in his private practice for 7
years. According to her, she prepared his pleadings, and appealed briefs and related
works. As a member of Mels staff during his stint as a congressman, she recalls:
Duringhis sessions in Congress, whenever he interpolated or argued for or in defense of a bill, his
colleagues and people at the Congress gallery watched and listened in awe and admiration because
Cong. Singson was a brilliant speaker. And we, members of his staff, often sneaked out of the
office just to listen to him. We also basked in reflected glory, especially in some celebrated cases in
which he chaired the powerful Committee on Good Government.
Furthermore, Melanio T. Singsonis also seen as a relevant figure in the history of
Isabela by the respondents, given that he served key positions in both provincial and
national governments. Ma. Alicia Tumaneng agreed to the notion that he is indeed
important as he had set many good and exemplary projects in our province. According
to Mrs. Bonita Salvador, she sees him as someone who has marked his name in the
provinces history given that he was the very first Isabelino to be appointed as
60
Undersecretary and later on as Secretary of J ustice. In relation to this, Rosalina Queri
adds that:
Napakaimportanteng kasama siya sa kasaysayan ng. His reputation was unblemished, no corruption
or immorality issues and his conduct in office is worthy of emulation. He was the first Isabelino
who wasappointed to the position of Undersecretary, then Secretary of J usticein 1965.
Aside from his programs and policies, Mel has also touched peoples lives in one
way or another. Such is the case of Ms. Queri. Not only did she serve multiple positions
during Mels stint as a politician and as a lawyer, but he was also her first employer. She
shares:
I noticed everything in his office and that of the staff was spic and span, no clutter on desktops,
books and equipment were well-arranged and it seemed the most wholesome environment to work.
Every morning before typing we spruced up our typewriters, no specks of dust to be seen, and the
keys of our typewriters were well-brushed before and after using them, then properly covered
before we leave the office at the end of the day.
In all offices I worked with after my stint in the office of the Governor and later in the House of
Representatives, I always made it a point to clean the typewriter and maintain neatness in the letters
I type because they are reflections of me and I always give my work the best shot.
I amnow 70 years old, a senior citizen, working as Barangay Secretary of Alibagu, Ilagan, Isabela
and my commitment to my job and my being a perfectionist are the best legacies I learned from my
first and best employer ever, the Honorable Melanio T. Singson.
Apart from his legacies he was also known for his important contributions to the
province. Salvador shares that her husband was a barangay captain when Mel was first
elected Governor, and through Mel her barangay was given a multipurpose pavement
which greatly benefited the constituents within the vicinity. Furthermore, she added that
his creation of towns such as Benito Soliven, Delfin Albano and San Isidro are one of his
important contributions. Additionally, Tumaneng noted that some of his most important
contributions were keeping the peace and order and the integrity with which he
conducted his affairs.
In addition, Queri also noted that a number of his projects were noteworthy such
as the creation of towns in Isabela, together with infrastructure projects like the
61
Galibubon overflow bridge in J ones, Isabela and flood control projects in several
municipalities.
62
CONCLUSION
This research on the biography of Melanio T. Singson is not the entirety of his life
nor his persona. No singular work can wholly describe the life that Mel had lived. His life
can be written and interpreted in many ways, this research being one of many. To write a
coherent story of an individual is an illusion and is an impossible feat. The research is
able to present a dimension of his life that was derived from various streams of sources
such as articles that appeared in newspapers, magazines, books and interviews with his
daughter and some constituents of Isabela.
The findings of this research in relation to his accomplishments and contributions
to Isabela are divided into five separate fields namely: livelihood and economic
programs, social welfare, infrastructure, environment, and governance.
Based on the discussion presented Mel was truly a leader who made his concern
and labor for his beloved province felt in each and every aspect of Isabelas life.
Collaborating with non-government organizations, community development was
given proper attention such as the spring project. The project enabled the people to have
access to clean and potable drinking water. In addition, opportunities for the
establishment of cottage industries were made possible. Having access to water people
could grow vegetables at their backyards either for consumption or trade. Poultry and
swine raising also became profitable sources of income(Manila Bulletin, 1963).
Economic development was also pursued. The organization of the Isabela
Provincial Economic Development was a collaboration between the provincial
government and technocrats from various fields. Its purpose was to create realistic and
feasible solutions to Isabelas problems.
