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Luis R. Villafuerte is a name that shall remain beyond forgetting in Camarines Sur history ---- especially among those who value native culture and customs.

Luis R. Villafuerte is one who gives premium value to Camarines Sur history more than any anthropologist or pseudo-anthropologist, living or dead in the province of Camarines Sur.

No provincial leader before him or in several generations after his generation has more interest in Camarines Sur culture and history than he does.

Who could have thought of spending time and effort in the research of the Foundation Day of Camarines Sur? Nobody but one with the name of Luis R. Villafuerte.

Who could have pinpointed the historical importance of barangay Dalupaon in Pasacao, Camarines Sur, in the Galleon trade of Hispanic Filipinas? Nobody but one with the name of Luis R. Villafuerte.

Who could have conceived of preserving original Bikolnon music, by his launching of the First Bikol Musical Festival, August 15, 1982, which came up with compositions like “An boses ni Lolo” and “Bicolano Ako, that are as heart-rending and heart-warming as “Sarong Banggi” and “Si Naynay, si Tatay”? Nobody but one with the name of Luis R. Villafuerte.

Who could have persuaded then President Simeon Benigno C. Aquino III to issue Decree No. 33, declaring Camarines Sur and Naga City as pilgrimage district for pilgrims paying their homage to Bikol’s Yna on the very day of the Traslacion on September 10, 2010, when the Bikol region marked the tercentenary of the devotion to their Yna, even days before the Local Government of Naga could do it? Nobody but one with the name of Luis R. Villafuerte.

Leaders of lesser stuff would only think of putting up obstacles along the cultural path treaded and revived by Luis R. Villafuerte. It is a path that is the least traveled, where angels and provincial governors fear to tread.

Leaders of lesser stuff would only take the much-trodden road. But not Luis R. Villafuerte.

Thus, it is just fitting that Luis R. Villafuerte be identified in Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken as the traveler standing before a divergent road, who decided to stand apart from the crowd and even do completely new things. He sees himself as innovative in mind, a daring adventurer to take another road covered with leaves and blades of grass still untouched by anyone. Not knowing what lies ahead of him, on that road, he doubted if he should ever come back. Yet being unique, he took that entirely new path, the least traveled by, and that made all the difference.

To nail that difference, Luis R. Villafuerte decided to publish the book Camarines by the Vicor River, on May 27, 1999, where he wrote: “History must always be a basic concern of both the government and the people. It is the unwritten responsibility of the present generation to trace linkages to the past for it is by journeying back and knowing and understanding our past that we may be able to anticipate and build a better future.

“But coming up with the history of even just a province like Camarines Sur, covering a period of 420 years is a herculean task beyond the competence of just one person.”

Indeed, there is dearth of research on local history. The difference between “death” of, and “dearth” in, local history is in the letter “r” which stands for “research”. In dearth, there is hope; in death, hopelessness. The former implies struggle, the latter surrender; the former contends with time, the latter has been taken over by time.

If some people in Camarines Sur and more in the City of Naga do not understand Luis R. Villafuerte, it must be because he is decades ahead of his time, a man whose thoughts about Camarines Sur of yesterday shall remain his vision for the province for decades beyond today.

We walked with him, a giant like Achilles, for more than a generation. It was a peerless privilege. He, now, belongs to the ages.

Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine. Et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace. (By Jose Fernando Obias)


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