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Old city hall symbol of Ignacio Santiago’s integrity

Family and friend join the mass held in honor of Ignacio Santiago, Sr., former Valenzuela mayor and Bulacan governor, at the Santiagos' residence, December 2, 2015.

Photo by: Rodrigo De Guzman
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Those who know little about Ignacio Santiago, Sr., former Valenzuela mayor and Bulacan governor who died in his sleep on Tuesday, December 2, may begin their education with Valenzuela’s old city hall.

Built in 1967, the two-floor building in the 60s Modernist style along C.J. Santos Street in Barangay Malinta was the seat of the city government until 2009, when the Office of the Mayor moved to the new Executive Building along MacArthur Highway in Karuhatan. 

The next year, more offices would transfer to the other buildings that would be constructed around the Executive Building: the attached Legislative Building, the Social Hall, the police headquarters, and the Finance Building. 

Today, the only offices housed at the former city hall are the trial courts and the Office of the City Prosecutor.

That only a few renovations has been done in it and it has withstood numerous earthquakes for 48 years speaks volumes about the chief executive who built it,Valenzuela’s incumbent mayor has said.

HOMAGE TO THE PATRIARCH Santiago family members during a mass at their residence in Lawang Bato, Valenzuela City, December 2, 2015. Santiago is survived by his wife Dolores and offsprings Jose Leonal, Rita Linda, Ignacio Santiago, Jr; and Lucia Victoria.

KEEPER OF THE FAITH The city government sponsored a necrological service at the Santiagos' residence on December 2. Mayor REX Gatchalian said Santiago is "the benchmark" of a good citizen in Valenzuela and the greatest tribute the city government can offer is to be "bearers of the fire" and "keepers of the faith," upholding to this day the level of public service Santiago was known for. Photo by Rodrigo de Guzman.

THE CITY CONDOLES. City Councilor Lorie Natividad-Borja reads a council resolution expressing the city government's condolence with the Santiago family. Photo by Rodrigo de Guzman.

In his eulogy at Santiago’s necrological service at the latter’s residence in Barangay Lawang Bato on December 8, City Mayor REX Gatchalian said: “Kung iisipin po natin, ilang dekada na ang nakalipas, nirenovate lang nang konti iyong loob, ngayon napapakinabangan pa rin ng napakaraming tao. Ilang lindol na ang dumaan, ilang bagyong malakas na ang dumaan, libo-libo o milyon-milyon na tao na ang napagsilbihan ng building na iyan. The building that stands -- again, as I’ve mentioned --  goes to show the type of public servant that built it. Bawat semento, bawat bakal, well accounted for, kaya matibay ‘yong sandigan ng building (Come to think of it, a number of decades has passed since the old city hall was built, but it has seen but minimal renovation, that one done on its interiors, and remains useful to many people up to this day. It has weathered several earthquakes and storms, has served thousands and millions of people. That goes to show the kind of public servant who built it. Every sack of cement, every piece of steel was well accounted for; that is why it endures).”

The city hall was constructed during Santiago’s second term as mayor (1964 to 1967), a fitting preparation for the industrial town that Valenzuela would become in the 1970s.

Jonathan Balsamo, historian and Valenzuela City Museum curator, said it was during Santiago’s time as mayor that factory owners began to open shop in Valenzuela, transforming what was largely an agricultural town into an industrial center.

In 1968, Santiago would be elected governor of Bulacan --  Valenzuela was part of the province until 1975, when it was annexed to Metro Manila -- a position he would hold for 18 years.

As governor, he organized the Provincial Development Council, which was notable for tapping the support of the private sector for the province’s development projects.

Santiago also built the Bulacan Museum and Cultural Center in Malolos City in 1971, on funds from private donations.

COMING HOME Santiago's funeral car makes a stopover at the old Valenzuela city hall, now the Justice Hall, December 8, 2015. The building, the city's seat of government until 2009, was opened in 1967, the last year of Santiago's second and last term as mayor. Photo by Rodrigo de Guzman.

Stories that last

But what would perhaps outlast the storied architecture in Malinta  and others he built are the stories about Santiago himself.

“Noong pumasok ako sa pulitika almost 10 years ago, everytime na pumupunta ako sa mga birthday o mga social events, never ho akong nakapunta sa isang lugar na hindi pinag-usapan the legend that is Nacing Santiago (When I entered politics almost 10 years ago, every time I attended a birthday party or any social event, I never went anywhere where people didn’t talk about the legend that is Nacing [Santiago’s nickname] Santiago),” said Mayor REX. 

“Pag pinag-usapan nila siya, hindi dahil sa naging mayor or gobernador siya, kundi dahil sa pagkatao po niya, kung gaano po siya kagaling makisama, kung gaano karami ang naging kaibigan, kung gaano karami ang naging barkada, kung gaano karami ang natulungan (When they talk about Santiago, it wasn’t always about him as a public servant but also about him as someone who made a lot of friends, as someone who was charitable to a lot of people),” the local chief executive added. 

“Doon ko ho nasabi sa sarili ko na the benchmark o ang batayan dito sa Valenzuela ng magaling na public servant at mabuting tao, si Governor Nacing Santiago (It was then that I realized that the benchmark of being an outstanding public servant and a good person in Valenzuela is Governor Nacing Santiago),” said Mayor REX.

Boy scouts salute Santiago's funeral car as it enters the grounds of the San Diego de Alcala Church. Photo by Rodrigo de Guzman.

The Reverend Filemon Capiral blesses Santiago's casket during a mass held in his honor at the San Diego de Alcala Church, December 8, 2015. Photo by Rodrigo de Guzman.

The Santiago Family. Photo by Rodrigo de Guzman.

Santiago was found dead in his sleep morning of December 2, 2015. He was 86.

Keepers of the faith

“Ang pinakamagandang tribute naming mga nanunugkulan, whether elected or just working for the local government unit is to keep the level of service Governor Santiago was known for. We will be keepers of the faith, bearers of the fire that he started in the city (The greatest tribute we public servants could give to Santiago is to keep the level of service he was known for. We will be keepers of the faith, and the bearers of the fire that he started in the city),” Mayor REX said.

Santiago is survived by his wife Dolores and children Jose Leonal, Rita Linda, Ignacio, Jr. and Lucia Victoria. He was 86.

His remains were interred on December 8 at the Polo Catholic Cemetery in Barangay Palasan., where those of local patriot Pio Valenzuela also lies.

Mass attendees lay flowers on Santiago's casket. Photo by Rodrigo de Guzman.

Police carry Santiago's casket out of the church after the mass. Photo by Rodrigo de Guzman.

Santiago's remains were buried at the Polo Catholic Cemetery, where the remains of anticolonial revolutionary and local partriot Pio Valenzuela are also interred. Photo by Rodrigo de Guzman.

Santiago's wife Dolores receives the Philippine flag from a police officer. Photo by Rodrigo de Guzman.

2015-12-11 | By: Rafael Carpio Cañete

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