63
As congressman, he authoredmany bills some of which were made into laws such
as the R.A. No. 5326An act amending Republic Act No. 3470 which states that cottage
industries shall be owned and operated by Filipino citizens, or by a corporation,
partnership or cooperative, at least seventy-five per cent of the capital or investment of
which is owned by a Filipino citizen (Lawphil.net). This law can be seen as greatly
beneficial for the Filipino entrepreneur as he/she is exempted from taxes for a period of
five years not exceeding sales worth of P 200,000.00. This law encouraged
entrepreneurship and the use of Filipino products in manufacturing goods. It stated that
seventy-five per cent of the total cost of raw materials utilized in the production or
manufacture of cottage industry products should consists of rawmaterials of Philippine
origin (Lawphil.net).
Studies were conducted with the help of various government offices and non-
government organizations to improve the agricultural output of the province. Aside from
these, veterinary services were also provided to raisers and breeds of poultry and cattle.
In addition, an animal breeding station was established in the municipality of Quezon,
Isabela by virtue of R.A. 5231. We can therefore say that the welfare of the common folk
was triumphantly pursued through his unwavering efforts.
In the field of social welfare, Mel co-authored R.A. 5416 which established the
Department of Social Welfare, the present-day Department of Social Welfare and
Development (DSWD). Its main task was to launch development and social welfare
programs such as the:
Prevention and remedial programs and services for individuals, families and communities;
protective, remedial and development welfare services for children and youth; vocational
rehabilitation and related services for the physically handicapped, ex-convict and individuals with
special needs and training and research and special projects(lawphil.net).
64
This lawwas created in order to address the poor living conditions of Filipinos through a
comprehensive program; likewise this was also enacted for the purpose of facilitating the
integration of the cultural minorities to the state (chanrobles.com).
In order to address the problems of education such as the shortage of classrooms
and other financial woes, the provincial government extended its arms. A number of
classrooms and school buildings were constructed during his administration. Also,
scholarships were granted for the less fortunate and deserving. In exchange the returned
grantees were to serve in any school in the province for two years, hence, addressing the
need for more school teachers.
Aside from these, he also protected teachers, giving them security of tenure,
academic freedom, compensation such as criteria for salaries and the like.
The issue of health was also addressed as a contagious disease pavilion was
constructed. In addition, medical equipment was obtained and additional medical
positions were created to broaden the health services that the province was already
offeringearly on. Moreover, a health station inPalanan, Isabela was constructed by virtue
of R.A. 5342 which authorized the construction of a small hospital of not more than
twenty-five bed-capacity for the management of common medical and maternity cases
and surgical emergencies requiring ordinarily a short period of confinement
(philippinelaw.info). This hospital was created in order to cater the health needs of the
people of Palanan, who werethenisolated due to geographic circumstances.
Measures in land distribution were also made. This was done so that the landless
peasant couldfinally have his own field to tend. No longer wouldhe be tied to the bonds
of his landlord.
65
To ensure that further developments would bring the province to immeasurable
economic growth, Mel also focused on construction of public works. Feeder roads, farm-
to-market roads, bridges and drying facilities were built to address the concerns of
transportation and agricultural sectors. Infrastructures as mentioned earlier were built
with the purpose of fostering the growth of Isabelas main industries namely: agriculture,
mining, and lumber. The creation of bridges and roads enabled the flow of capital, labor
and commodities from one place to another, significantly spurring the social and
economic development of the province.
Under his administration the province was also able to acquire construction
equipments and machineries. The acquisition of such technological implements was
essential for the reason that the provincial government maynowcut money spending and
increase the money it can save. Furthermore, upon acquiring the said equipment; it made
the provincial government less dependent on the central government, which used to
control the availability of equipment needed for construction before(Ingnacio, 1965: 4-
5).
To further promote the production of the agricultural industry, irrigations were
built to water hectares upon hectares of Isabelas agricultural land. It should be noted that
Isabela is one of the chief producers of agricultural products such as rice and corn. So, the
creation of irrigations and watering systems was deemed necessary.
In spite of all the modern developments and projects he carriod on, he never let
the enivroment to be put on compromise. Natural resources and the environment were
also protected. Working with Forestry officials, the provincial government fought against
loggers, kaingeros and squatters who exploited the forests resources.
