“NO PROBLEM MIKE”
By: Edcel C. Lagman
(Eulogy for former Rep. Miguel L. Romero delivered on
20 January 2015 at Christ the King Church, Green Meadows)
Our condolences again to Menchu, the composed and ever gracious widow of former Representative Miguel L. Romero, and their bereaved children, grandchildren, in-laws, Mike’s surviving sisters Mary Ann and Chinky and other relatives.
There could be no better friend than Mike Romero. In fact, he was the best of friends to countless of us.
Mike went out of his way to help friends in need; he fought for friends under siege; and he even defied conventions for friends in distress.
That was “Don Miguel”, as we fondly called Mike, with his big heart and boundless generosity.
I was closely associated with Mike shortly before Martial Law when we formed the Romero and Lagman Law Office at the 10th Floor of Sarmiento Building on Ayala Avenue. Mike was the “rainmaker” as he brought in the clients, and I was the advocate who serviced them, of course together with Mike.
Romero and Lagman later became Romero Lagman and Pasamba Law Office. Atty. Eladio “Ely” Pasamba, a tax lawyer and a certified public accountant, passed away almost a year ago.
With the entry of two more partners, the law firm became Romero Lagman Pasamba Evangelista and Ermitaño Law Office.
Later on, at a new location in Gammon House along Rada Street, the law office was renamed Romero Lagman Chato and Torres. Atty. Ruben Torres became Secretary of Labor and subsequently Executive Secretary of President Fidel Ramos.
I recall listening to Mike while he was on the phone when he said “Comadre, (talking to President Cory Aquino) Atty. Ruben Torres will be a good Secretary of Labor.” The rest is history.
Our law firm produced three Congressmen: Representative Miguel L. Romero, who represented the Second District of Negros Oriental; Representative Edcel C. Lagman, who represented the First District of Albay; and Rep. Ruben D. Torres, who represented the Second District of Zambales.
Mike and I were together in the House of Representatives from the 8th to the 10th Congresses (1987-1998). Although we differed in some controversial issues, we collaborated in the enactment of important statutes principally authored and co-authored by Congressman Romero, among others, the following:
(1) House Bill No. 10 which was incorporated in the Local Government Code (Republic Act No. 7160) providing for an equitable share of local government units in the proceeds from the utilization and development of the national wealth in their respective areas;
(2) R.A. Nos. 7256 and 7274 increasing the bed capacities of hospitals in the cities of Bais and Dumaguete;
(3) R.A. No. 7875, An Act Further Restructuring the Medical Care Benefits under the Philippine Medical Care Plan;
(4) R.A. No. 7638, An Act Creating the Department of Energy;
(5) R.A. No. 8282, An Act Providing for Increased Investments in Housing under the Social Security System;
(6) R.A. No. 8626, An Act Designating the Bayanihan Philippine Dance Company as the Philippine National Folk Dance Company;
(7) Republic Act No. 6655 establishing free secondary education; and
(8) Republic Act No. 8050 upgrading the practice and education of optometry in the country.
The range of the subjects of the laws Congressman Romero authored and co-authored reveals that he was able to balance local and national concerns in his legislative agenda.
As a neophyte legislator in 1987, Mike headed the House contingent in the powerful Commission on Appointments and became Vice Chairman of the Commission.
Mike was also an enterprising businessman. He owned the majority shares in Guitarmasters, Inc. and Asian Trading Corporation (ATC), which was the exclusive distributor of the Toro Turf Irrigation Sprinklers in the Philippines.
Under his stewardship, ATC installed the turf irrigation system at the Luneta Park, Puerto Azul Golf and Country Club, Wack Wack Golf and Country Club, Valley Golf and Country Club, Alabang Golf Club and the Paoay Lake Golfclub.
The only golf course of consequence at that time which ATC was not able to irrigate was the Malacañang Golf Club. The reason was that I was considered a “security risk” as an activist even as I was Executive Vice President of ATC.
We also referred to “Don Miguel” as “no problem Mike”. To him, there was no problem without any solution. And retreating from or avoiding a problem was not an option. To Mike, this enduring philosophy applied to all aspects of life: law, politics and family.
I surmise Mike must be telling all of us now: “There is no problem. I simply passed on after a good life.”