By Mitch Azarcon
Alfonso Perez Falarme (Tang Ponching) is a youthful octogenarian who has been offered by President Joseph Estrada (Erap) to be his consultant on streamlining government bureaucracy.Erap is particularly interested in introducing the concept of SCORE (Service Core of Retired Executives) in the Philippines. Tang Ponching is the only Asian SCORE counselor. SCORE is a non-profit volunteer organization of retired executives that provides management counseling and assistance to small businesses. In addition to being a SCORE counselor, Tang Ponching works the night shift as Night Auditor in a chain of hotels and motels in Rochester, Minnesota.
He would like the Rochester SCORE chapter to act as a coordinator for a satellite group in Manila. This group could provide literature, training and the like for interested business people. The program could eventually spread to rural areas, where many believe light industry is needed.
Tang Ponching holds a long list of achievements. He has the rare distinction of being the first Asian United Nation(UN) scholar in Customs, Tariff and Taxation. He visited, observed and studied in no less than 44 countries of the four continents, persuaded President Diosdado Macapagal to visit his hometown, pioneered the putting up of the Sibale Academy and became a World War II hero for leading the total annihilation of the Japanese Imperial Forces in Romblon. He is known in his homeland as the hero of the Battle of Agtiwa and was in charge of the Philippine Army unit that “mopped up” the remaining Japanese soldiers on the islands. His reputation as the hero of the Battle of Agtiwa came when he and a group of his men attacked and killed a group of Japanese soldiers who had been molesting civilians in this area on Sibuyan Island. He was an Intelligence officer and was wounded in the arm and leg during W.W.II.
He topped three government examination on import, tariff customs and foreign trade. He passed the bar in 1950 with an average of 85.6%. He came out of the Philippine Executive Academy a leader of his executive development class in 1967. In 1953, he practically prepared single-handedly the draft of what is now our tariff code. He is listed in a book entitled “The Philippines, Who’s Who in America.” When he was working for the Philippine government as an expert of tariff, taxation and customs, A Technical Assistant of the Tariff Commission and the Executive Director of PAGCOM (Presidential Anti-Graft Committee), he represented the Philippines in several international conferences all over the world. He has written several articles and is considered an authority on the subject.
In addition, he has been written up a few times in the Rochester Post-Bulletin. Uncle Ponso started out as a clerk typist in the National assembly in 1937 and secretary of the municipality of Maghali, Romblon. With his talents and hard work, he worked through the ranks to become the foremost tariff expert in the Philippines during his time. Congratulations to Uncle Ponso for his remarkable achievements!
He is a friend of Philippine presidents. He knew the late President Marcos from college days when the two were in ROTC training in the University of the Philippines. He remained in touch with him and was an occasional visitor to their home. He met with ex-President Corazon Aquino on his proposal to adopt the SCORE program to help Filipinos start a new business.
He migrated to the United States in ‘ 84 and lives with his wife, Josefina ( Tita Jo), a nurse at the world-renowned Mayo Clinic, now known as Mayo Medical Center.
They recently moved into a new, big, multi-level home with a 2-car garage, pergolarium adorarum patio, and a water fountain in the front yard. The address is as follows:
2023 24th St. SE
Rochester, MN 55904
Tel. no. (507) 281-0807
Of course his greatest achievements in his own assessment are those that benefit and interest his hometown Sibale; among others are:
1. The putting up of Sibale Academy with the able assistance of the late Mayor Jose Rafols and his late two brothers Gaudencio and Enrique.
2. Persuading President Diosdado Macapagal to visit Sibale in his Presidential yacht.
3. Arranged with Alfredo Mendoza, a business tycoon of Pinamalayan a tour of residents, mostly ladies of Sibale via S.S. Tamaraw.
4. Convinced the officials of the province, particularly Congressman Madrona and Mayor Prospero Fabregas to give top priority to the improvement of the water system of Sibale.
Currently, Tang Ponching looks like he could pass for 50. The secret of his long and healthy life is “Drinking Salabatinstead of coffee, living in a friendly city like Rochester where people greet each other on the streets, having the world-famous Mayo Clinic as his hospital and doing daily yoga.” His favorite motto is “Hindi bubukol kung hindi uukol.” ( Loose translation: What will be, will be). He is now our oldest, living Perez relative, having replaced Tio Ute who died years ago.