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Sabbatical

Netnet Camomot /

THE first time I met, er, saw Cito Lorenzo, he was then-agriculture secretary and he and his fellow cabinet members were at the lobby of Pryce Plaza, Cagayan de Oro, waiting for then-president Gloria Arroyo a.k.a. GMA who was still upstairs in her room.

My nephew and niece were having their swimming lessons at Pryce, and I was the stage aunt, tagging along to watch them swim.

Even then, when I was still, hmmm, much younger, observing people was already my favorite spectator sport.

On our way home, we passed by the lobby again, and the cabinet members were still there, waiting, along with some Cagayan de Oro city officials headed by then-mayor Dongkoy Emano. I wanted to have photo ops with these political bigwigs, and my bro, nephew and niece were like, Whaaaaat?! For one, my nephew and niece had no idea who these bigwigs were.

Right after the photo ops with Emano and some cabinet members, including Lorenzo, GMA finally arrived, and there I was again, asking my family for more photo ops, because this time, it’s no less than GMA! I asked then-cabinet member Mike Defensor if we could have some photos with the president, and he said, yes, but we had to hurry because she was about to leave for some other place. So, we kind of ran to the main entrance. Defensor took my camera, we said our hellos to the president, and posed with the black armored car assigned to her as our background. Defensor then handed my camera to NFA Administrator Arthur Yap. GMA had her arms on the shoulders of my nephew and niece who were both standing right beside her, and before Yap could take our photo, my niece turned her head so that her face was now facing the president, and that’s when she asked me, Tita, where’s GMA? Oops!

Many things have happened since then, one of which was the fertilizer fund scam in 2004 that was blamed on then-agriculture undersecretary Jocjoc Bolante. That supposedly drove him and Lorenzo to leave the country, purportedly to avoid the Senate inquiry. Yes, the question hovering overhead was, Where are they?

The fertilizer fund scam continues to keep on going despite acquittals by the Sandiganbayan in December 2016. It has reached the status of, Abangan ang susunod na kabanata.

Meanwhile, Lorenzo has moved forward after a decade-long sabbatical, and now quotes “What Will Matter” by Michael Josephson:

Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end.

There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days.

All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten will pass to someone else.

Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.

It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.

As my maternal Lola used to say, “Kalibutan pa ni.”

I was an internal auditor for the multinational firm where Lorenzo’s father and brother used to work, too. It was during those years that I realized auditing wasn’t for me. Should have decided on that earlier while I was trying to absorb cost accounting in college and terms like “work in progress” flew overhead, and tax accounting became more taxing than memorizing articles for Law. And all along I thought I loved Math. But Accounting is not Math.

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants says that accounting is “the art of recording, classifying, and summarizing in a significant manner and in terms of money, transactions and events which are, in part at least of financial character, and interpreting the results thereof.”

In case a taxpayer questions how the Bureau of Internal Revenue computes taxes due, well, it’s an art, it’s not exact science.

A co-auditor once told me that I have an auditor’s mind. I guess she meant I’m skeptical and cynical? Hmmm. But you have to love Accounting and embrace it once you choose that as your profession otherwise stress will be your constant companion.

Lorenzo mentions one particular kind of cancer that targets some of the multinational firm’s employees, no thanks to their exposure to fertilizers and chemicals at the plantation. And he now wants to help Northern Mindanao through organic farming and healing oils. This is going back to the basics, one thing he must have learned during his hibernation.

Last Wednesday night was the first time I heard him speak. So, I have no basis of comparison between his thoughts when he was agriculture secretary, and now that he wants to cure the ills wrought by fertilizers and chemicals. But even then at Pryce Plaza, he was simply sitting in one corner, waiting for the president. Until I arrived and asked for photo ops.

I loved listening to the Cito Lorenzo I met last Wednesday at the meeting of the Rotary Club of West CDO. If that’s the guy whom his family and close friends have always known since birth, then the fertilizer fund scam could be the worst learning experience he had to climb out of.

This is one brilliant guy who had to learn his lessons in the most difficult way.

He now credits his wife for teaching their children not to have a sense of entitlement.

What’s sense of entitlement? One sample: when someone wants you to kiss his a**. If that’s hard to fathom, here’s what may serve as a more glaring example: the Ozamiz City vice mayor having a collection of Hermes bags.

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About Netnet Camomot

Netnet Camomot once edited a society page and covered society stories for another newspaper. She has long been writing about the lighter side of anything under the sun, including pressing issues of the day, with a touch of humor.

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