66
Almost every nook and corner of Isabela was touched by Mels lofty and sincere
intentions for its progress and well-being. But one didnt have to go far to find concrete
evidence for his deep concern for his people. Through his own initiative, he was able to
increase the wages of employees under the local governments. At that time, it was the
highest recorded in the Cagayan Valley Region. This was in response to the relatively
low wages of employees, some of whom unintentionally resorted to certain immoral
practices to make ends meet. As a governor, he truly was a father of the province. He
actively fought for the welfare of the people who, like him were, public servants.
Through it, a resurgence of morality and belief in the government resurfaced and as a
consequence an honest, efficient and courteous civil service was established.
The provincial administration intensified tax collection and tax education and as a
result it yielded to higher revenues. Also, Mel was able to secure the approval for
establishing branches of the DBP, NBI and other government offices to the province.
From a perspective, this can be seen as somewhat making the people feel the presence of
the government which looks after their well-beingand bringingthe government closer to
them.
As a congressman, he created new municipalities, for the purpose of spurring
development. Those areas that used to be mere peripheries of a townwere amalgamated
to form a new independent municipality. In terms of development, it would have its
separate share from the Internal Revenue Allotment and it could collect its own taxes
from which it could derive its funds. He also authorized provincial and municipal
governments to work with private parties in projects in line with his advocacy of greater
autonomy.
67
He reinforced anti-smuggling bills and gave more teeth to certain laws, hence
deterring criminals to commit offenses against the law.
Somehow, faith was restored in the government. He served as an exemplary
leader who was honest and clean. As mentioned earlier, never in his time as a public
official was his name involved in graft and corruption. As a matter of fact, he was
disgusted by the mentality of officials who enriched themselves while in office. Being
true to his words he did not take advantage nor improve his living while in public office.
Accordingly, he never allowed a member of his family to ride his official car without him
and also used it strictly for official purpose. Unlike today, public vehicles are used by
politicians family and friends and are also parked in their homes. Because of such
examplehe was dubbed as Mr. Good Government. He worked conscientiously for the
benefit of the people of Isabela. LP Secretary General Senator Benigno Aquino was even
quotedsayingMels public record as acting secretary or/and as congressman- can stand
any test, whether it be determined to elect only good men to public office or the toughest
test of them all: the test of his own conscience (The Sunday Times, Magazine, 1971).
As a politician he did not resort to mudslinging. During campaigns he asked
judgment from the electorate on the basis of his services. Accordingly he accepted defeat
with honor and grace. He was quoted as saying I will also humbly and nobly, without
rancor or malice, accept their verdict.
As of that time upon the election of President Marcos, defection or bolting out of
the party was the trend. Rumors were circulating that he would defect to President
Marcos because they were classmates, former colleagues and friends. Mel was an
68
exception. He was loyal to his party andremained a member of the Liberal Party until his
death.
It is also important to note that aside from his salient accomplishments in the field
of politics, he was part of various civic and charitable organizations. These organizations
included the Philippine Red Cross, Rotary Club, Lions Club and the Boy Scouts of the
Philippines. As a token of appreciation for his services, he was awarded by the
organizations: the Silver Humanitarian Cross and the Aragon Medal from the Red Cross,
Bronze Tamaraw, the Silver Usa and the Saint Dominic Savio Award from the Boy
Scouts. All in all, he was a recipient of more than 50 gold, silver and bronze awards,
plaques and certificates of merit given by various national, civic and charitable
organizations.
Undoubtedly, we can therefore say that Mel is a relevant figure in the history of
Isabela. Through his valiant efforts, changes were made in the socio-political and
economic aspects of the province. Moreover, the bills he passed did not only concern the
province but also the entire country as well. It affected not only a small number of people
but a multitude of them. Furthermore, Dionne Fallarme stated that:
No doubt Governor Singson is one of Isabelas great political leaders. He may have had his lapses
and shortcomings but most Isabelinos will hold him in high esteem even after he would have
passed on to the other life. Even his most bitter political adversary at this time, who was once his
political protg, admits owing himmuch for his development as a politician. (Fallarme, 1987)
In addition to this, he occupied key positions within and outside the government
during his lifetime, which only a few had the privilege to hold. As a politician he was
held in high esteem both by the people of Isabela and his colleagues in the field of public
service. He had set numerous and exemplary projects in the province, that had benefitted
the people of Isabela.
