|18 Believing The ManI honestly
think that Ambassador Romulo Espaldon is a good man.
I saw his complete curriculum vitae at one
point because I remember once introducing him to a school audience as our guest speaker
and I had to labor on properly presenting his credentials.
I could not presently find a copy of his
CV. But I recall that he used to serve as a commodore, and then a rear admiral, in the
Philippine Navy during the heights of the Mindanao secessionist wars in the 1970s. In the
early 1980s, he headed the Office of Muslim Affairs for some years, and became the boss of
my elder brother Mehol briefly until Mehol hopped into another job, then another, then
another, along the way publishing in a literary folio his Brother Hunt novella
about the 1974 battlegrounds of Jolo.
The first time I ever met Ambassador
Espaldon was in early 1994, at an induction ceremony of ethnic Tausug community leaders in
Jeddah where he was the inducting officer, shortly after he arrived in the Kingdom of
Saudi Arabia at the start of his mission.
His inspirational speech after the
induction struck me as very warm but very defensive.
He expressed his great pride to be part of
the Tausug community, which was true since he grew up mostly in the southern islands of
Sulu although his family came from the north of the Philippines.
Then, he expressed his staunch denial of
having ordered the bombardment of the town of Jolo from his naval boats in 1974, which,
today, after having worked with the man for the good part of a school year, I believe must
also be true.