RIP Marcelo de Guzman: In Praise of Public Service
July 18, 2016 Leave a comment
Since last week, the de Guzman clan has been mourning the passing of another family member–my uncle, Marcelo de Guzman. The reason for his passing was not ill health, or an accident like a vehicular collision, but because he was murdered in front of his house.
He had served as Barangay Captain (an elected municipal official in the Philippines), which means this was likely a politically-motivated attack, especially since another municipal official was targeted before he was.
Having spent most of my life in Canada, I cannot claim to be close to him, but the occasions I had to spend time with him confirmed everything I heard in stories–that he was, in spite of being a joker, very wise, philosophical, and devoted to service. These are qualities that were also embodied by another one of my late uncles, Santiago de Guzman, the former mayor of the same city that my uncle Marcelo also served.
The real connection I have with him is through values and how my mom would say how much I reminded her of him as I was growing up (since I too have a penchant for philosophy and for being a smart-ass).
As I think about “Tito Elong,” I remember not just a great man, but a public servant who continued on with his service in a country rife with corruption, poverty, social problems, and danger. While his death is tragic, his life is inspiring, especially given that he rose from humble beginnings as a simple farm boy.
Politicians have such a bad rap these days (admittedly, much of it due to their own doing), but I have never not believed that politics could be a noble calling. I know from what my uncles have done that public service is not an unfortunate necessity, but a force of good.
Thank you, Tito Elong for your hard work and dedication to public life.