69
Aside from his political feats, he was also known as a man of integrity and
morality as recalled by the respondents and that he has affected their lives in one way or
another. Additionally, he was not only known as a good public servant but an excellent
lawyer as well, who showed compassion especially to his poor clients. We can therefore
say that the life that Melanio T. Singson had lived was a unique oneand that he was a
product of his environment and that his actions and motivations were caused by the
environment which he lived in. And, through his actionshe hadchangedand affectedthe
province of Isabelato a point that is too compelling to ignore.
As his grandson, knowing that he had truly served the province with no
compromise gives me a sense of pride. Bearing his name and knowing his character, it
serves as a challenge to me to bear the same integrity and competence as an individual
and as a member of society. Also, it is a responsibility to immortalize his legacy and his
contributionsto the province through this study.
70
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76
APPENDIX A
PHOTOGRAPHS
Figure 1. Photograph shows the finalists in the 28
th
Annual Oratorical Contest of the U.P.
College of Law. From left to right: Fidel Sicam, J ose Calderon, Dominador La Madrid,
Gloria Villanueva, Felipe Lopez and Melanio Singson. (The Philippine Collegian, 1940).
Figure 2. THE SINGSON FAMILY- Front row, from left; Florencio, Melanio J r., Mrs.
Dolores Singson, Benjamin (on Singsons lap), ex-Rep. Melanio Singson, Lourdes
Singson Bahia, Victor. Back row: Tomas, Aurora, Alfonso, Alicia, Socorro (Weekly
Nation, 1971).
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Figure 3. Vice-President Diosdado Macapagal, national coalition campaign manager,
recently proclaimed Atty. Melanio Singson the official gubernatorial bet in Isabela during
a mammoth rally in Ilagan. Photo shows the Vice- President and House Minority Floor
Leader Ferdinand Marcos raising the hands of Singson.
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Figure 4. Photo shows Melanio T. Singson (standing fourth from left), selected as one of
the 10 Outstanding Congressmen in the year 1967 by the Philippine Free Press.
Figure 5. The photo is the official COMELEC tabulation of votes cast for the Philippine
Senate election on 1971 (Manila Bulletin, 1971).
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APPENDIX B
TRANSCRIPTIONS
Name: Aurora S. Tabangay
Occupation: Businesswoman
Address: M. Singson Ave., Calamagui 2
nd
, Ilagan, Isabela
Interviewer: Sino at ano po ang mga magulang ni lolo?
Aurora Tabangay:Ang mga magulang raw nang lolo mo, mga industrious merchants na
nagbebenta nang kumot, mga mwebles sa bahay. Very industrious daw ang
parents niya can you imagine three lawyers in the family plus a teacher. Two boys
and two girls sila.
I:Sino-sino po ang mga kamag-anak ni lolo sa Ilocos?
AT:Kamag anak ni Daddy sila Farias, Encarnacion, Villanueva, mga old families nang
Vigan. Alam mo ba close friend niya so Marcos noon, magkaklase sila sa ilang
subjects sa UP Law. Marcos, would stay in Vigan before going home to Batac.
I:Paano po napadpad si lolo sa Isabela, Auntie?
AT:Si daddy, migrant yan from Ilocos. Si Uncle Vicente municipal fiscal sa Bayombong.
Nakilala ni Daddy si Mommy dahil sa asawa ni uncle na taga Santiago rin na
close rin sa pamilya nang lolo ko. Uncle Vicente would visit my grandparents in
Santiago at dun niya nakita ang mommy ko na at that nag-dadalaga. Sinabi ni
uncle Vicente kay mommy na pag nakatapos sa pag-aabogado si daddy,
ipapaasawa raw niya siya sa kanya. Ayun, nung nag-graduate nagpakasal nga sila.
I:Eh, papaano po sila Mommy Dor at si Lolo, tsaka pano po sila bilang mag-asawa?
AT: Naalala ko si Mommy umiiyak yan, habang nilalabhan niya mga damit naming
noon, wala pa kaming kasama. Sabi ni daddy, Mommy, pasensya ka muna ha
hindi naman magiging ganito ang buhay natin forever and true to his words
because of his industry he was able to improve our lives, as we used to live
behind the old public market and by 1959 we moved to this place. My father was
a very dominant person pero may times yun na napagtatampo nang mommy ko.
