Ilocos Sur folks mourn death of prominent leader
By Freddie G. Lazaro
Vigan City (July 22) -- The Philippine flag is at half mast all over Ilocos Sur following the death of a prominent leader, former Governor Godofredo Reyes, who died due to a lingering illness last July 5 at the age of 91, leaving the people of Ilocos Sur led by Governor Deogracias Victor Savellano be in deep sorrow over a loss of a great Ilocosurians.
The members of the provincial board presided by Vice Governor Jerry Singson passed a resolution conveying the province its most sincere condolences to the family of late former Governor Reyes.
"The death of a loved one is always an excruciating experience to the family, relatives and friends who are left behind. The passing away of former Ilocos Sur Governor Dr. Reyes has left a void in the hearts of his family when he joined his Creator last July 5, 2009 at age of 91," the governor said.
"The local officials in the province convey the most sincere condolences to the bereaved family and join them in their prayers for his eternal glory in heaven," he added.
Dr. Reyes (1918 - 1999), who was known as "Grand Old Man," was a well-known doctor, a soldier-veteran of World War II, an academician, a businessman, a writer, a book author, a columnist, a poet, a painter, a statesman, a politician and a member of the constitutional convention that formulated the 1972 constitution.
As a doctor, he finished medicine with an advance training of the Reserved Officer Training Corps (ROTC) at the University of the Philippines (UP). He was no. 6 in the national medical board examination in 1943.
During the World War II, he served courageously as battalion surgeon with a f1st Lieutenant rank of the 1st Batallion, 66th Infantry, USAFIP NL that earned him numerous service decoration awards.
He spent most of his life serving the people in his capacity as a General and Eye Surgeon in their family clinic in Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur with its branches in Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija; and in Urdaneta and Rosales, Pangasinan. He was a national and international fellow of college of surgeons and country academy of ophthalmology and otolaryngology. In 1966 -1969, he was appointed by President Marcos as member of the Medical Board of Examiners and he became chairman in 1969-1971.
As a public servant, he was elected and appointed into different positions in the government. In 1947 - 1951, he served as town mayor of Sta. Maria and was re-elected in 1955.
In 1957, he was elected as congressman of the second district of Ilocos Sur. Some of his memorable achievements were the establishment of the Southern Ilocos Sur District Hospital and the main author of the Medical Act of 1959 otherwise known as "Medicare Law." Dr. Reyes coining him as the "Father of the Medicare" in the country, now the Philhealth.
In 1960-1963, he took the reins of the Province of Ilocos Sur as governor and again as vice governor from 1980 - 1986 and that his dedication and commitment to serve entitled him the most prestigious award, "Father Jose Burgos Award" given by the provincial government of Ilocos Sur last February 2008.
He was also chosen as one of the delegates of the Constitutional Convention that formulated the 1972 constitution.
As businessman, he was a co-founder of the Rural Banks in Sta, Maria and Candon, both in Ilocos Sur. He also served as Director of the Philippine Virginia Tobacco Administration (PVTA), now the National Tobacco Administration (NTA).
Dr. Reyes carried a name in the field of literature for his numerous literary works in poems, stories and essays in English and Ilocano dialect that led him as the "Poet Laureate of Ilokandia" in 1973 and as Pedro Bucaneg Awardee; and the conferment of the 1988 Gawad Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtas.
Also, he was elected as president for 13 years of the GUMIL-Filipinas, a well- known organization of Ilocano writers in the country and abroad.
He was also a member of the Knights of Columbus serving as Grand Knight, Faithfull Navigator and District Deputy in the province.
Ma. Juanita F. Rivera, Regional Officer of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) in Region 1, said that the death of Dr. Reyes was a great lost and always be missed by the staff because of his active involvement in pursuing for the welfare of the WW11 veterans until the last stage of his life despite his illness.
"We are extremely saddened by the death of Dr. Reyes. He was not only a veteran but a model political figure.
Prior to his death, Reyes served as the Vice Regional Commander of the 2nd Ilocos Sur Veteran District of the Veteran Federation of the Philippines (VFP), national Vice President of VFP for Region 1 and President and Chairman of the Board of St. Mary's College in Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur.
A few days before his death, he received a "Lifetime Achievement Award" from the UP Alumni Association for his dedication as "a doctor in the grassroots."
Dr. Reyes will be buried in Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur cemetery on July 18, 2009. (PIA Ilocos Sur) [top]