Bayanihan Media Awards National Winner

Tribute to Cong Tarzan

He is supposed to be 90 today if he were still around.

Once the good old man of politics — not just in Angeles City but in Pampanga province.

Years before being part of a team of writers of his book, I wrote a column article in Sun. Star Pampanga.

It was written on October 2012 when wild rumors where circulating about his health. So many were churning up the mills to picture Apung Tarzan to be so sick back then. The article, based on my own observations of him, somehow disproved that.

The opinion piece was even met by a not-so-in favor reaction from the Pamintuan camp back then. I fully understood that, as the late many-termer Congressman and mayor was aiming at the mayorship in the elections to be held eighth months ahead.

The rest was history.

Apung Tarzan is the father of Mabalacat Cityhood, the father of many resettlement centers. These two things alone are more than hefty accomplishments.

Described by his very loyal lieutenant and now chief tactician of soon Cong Pogi Lazatin to be a “cute article”, here below is a piece I wrote for a man we will always remember:


What’s on Apung Tarzan’s Plate?

Don’t be deceived now but this piece would not have anything to do about the figuratives. Unless, of course, someone (mis)interprets it.

It’s about the literal plate of Cong. Carmelo “Tarzan” Lazatin.

Me and my media colleagues happen to chance on him in one of the big malls this past week.

Lounging around. Relaxed. Seated on a chair by one of the food kiosks near a cinema, Apung Tarzan may look pale and thinner (than the old figure I have known of him). But is he indeed sick?

Wearing his fiery red shirt underneath a water-repellant black jacket with matching black pants and hat ala Bruno Mars, the good old man in Angeles politics simply looked cool. The trademark gray beard made him looked to be in his usual self. Confident, soft spoken, unmindful if not undisturbed.

But more than his get-up, I could not help but notice what was served in front of him – a paperbag of chicharon and bottled water.

Yummy sodium snack looked just so enticing that me and Ashley Manabat gave in. Before we knew it, we were finding ourselves dipping some cuts on white vinegar. Mentor Bong Lacson was determined not to be tempted, citing the alta-presyon to be a cause not to indulge.

So, we exchanged not only the juiciest of the bites but also the flavor of the season – politics. A lot of it is better left unprinted out of respect for the man (and his opponents too) notwithstanding the sensitivities, the sensibilities.

Lunch time struck, before we knew it.
Not that we took advantage of the kindness of now wanna-be-mayor-again of Angeles City, but the chit-chats just went on to the unholy hour. Chief of staff and ever-smile-on-the face IC Calaguas echoed the offer of Apung Tarzan to grab something heavier to fill the tummy aside from the pork snack.

We trooped to a smorgasboard resto downstairs. Apung Tarzan noticeably kept pace with our cadence with no one trying to give him a hand as we walked. He even went farther as he chose to take a leak first before eating. He joined us at a long table in less than five minutes.

Eat all you can, as they say it.

At first, I had to pick veggies and fish to satisfy my hunger and thus fill me up before I lay my eyes and hands on rich but unhealthy foods that were pulling me.

But what I, the forty-something me,  was eating compared to 78- year old comebacking mayor?

I am almost half of his age but my calorie in-take was not even half his.

What was on his plate? Humor me now but the man has good appetite – kare-kare, tocino, and another viand that looked like another meat to me. There were some veggies too plus rice of course.

Not only that, Apung Tarzan also had a plateful of pork litson which he passed around to us with matching pitch of satisfaction “mangan ko kanini, manyaman ya.”

And so I indulged, with commands to myself: go exercise later and burn the calories.

And so I ate rich foods too, with thoughts: “I’ve just been cleared (in very recent executive check up), why deprive myself?”

And so I had those foods too, raising observation: “If I’m healthy to partake of that, Apung Tarzan must be too.”

He must feel like a growing boy.

The writer with Apung Tarzan and sons Pogi and Jonjon.