Bohol’s Choice Cuts
By Loy M. Palapos
July 1, 2007
EXUPERIO CHIONG LLOREN
THE REBEL WITH A CAUSE
Interviewing Mayor Exuperio Lloren was a touching experience. He exuded confidence, devoid of obstrusivity, a gentlemen at peace with his world, and steadfast with his principles. His narrative was an outpouring of life’s angst, of his sacrifices to attain a noble goal, of 20 years of living underground; but there was no bitterness in his physiognomy nor in his voice, when he detailed the travails he and his family underwent. It is with utmost respect that I write about Eksam.
He was born in Jagna, Bohol on September 22, 1952 to former Jagna Municipal Councilor and Cocofed President, Leon Ranido Lloren, and a former public school teacher, Ermetania Madera Chiong. His brother Antioco “Chito” is connected with UNESCO in Paris, France. Zenobio “Zen” is with the Legal Department of the DBP Central Office in Manila. A third brother, Senen, is presently a Jagna Municipal Councilor. His only sister, Cynthia “Ching” is connected with an overseas recruitment agency based in Manila.
Eksam Lloren is married to Nimfa Calceta Abaya who is the Bohol Area Project Manager of the Unlad-Kabayan Migrant Services Foundation, Inc. Their son Norman Allan is a third year Fine Arts student at UP Dilliman. He won second prize in the Annual Interschool On-the-Spot Painting Competition and Exhibition in the year 2002, and was a Semi-Finalist in the Nokia Arts Award–Asia Pacific 2002. Amadis Lean is taking International Studies in Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan. The youngest, Llane June Vida is a fourth year high school student at Holy Spirit School, Tagbilaran City.
Eksam took up Bachelor of Arts at the Divine Word College and University of Bohol, and Medical Technology at Velez College, Cebu City. His secondary days were spent at the Central Visayan Institute of Jagna, and his elementary at the Colegio de la Medalla Milagrosa (Jagna) and Bohol Chinese School (Tagbilaran).
His consciousness to serve the masses was kindled in 1971 when he joined the Church-inspired Khi Rho movement, and became a fulltime organizer of the farmer sector. For a man with ideals, this episode of his life was a heart-wrenching awakening to a facet in Filipino life that a man with real concern cannot ignore. He tilled the land with farmers and shared their aspirations. This was augmented by a strike at a local college when he took an active part in ventilating the perceived ills; but his total involvement, which made him join the revolutionary movement, took place upon the declaration of Martial Law in September 1972 when he went underground.
It was an ordeal that would forever be his badge of courage. For 20 long years he shared with his wife Nimfa an indescribable life of sacrifices for a cause. In the process they lost their first baby, a bitter and unforgettable sting. The second was about to be born when they walked through kilometers of rugged terrain to look for a midwife. It was an incident that could have cost her life. Prayers saved both the mother and the son. The son grew up with them, devoid of exposure to urban comfort, in an atmosphere not suited to bringing up a young boy. Until their concern for him made them decide to leave him with his grandparents in Jagna, not withstanding the loneliness of separation.
He was arrested together with his wife in March 1992, and both were charged with frustrated murder and multiple murder, which later was altered to subversion. They were brought and incarcerated in Samar, and subjected to unmentionable degradation, including some days without food in most unsanitary surroundings. It was a bleak part of their lives they had to bear stoically. Because of the repeal of the Anti-Subversion Law, the case was eventually dropped and both were released through a court order in December 1992.
Eksam and Nimfa, now a complete family for the first time, were reintegrated into the mainstream of society with focus on rebuilding the family and establishing the economic foundation upon return to normal life.
Eksam’s concern for the people has always been a part of his life, a commitment that those who know him fully appreciate. As a manifestation of this high regard the people of Pagina, Jagna elected him Punong Barangay in 1997. It was a formal initiation to public service and, being a disciplined individual with a social conscience, he gave a sterling performance that did not go unnoticed. Because of insistent proddings, especially from the countless who knew his potentials, he geared for more responsibilities. In 1998 he was elected Number One Municipal Councilor of the town, performing the responsibilities of the Vice Mayor on several occasions during the latter’s absence, and assuming the position upon the demise of the second-ranking municipal official. These few years were learning experiences that imbued in Eksam more devotion to service, as he continued to comprehend the role he has to play.
He never planned to be a cog-in-the-wheel in governance, but his constituents impressed upon him the necessity that he takes the cudgels for them. At that time the local papers screamed of graft and corruption being rampant in his town. He has to take the rampaging bull by its horns, a Herculean task he accepted with reluctance, considering the intrigues politicians are heir to. He ran as Mayor and although he did not expect it, he won. This despite his non-acquisition of the proverbial 3 Gs (Guns, Goons, Gold) needed to win an election.
Mayor Lloren sees the Local Government Code of 1991, not as a source of power, but an opportunity for good governance and democratization at the lower levels of government. This is where the service of the people can come into reality if implemented fully. As an advocate of transparency and participatory management, he made some reforms at the Municipal Hall by organizing the employees themselves who made recommendations as a course of action. He believes that the development for Jagna could evolve from the Barangay Development Planning through Participating Rural Appraisal, then to Comprehensive Municipal Development Plan.
While working in the Development Plans, he has zeroed in an impact priority projects: market construction, rehabilitation of the water system, and farm to market roads. Equal importance is also given to fiscal and financial management as well as organizational management and development. The big success of the Sinuog Estokada, which dramatizes St. Michael’s war against evil, and the occupancy of the Public Market, are the recent proofs of Mayor Lloren’s dedication to his job.
Jagna needs a Mayor whose vision-mission commitment is infallible. What Mayor Exuperio Lloren has gone through, especially his years of self-denial and sacrifice for a worthy cause, has made him incorruptible. This is a trait Chief Local Executives should be made of. Eksam’s dedication to his people is boundless. Looking at him straight to the eye when I made this interview I saw a man sincere and honest in his perception of truth. He was a rebel with a cause. This cause-orientation has a more deeply seated meaning now; only a man in his caliber can give justice to.
Mayor Lloren personifies the ideals long forgotten by many politicians. He embodies the ideals of fairness, and conscientiously espouses the tenets framed by Leviathan, in stressing justice, especially for the impoverished and neglected. Eksam has lighted a candle in the dark, perhaps…for the others in public service to follow. He never claims genius in any aspect, he says he is just an ordinary man committing himself to his people. This is his cause now.