Siya ang umaalis sa bed nila. Tatawagin ako para maglapag kami nang kutson
niya at dun siya matutulog. Sabi ko nga napaka dominante nang Daddy ko pero
kayang-kaya pala nang mommy ko. Siguro sensitive si daddy pag may nasasabi si
Mommy, na hindi ko akalaing ganun.Kung nagtatampo, ako ang tatawagin at
sasabihin balasang ko, lutuan mo na lang ako nang pagakain ko ha? At galit nag
alit ang mommy mo.
I: Ano naman po ang pagkatao ni lolo?
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AT:Nung abogado pa lang siya pagpobre ang kliyente niya, one time nakaharap pa nga
ako bukod sa pinakain niya na ng lunch sa bahay, ngabigay ng 50 pesos kay
daddy sabi niya hindi na mas kailangan mo yan. So, makikita mo yung
pagkatao niya na maawain, compassionate.Noong Martial Law, he went back to
the province and practiced law. Daddy made good and earned a lot from his
practice. Pag Chinese raw yung talagang rate niya ang sinsingil niya. Pag pobre
naman daw hindi na, kahit manok noon binabayad sa kanya, pero binabayaran pa
rin ni daddy noon. Through his law practice, he was well known and eventually
exposed him to the people and province of Isabela
I:Paano naman po siya as a father?
AT:At 6 oclock if you are not yet in the house, otherwise you know what comes next,
apart from discipline, cleanliness was important not only physically but
spiritually. . Mula pa noong maliliit kami cleanliness na at hygiene ang
importante, before the day starts and before going to bed. Also, humility, much so
when he was governor for the first time I remember he once said There is only
one Governor in this house and that is me, you have no privilege ganun niya
kami pinalaki noon, na hindi kami conscious na daddy was occupying a high
position, that we were nothing, although he was somebody we are not in equal
footing we were not allowed to use his car na official unless kasama siya. May
isang kotse kami noon na sundot hatid kami. But never his official car not even
my Mommy and never did my mommy go to his office for anything, except
during programs when her presence was needed ganun lang. Otherwise wala si
daddy lang ganun siya. During meals, he is conscious of table manners. Lahat ng
utensils properly used, tahimik kami pag kasama namin siyang kumakain.Kung
ayaw mong kumain ng gulay hed put it on your plate so youd eat vegetables.
You are obliged to eat that kung hindi, hindi ka niya papatayuin.
I:Papaano naman po siya as a provider?
AT:He was the best because he provided for all of us, he was considerate. Stockholder si
daddy diyan sa Saint. Ina-apply niya yung dividends niya noon sa tution fee
namin. Apart from providing our needs hindi mo masasabing may pagkukulang,
kasi binigay niya lahat nang kaya niyang ibigay whether it was a pair of shoes
kasi sa dami naming, kung bibilhan ang isa, bibilhan ang lahat He was able to
send us to the best schools.
I:Nung governor po siya may perks po ba kayo?
AT: Nung pulitiko siya obligado kami magsilbi sa mga tao pag kumakain sila. Minsan
nga na-nanonood ako nang sine tinawag ako nang driver sabi marami raw tao sa
bahay at pinapatawag raw ako ni daddy para tumulong. Ganon ang gusto niya,
kahit mga ordinaryong tao na nagpupunta sa bahay pinagsisilbihan namin.
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I:Ano po yung mga priorities ni lolo noon nung governor siya?
AT: 1st attempt niya he lost, ang nilalaban ng politicians nun qualifications, wala pang
pera-pera noon. Limitado pa ang pondo niya nun eh, yung second attempt niya
nanalo na siya overwhelming naman na. As governor he prioritized roads, feeder
roads, farm-to-market roads were his priority. Drying facilities tulad nang solar
pavements. He started the construction of a road that would go to Palanan
somewhere here in Tumauini. Tapos, yung creation nang towns.After graduating
from UP on 1969. Senator Aqunio back then was able to get 5 Filipino
scholarships to Russia,I really didnt want to go. Mga anak rin ng mga
congressman kasama ko. Sila Barbero, Lapuz. Lima kaming napili. Ang
inayawan ko talaga kaya bumalik ako rito [ay] sila lahat naka diplomatic passport,
ako lang ang ordinary. Ayaw ni daddy pe-pwede rin sana ako. Ako dun sa likod
sila sa first class. He wanted to put everything in order yung tama lang, hindi ako
nagtagal.
