Former Baguio mayor, congressman launches book on 85th birthday

LEGACY OF SERVICE. Former Baguio mayor and congressman Bernardo Vergara and wife Gloria Asprec pose with daughter Gladys, left, former congressional staff and now city lawyer Isagani Liporada and former City Health Office staff Marix Carantes at the entrance of the Baguio Country Club Cordillera Convention Center where the former city official celebrated his 85th birthday with family and friends and launch his book One for the Road. From the FB page of ISLiporada

Former Baguio mayor and congressman Bernardo Vergara celebrated his 85th birthday Sunday with the launching of his book at the Baguio Country Club’s Cordillera Convention Center.

With his wife, the former Gloria Asprec, an architect, and his six children – James, Gladys, Vergara, Jr., Jonathan, Gayle and Glenda – and grandchildren, Vergara recalled more than 50 years of government service, more than 15 years of which were spent either as congressman or city mayor.

The birthday bash cum launching was attended too by close political allies of Vergara, supporters for years and even media who covered him during his stint as congressman and mayor.

His election in 1992 as a congressman was considered by then newly elevated mayor Mauricio Domogan as a boon for the city still recovering from the devastation of the 1990 killer earthquake that killed thousands of locals and damages amounting to hundreds of millions.

One for the Road talked about the years he spent as government engineer, a district engineer and as general manager of the Philippine Tourism Authority before seeking an elective post in the city in 1989.

In the introduction, Vergara said that coming out with a book “to chronicle my public life has not been a bed of roses.”

He added that: “The usual thorns are really coming to the fore as One for the Road traces my steady rise from a lowly government engineer, to a District Engineer, later on as General Manager of the Philippine Tourism Authority, then rendered jobless by EDSA (Revolution), and forthwith as a public servant serving the people the nation’s favorite tourist destination, the City of Baguio.”

He said One for the Road “has been a labor of love for all those who actively sought to bring about something that future leaders, including our youth, can learn from,…”

Vergara, which considers the book as a gift from his family to him, said the book “is not just about me but more about the journey I travelled long and wide to be what I have become in the service of the nation, our city, and our people.”

He added: “humbled by what the book has chronicled, do indulge me the honor to offer is as a gift to our people.”

He said that it is all about service which is his “humble legacy for Baguio and for our people. It is a legacy that I hope in all humility to serve as a wellspring of inspiration for aspiring and emerging leaders in generations next.”

His election in 1992 as a congressman was considered by then newly elevated mayor Mauricio Domogan as a boon for the city still recovering from the devastation of the 1990 killer earthquake that killed thousands of locals and damages to hundreds of millions.

Domogan recalled that it was a partnership that went beyond the parties they ran under but the desire to serve the city still reeling from the earthquake.

The city’s Dynamic Duo of Batman and Robin started and the rebuilding ensued that saw the city transform to what it is now.

“Mr. Bulldozer” found ways to procure funds for the city’s rehabilitation even going every early to the offices or residences of key officials to secure the funding needed for city infrastructures, said eldest daughter Gladys Vergara –de Vera, who served as a staff for the then congressman who brings the project proposal for approval of key national government officials.

She said that Vergara and Domogan would deliberately lose games of golf to then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo so that she will be more than happy to agree to requests that the two will make after the game.

“The president will be very happy and will agree to any project proposal my dad will make,” said Vergara – de Vera, with her as the one who is waiting at the club house bringing the project proposal.

The former Sangguniang Kabataan chairman and councilor, said that launching of the book was delayed due to the pandemic and the former congressman wants it done last year fearing that he will die before it get released which makes it “useless”.

Mayor Benjamin Magalong, who was a city police director and police regional director of the Cordillera during the long Vergara service, acknowledged Vergara’s valuable advice when he sought public office in 2019 and that is “teach him not to win but how to serve the people he intends to govern.”

Vergara ran and lost against lawyer Honorato Aquino in 1989 and lost but turned the table against the president Corazon Aquino ally in 1992. He won the next two elections then ran as mayor in 2001 with Domogan taking the congressional seat. The two won with councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda as vice mayor.

In 2004, however, he lost to retired judge Braulio Yaranon then lost anew in 2007 to Reinaldo Bautista, Jr.

Vergara returned as congressman in 2010, but suffered defeat in 2012 to former councilor Nicasio Aliping, Jr. Rep. Marques Go was elected in 2015 and is now serving for the third and final term. Pigeon Lobien



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