I was called “Tet” by my family. I hated that pet name, it sounded absurd. Then sometime in the 80’s, somebody named Tet Garcia became Bataan’s second district congressman. My “kababata” and even my younger brother would tease me for that similarity in pet name. It was a harmless joke but it got into my nerves; I just hated that pet name then a popular public figure had the same pet name and there was a lot of recall about it.
Before the Garcias came into the political picture in Bataan, there was the Romans. I grew up with Ding Roman as the governor and as a child, I believed in his capabilities though I had no exact idea how he worked as a public official. Tet Garcia was a newbie then in the world of politics; my parents adored him especially my mother. Then sometime in the late 90’s, his eldest son Abet became the mayor of Balanga while Tet became the governor. Years later, Gila and Joet became politicians as well and opponents said that this family started a political dynasty in Bataan. Garcia family’s supporters retorted that it was the end of the Roman dynasty. Whichever side of the political fence a person was into, the tension to the rising popularity of the Garcias could never be stopped. Their supporters loved them and were loyal to them. Their political opponents calculated and magnified their every moves.
I personally do not have a recollection about the late Tet Garcia except for the shared pet name. What I know is, he was well-loved by most of the people in Bataan. His family had something to do with the people’s affection because they knew when to mingle with the common tao. Our family was once a recipient of their “pakikiramay” when Abet, Joet and Mrs. Garcia went to my mother’s wake. Abet was in his usual friendly mood. Joet, though a little shy, let us feel his sincerity. I was at first intimidated at Mrs. Garcia but felt comfortable later on when she asked about how my mother succumbed to cancer.
I’ve always said that I would never forget the people who were with me and my family during our darkest times. The Garcias were with us then. Now, it is my turn to return the affection and concern.
Rest in peace, Congressman Tet and condolences to the whole family!