August 28, 2010

Remembering Kagawad Osting

Kagawad Osting would have been 82 today had he not succumbed to a liver ailment on February 27 at the turn of the century. No, I did not write this because I remembered him on his birthday today. I remember him all the time. If I will write of things about him every time I remember him, I will never be able to do any other thing for the rest of my life; for there are many sides to the life of Kagawad Osting worth writing theses about. It will probably be a breeze for my older siblings to recall and write about his early life in Bohol, his birthplace; and his earlier sojourn to this place which then had just called itself General Santos. Me, I always associate him with his being a farmer (and a gardener!) and a public servant (the original meaning of "government official") at the same time.

You find that hard to believe? How can one be a farmer and a government official at the same? My Grade 3 teacher could not believe it either. She had our class bring some farming/gardening tools to school and I was assigned to bring a pala (shovel/spade). I failed to bring in one the next day because, I reasoned out, the tool was being used by my father. My teacher could not hold back her exasperated wonder: "Ano'ng ginapala ng tatay mo sa city hall (What's your father using a shovel for at city hall)?". I had forgiven my teacher for her momentary ignorance.

Kagawad Osting in one of his stints as acting mayor of Gensan

Kagawad Osting was a farmer. During his prime, he had in the backyard of his household a Green Revolution. His farm in the barrio was planted to coconuts, vegetables and a staple of corn (maize), sorghum, cotton and tobacco, season in season out. Kagawad Osting was a also public servant. He had served the government in many capacities - from being a barangay captain (teniente del barrio), a city councilor, to being acting mayor of General Santos City on a few occasions. Ask me not how he was able perform such multi-roles (including being the head of his household) for I cannot provide you a definite answer. All I know is that Kagawad Osting's life had always been driven by industry and diligence. One moment I see him weeding and felling "excess" vegetation in his backyard; the next he is on a tricycle/pedicab going to city hall.

When I am in General Santos City I remember Kagawad Osting. When I see the big building that is the City Hall, I remember Kagawad Osting and how it used to be the old smaller edifice at the back which now houses the COMELEC office among others. When I see the public market I remember Kagawad Osting and how it had moved back and forth between its present location and across the boulevard; and how he (being chair of the public market committee at the city council) had to parry not a few bribery attempts from local big businesses for premium spaces inside the market. When I see the ubiquitous tricycle/pedicab, I remember Kagawad Osting for he was the only tricycle-riding member of the Sanggunian during his time. Not that if city hall, the public market and the tricycle disappear will I also forget Kagawad Osting; for there will always be something in Gensan which will remind me of him. Besides, how can a son forget his father?

My mother quips time and again, whatever good there are in General Santos City now owe something to Kagawad Osting and the others who have honestly served the city in the past. I guess only a handful knows. Even fewer will remember.