I:Ano pa po yung ibang mga posisyon na hinawakan ni lolo noon?
AT: He was supposed to be appointed as executive secretary, pero iba pala ang manok ni
Eva Macapagal, later on he was first made as Undersecretary of J ustice and then
eventually became the Acting Secretary of J ustice before he was made to run for
Congress. Andiyan na yung eroplano sa Cauayan noon eh, hinihintay na lang
yung pagluwas naming lahat, buong pamilya, biglang may tumawag.
I:May mga narinig po ba kayong mga salita na against kay lolo?
AT: In politics I never head anybody say Daddy was corrupt, because kung may projects
binubuhos niya talaga. Wala naman silang masabi noon kundi personal. Mommy
ko daw hindi marunong ngumiti wala eh kamo noon ang inaantake. Kung
nakikinig kami noon sa radio sabi ni daddy wag na kaming makinig. Wala
namang nagsabi na nagnakaw ang daddy ko. Yung nagloan pa siya para sa bahay
sa Manila. Tignan nila ang records na nasa GSIS na matagal niyang binayaran
yun, kasi nagmintis siya. He had to sell our house in Kamias to pay for that. When
he ran for senator he sold other properties. Wala naman siyang pera kaya
kailangan niyang magbenta for his camapaign.
I:After po nang stint niya as a politician ano po yung mga pinagkaablahan niya?
AT: Last na position ni daddy nun ay as OIC-Governor aftern nun he once again
accepted legal cases that brought him to various provinces in the country like
Kalinga, Apayao and Ifugao. As when he started as a new practicing lawyer, the
diligence, industry, and dedication to his profession remained the same as he was
getting older. When he was younger, J udges were intimidated by him because at
certain points in the trial of the cases he would lecture them on legal principles
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and the like. New lawyers in Isabela came to him for legal advice and rising
political figures in the province sought his help and advice. There was the so-
called Singson Day in the various courts in Isabela as all his cases were heard in
one sala from morning to afternoon.He was also preparingfor my mother who
never worked in her life, my father told my mother Im doing this for you, if I go
ahead youll have money, I do not want you to be begging.
I:Ano naman po ang naging cause of death ni lolo?
AT: Liver cirrohsis, wala siyang bisyo. Ang analysis nang doctor nung mga araw na
kumakandidato siya he went to the barrios and ate something. Usually, nakukuha
yan sa unsanitary food preparation, yung virus raw or bacteria nang ganung sakit
nag-iincubate sa katawan nang tao for 20 years bago maging full blown na sakit.
Eventuallynamatay siya sa St. Lukes noong J anuary 27, 1992
I:Auntie, sa tingin niyo po ano po yung legacy ni lolo?
AT: His good name. He tried his best to live an honest life, his principles and reputation
were unquestionable. He lived a life that was a model not only to us his children
but to others as well. He lived what he preached.During Martial Law, daddy was
offered to become one of the Supreme Court J ustices; he turned it down because
he was strongly against Martial Law. Even though he was friends with Marcos,
Daddy stood by the principles he believed in. His loyalty was remarkable, as a
politician he was an LP through and through, they called him an LP stalwart. He
never changed parties during his life time. He never did and they respected him
for that To serve with dedication, integrity and honesty, those where the principles
he believed in and practiced in whatever public office he served
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Name: Rosalina N. Queri
Age: 70
Occupation: Barangay Secretary Alibagu, Ilagan, Isabela
Interviewer: Paano ninyo po ba nakilala si Melanio T. Singson?
Rosalina Queri: I started working in the service of the Government, particularly in the
office of Honorable Melanio T. Singson, Provincial Governor of Isabela in 1963
as a stenographer. Then as a provincial based stenographer 4 months later. Then I
had a brief stint in the Office of the Agrarian Council for 11 months before the
newly elected Congressman of the Lone District of Isabela called me to work as
his stenographer in his office in Congress in 1965-1969. Then when he was
designated as OIC-Governor in 1966-1988 after the EDSA Revolution, he called
me again to join his staff at the Provincial Capitol of Isabela for 18 months. So for
8 years, I had the occasion to work for Hon. Melanio Singson in public service.
