CITY OF MALOLOS – Memories of Ka Blas Ople’s invaluable contributions to the province and to the country flooded the Gat. Blas F. Ople Building, Capitol Compound as the Bulakenyos commemorate his 89th birthday early Wednesday morning.
Gov. Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado shared his memorable encounters with Ka Blas while emphasizing that a man who came from scratch and utilized his time as useful as it can be has left this world with rich knowledge and experiences and remained as a light and inspiration to others until today.
“Isang hamak na probinsyano, produkto ng pampublikong paaralan, isang magsasakang wala namang lupang sinasaka, isang mangingisdang umaasa lamang sa kagandahang loob ng dagat, isang alagad ng paggawa na wala namang pagawaan at nakasandig lamang sa lakas ng sariling mga bisig, gamit ang lakas ng kaisipan na pinatalas ng masigasig na pagbabasa,” Alvarado said.
The governor also likened Ople to Hercules of Greek mythology and Job, a biblical icon who despite the hardships in life still accomplished things that many perceived as impossible to do.
The children of Ople also honor the memories of their father.
His daughter Susan “Toots” Ople, who has been championing the cause of the Overseas Filipino Workers and is now vying for a post in the senate to follow Ka Blas’ footsteps, shared his father’s commitment not only to the country but to his family regardless of a busy career.
“Minsan masarap mamasyal sa hardin ng alaala, masarap balikan ‘yung mga ngiti, halakhak, mga payo ng isang lider, ng isang ama. Labindalawang taon nang wala ang Amang namin pero ang aral ng isang masipag, matalino at may malasakit na Ka Blas, hanggang ngayon patuloy na sinusunod kahit ng mga may mataas na katungkulan sa pamahalaan, and with that we are thankful,” Susan Ople said.
Also part of the celebration were the opening of the exhibits of the Hagonoy Art Group, whom Ople has supported, an essay writing in English language contest held at the Provincial Engineer’s Office Conference Room and Extemporaneous Speech in Filipino Competition held at the Nicanor Abelardo Auditorium.
Ople at 16years old, was designated as a lieutenant of the Del Pilar regiment of the Bulacan Military Area during World War II. He was appointed Labor Secretary by former president Ferdinand E. Marcos in 1967-1971 and from 1972 to 1986.He is known as the father of the Labor Code of the Philippines and the OFWs and was the first Filipino to be elected as president of the International Labor Organization (ILO) in 1975.
Ople was also a member of the Constitutional Commission in 1887. He also served as Senate President Pro-Tempore in 1996 to 1999 and became Senate President in 1999 to 2000.Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo appointed him as Foreign Affairs Secretary in the year 2000.
He died with his boots on while on board a plane from Bangkok to Tokyo on December 14, 2003.