Freedom fighter Al Yuchengco, tunay na bayani



IN the late Senator Jovy Salonga’s newsletter (vol. 10, Kilosbayan No. 6, February 2003) which I had retrieved following Al Yuchengco’s passing, I re-read the following:

“The Passion for Excellence in Everything We Do; We Must Strive for Perfection” by Ambassador Alfonso T. Yuchengco:

“It is the unwavering commitment to provide Filipinos with excellent financial products and services that drives RCBC.

“It is our adherence to standards no less than ideal that moves us to seek and develop innovative banking ideas. To go beyond mere customer satisfaction, and respond creatively to every need.

“Today, RCBC continues to harness its diverse resources to provide more comprehensive, more personal answers to the demands of today’s customers. Reaffirming our commitment of premier service for the Filipino banking public, to help fulfill the Filipino dream.”

If this be a commercial, so be it. Ambassador Al, a dreamer and doer.

The tiny tsismoso human rights community first heard of him in 1980, as one in vigorous opposition to martial misrule, with Ramon Diaz (urban legend linked them to the Light-A-Fire case, which FLAG and MABINI handled).

Like Jimmy V. Ongpin, who we saw from afar. In awe.

Businessmen are said to be usually conservative, as they have a lot to conserve. (They make money when blood is running in the streets, a time to buy, said Baron Rothschild.)

Do try to visit the Yuchengco Auditorium in the Bantayog ng mga Bayani, for more on one who belongs, truly, in the Libingan ng Mga Bayani.

I hardly met Al. One occasion was in a suit we filed in the US, which he said might have been a mistake, as juries would come up with a hometown decision. He was there in Newark, New Jersey, to help. We lost, reprising his own experience. (I was in Newark, authorized by FVR, through SolGen Raul Goco, to observe and report on the case, not as a lawyer. If I could vote, I would have opted to settle, when the jury was still out, the strong advice of Veep Manny Pelaez and Uncle Jovy Salonga who, then and there, said we had made our point; there also were Al’s insight and experience. The counsel was not heeded.)

My late wife, Dulce, might have mentioned to me that Helen, a daughter of Al, was her St. Scho classmate, if my memory is true. Dulce’s father, who I never met, rests in the Libingan ng MgaBayani. My biyenan’s name, Alfonso (Colonel, a Bataan-Capas survivor). Uncanny.

As a democrat, Al was no fan of Lee Kwan Yew.

Ting Paterno was another patriotic businessman, who asked in the 1970s why we were paying for one nuclear plant at the price of two. Of course, there was Tony Gonzalez, of Mondragon, who staked his all. Mondragon was candidate Cory Aquino’s 1985-1986 headquarters, at a time when talk was rife of Operation Mad Dog, to send us all to Carballo island, the Promised Land, or where we were told to go.

Included as a hero may be our PrezDigong, if he would talk less and listen and do more. He’s Time’s No. 1. Most influential. Cheers. But change he must, and learn from Al.

Good or bad influence? No patriot wants Digong to fail, to our common woe. Lucio Tan is not my fave (I root for the dismissed PAL personnel) but he deserves due process. So does Manny Pacquiao. I hope win-win solutions are forthcoming that our people may have a better life. Same goes for Mighty, what with the humongous figures bandied about.

Enough of Hyper-Bola as in crushing 1) the persistent drug problem; hardline has not succeeded anywhere, as Colombia, Thailand, and Myanmar have learned and admitted; 2) the resilient Abbu Sayyaf; and 3) the persnickety Abbu-Gados, from San Beda and elsewhere.

In Digong’s numerous expensive trips abroad, it seems to me he should not display our dirty linen there. He should always endeavor to be a caballero there, if anywhere. Nick Joaquin and Krip Yuson had a nice anecdote between Al and Joe McMicking, another hero in my eyes, on grace, humility and nobility.

Nick asked Al if he was happy. Al replied: “Bastante feliz.” Happy enough. Wish we could say the same after nine months of Digong and his team, with visions of distant oil wells and pies in the skies conjured.

What do we use for money? In none of the remaining trees we have do we have money growing on it.

Anyway, icons Nick and Krip wrote Ambassador Al’s bio, To Leave a Good Name. That aim Al achieved, and how, thanks to his passion for perfection, and the duo who could make words speak and spirits soar, in moments divine and rupture serene, as it were.

Which reminds me to greet longtime and valued friends Conrad and Ilene Limcaco, who mark their many-splendored 60th wedding anniv on Sunday. And Happy Bday to our only sister, Lulu.

My continuing health issues may not allow me to do more than greet, the reason I can return here only today, if only to say Al was not only about business. He did his share to end Macoy’s monkey business. Cheers!


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  1. Those terrorists are glamorized as “freedom fighters” kuno. they are terrorists fighting the Philippine government.

    Tony Gonzales of Mondragon, who produced the film “Bayan Ko” (or something) which incites hatred against the government? a left-leaning writer or director asked businessman Gonzales to produce the film, and the businessman said, “he would gladly finance it, with all his heart.”

    a dissident/communist borrowed a car from Gonzales, so that he could move freely, hide and evade faster the police who are after him. and the businessman gladly lent a car to that communist without asking anything in return. the dissident narrated this incident in the newspaper when the businessman died. i forgot him name.

    they were just using each other. if the businessman were alive today, let’s see if the businessman would still gladly lend a car to that dissident. baka murahin pa niya ito.

  2. Amnata Pundit on

    Ed Olaguer of Light-a-Fire said that this guy was one of their financiers. The families of the hundreds of victims of the Filipinas Hotel and Ambassador Hotel firebombing attacks should sue the estate of this fellow. $2Billion dollars would be fair enough, the same amount as the judgment against Marcos in that human rights case in Hawaii.