Later, in his law office, during Saturdays and Sundays, I also worked for him
helping preparing his pleadings, appeal briefs and related work in his private
practice of law for 7 years. So I had the occasion to know the man.
I: Ano po ba ang pagkakakilala niyo sa kanya?
RQ: Governor Melanio Singson was a well known and revered leader in the Province of
Isabela and later as Representative of the Lone District of Isabela in 1965-1969.
He distinguished himself as a consistent Most Outstanding Congressman of
Isabela in his 4-year term. Before his election as Congressman in 1965, he was
appointed Undersecretary of J ustice by then President Diosdado Macapagal, not
only because of his integrity and probity but also because he was considered the
Best Legal Luminary in Isabela.
Kilala ko rin siya bilang isang mahusay na tao. He is very bright. During his sessions in
Congress, whenever he interpolated or argued for or in defense of a bill, his
colleagues and people at the Congress gallery watched and listened in awe and
admiration because Congressman Singson was a brilliant speaker. And we
members of his staff, often sneaked out of office just to listen to him. We also
basked in reflected glory, especially in some celebrated cases in which he chaired
the powerful Committee on Good Government.
He is among the ranks of popular names, you know. His best friends were: Senator Gerry
Roxas, Senator J ovito Salonga, Senator Ninoy Aquino who frequented our office.
Famous personalities came to interview him such as J ose Guevarra of the
Philippine Free Press, Kerima Polatan, Teodoro Locsin and others.
I: Nakikita mo bang importanteng tao siya sa kasaysayan ng Isabela?
RQ: Napakaimportanteng kasama siya sa kasaysayan ng Isabela. His reputation was
unblemished, no corruption issues or immorality and his conduct in office is
worthy of emulation. He was the first Isabelino who was appointed to the position
of Undersecretary, then Secretary of J ustice in 1965. As a governor, all projects of
the government, before implementation, passed in the hands of a screening
committee known as the Committee on Awards and there were no shady deals
or whatever irregularity that occurred, since he was fair and democratic in dealing
with his colleagues in the Provincial Board.
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I: Bilang isang pulitiko, ano ang masasabi mo sa paraan niya ng pagpapalakad at
pagpapatakbo ng probinsya?
RQ: May transparency sa pamamalakad niya at hindi siya naging diktador dahil
sumasangguni siya sa mga kasama sa Provincial Board bago isagawa ang isang
bagay. Maayos at walang anumang alitan o hidwaan sa pagitan nilang
magkakasama. Ang tema ng kanyang pamamahala ay Keep Isabela Moving
Forward.
I: Did he personally affect you in anyway?
RQ: Yes, very much! As my first employer in the public service when Governor Melanio
first talked to me as as he scanned my information sheet or resume and after
reading the essay that I wrote 10 minutes earlier than his interview, he asked me:
Did you really write this? Yes, sir, was my answer. Then he said, How
would you like to stay in my office? How could I have refused a Governor
offering me a job?
I: Kamusta naman po yung inyong karanasan sa pgtratrabaho para sa kanya?
RQ: I noticed everything in his office and that of the staff was spic and span, no clutter
on desktops, books and equipment well-arranged and it seemed the most
wholesome environment to work in. Every morning before typing we spruced up
our typewriters, no specks of dust to be seen and the keys of our typewriters were
well-brushed before and after using them, then properly covered before we leave
the office at the end of the day. So in all offices I worked with after my stint in the
Office of the Governor and later in the House of Representatives, I always made it
a point to clean the typewriter and maintain neatness in letters I type because they
are reflections of me and I always give my work the best shot. I am not 70 years
old, a senior citizen, working as Barangay Secretary of Alibagu and my
commitment to my job and my being a perfectionist are the best legacies I learned
from my first and best employer ever the Hon. Melanio T. Singson!
I: Sa inyong palagay, ano ang mga kanyang naging importanteng kontribusyon sa
Isabela?
