Emilia Boncodín (1954-2010) proved to the world that not all Filipinos working in government are corrupt nor support corruption. She was among the famous Hyatt 12 — cabinet members of the corrupt Arroyo government who resigned in the midst of the Hello Garci controversy.
There is one word which best describes her defiance against Arroyo’s corrupt government. And it’s spelled H-E-R-O-I-S-M. But like many good people, she died young: 55 due to kidney failure.
May the good Lord bless her soul. And may we have more government workers like her in the next administration.
Tears, laughter mark necro service for ‘angel of budget’
Stories about Emilia Boncodín’s frugality drew much laughter.
Tears and laughter—but mostly laughter—marked the necrological rites for former Budget Secretary Boncodín held Thursday night by her friends and colleagues in government service.
On the fourth night of Boncodín’s wake, her colleagues at the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) and the Career Executive Service Board (CESB) took turns to share stories and anecdotes about her and to praise her dedication and integrity as a public servant. Her mother Cristeta and only sister Adel were present.
Patricia Santo Tomas, Development Bank of the Philippines chair and former labor secretary, said Boncodín’s idea of a treat for her staff was ordering food to-go from Jollibee.
“She also liked going to Kamameshi and Serye at Quezon Memorial Circle. Sacsacan ng tipíd. (She was miserly).” Fine dining was not part of Boncodín’s lifestyle.
Exemplar of modesty
Calyzar S. Divinagracia, DAP board chair, described Boncodín as an “exemplar of modesty and frugality.”
DAP president Antonio D. Kálaw, Jr. spoke about her “utmost diligence and simplicity.”
Rarely did Cabinet members, who served on the DAP board, attend meetings, he said. They usually sent representatives. But Boncodín was always present.
Boncodín, however, was perennially late, Kálaw said, a habit that was confirmed by other colleagues who spoke at the tribute.
The reason, they said, was she always gave time to people who consulted her and there was never enough time for each one. And so she would be late for the next appointment and the next.
Boncodín, Divinagracia said, worked to make the DAP financially viable without asking funds from government. She played a key role in its seven-year subsidy program. She also taught at the DAP and at the University of the Philippines (UP) National College of Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG).
“She did not want DAP to have an isáng cahig, isáng tucâ (hand-to-mouth) existence.” But, he added, “She was very matipíd (frugal). She even refused to give honoraria to the DAP board of trustees. ”
Always do right
Former Welfare Secretary Corazón Alma de León recalled: “Emy helped me get the needed budget when I was chair of the CESB. That is why they now have a building they call their own. She exercised the art of the possible but always with honesty, integrity and hard work. She lived the core values of ‘Gawin ang Tamà (Do what is right).’ She didn’t have to die at 55. But I guess she was ready. None of us are.”
“Emy liked singing,” Santo Tomás said. “She was more than just a public servant. She was a happy person and a really good person. They say that if you are with good persons, you also become a good person.”
Fiery words and flashy pronouncements were not Boncodín’s style. She just walked her talk. It could be done, it could be lived—was the message of her life. She lived simply, she died simply.
“But now she has lipstick on, and even eye shadow,” Santo Tomás quipped, drawing laughter from the audience.
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