RQ: His noteworthy contributions in the history of Isabela were the creation of the
municipalities of Benito Soliven, Magsaysay which is now known as Delfin
Albano, and San Isidro, Isabela. Several infrastructure projects like the Dalibubob
Overflow bridge in J ones, Isabela and flood control projects in several
municipalities were constructed duringhis term.
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Name: Bonita Salvador
Age: 70
Occupation: Seamstress
Interviewer: Paano ninyo po nakikilala si Melanio T. Singson?
Bonita Salvador: Kasalukuyang barangay captain ang aking asawa ng maging
Gobernador ng Probinsya si Kagalang-galang Melanio T. Singson.
I: Ano po ang pagkakakila ninyo sa kanya?
BS: Ang pagkakakilala ko sa kanya ay isa siyang matuwid na public servant. Wala kang
maririnig na kahit na anong anomalya na kanyang kinasangkutan, magaling na
abogado at mabuting asawa at ama sa kanyang 10 supling.
I: Nakikita mo bang importanteng tao siya sa kasaysayan ng Isabela?
BS: Oo. Siya ang kauna-unahang Isabelino na nailagay sa posisyon na Undersecretary.
Pagkatapos Secretary of J ustice noong 1965. Bilang gobernador, lahat ng
poryekto niya sa gobyerno bago ipatupad, dumadaan muna sa isang kumite na
nagbabantay sa mga proyekto ng probinsya.
I: Bilang isang pulitiko, ano ang masasabi mo sa paraan niya ng pagpapalakad at
pagpapatakbo ng probinsya?
BS: Isa siyang tapat, mabuting pulitiko sa kanyang sinasakupan. May dedikasyon sa
kanyang trabaho at may prinsipyo sa kanyang pagkatao at higit sa lahat hindi siya
naging diktador sa kahit anong paraan.
I: Maliban ditto, sa inyong palagay, ano po kanyang naging mga importanteng
kontribusyon sa Isabela?
BS: Unang-una, sa barangay na sinasakupan ng aking asawa, nabigyan ng multi-purpose
pavement na ginagamit ng aming buong mamamayan. Mayroon din siyang mga
lugar na ginawang munisipalidad.
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Name: Ma. Alicia Tumaneng
Age: 59
Occupation: Stenographer
Interviewer: How do you know Melanio T. Singson?
Ma. Alicia Tumaneng: I have know Hon. Melanio T. Singson as an honest, efficient and
kind person. As a politician, he has an uncompromising adherence to moral and
ethical principles. And as a father, he is a good provider, loving, and God-fearing
man. HE is strict but in a right manner. He is a disciplinarian and that is
manifested in all his children at present.
I: Do you see him as an important and relevant figure in the course of history of Isabela?
MAT: Yes, he had set many good and exemplary projects in our province.
I: Ano naman po ang masasabi ninyo sa paraan niya ng pagpapalakad ng probinsya?
MAT: Napakahusay! Sa kanya ko natutuhan at lagi kong sinasabi pati na sa mga anak ko
na, ang lahat ng tao ay pantay-pantay, walang mayaman at mahirap. Ito ang
hindi ko malilimutan na ginawa ni Melanio Singson sa mga preso noon. Lagi
niyang binibisita ang mga ito at laging tinatanong bawat isa sa kanila kung
trinatrato sila ng maayos ng mga security guards. At kung mahirap ka man,
inaasikaso ka niya pag pinupuntahan siya sa bahay man o sa opisina. Malinis ang
pamamahala niya. Hindi siya naging kurakot dahil batid naming sa siyay Maka-
Diyos. Mahusay siyang makihalo-bilo sa mga tao niya. Maihahanay noon ang
Isabela na isa sa maayos, matahimik, malinis at maasenong probinsya noong
kanyang termino.
I: Sa inyo po bang palagay, ano ang kanyang importanteng kontribusyon sa Isabela?
MAT: Ang katahimikan, peace and order, at integrity.
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Name: Aurelia Lodriguito
Age: 60
Occupation: Government Employee
Interviewer: How do you know Melanio T. Singson as a person or figure in Isabela?
Aurelia Lodriguito: He is a brilliant lawyer, God-fearing and disciplinarian. He is a
former Congressman and Governor of Isabela.
I: Do you see him as an important figure in the history of Isabela?
AL: Yes, because he served as Congressman and Governor of Isabela honestly and
dedicated public servant.