He is one "idol" of many Casiguranins for his anecdotes are worth emulating and his legend difficult to duplicate - flying by helicopter in aid of Casiguranins who needed emergency medical attention, paving all poblacion roads, renovated Ermita Hill Chapel and facilitated unforgettable festive fiesta celebrations. He is incomparable to those before and after him who held his office. Because he appointed himself the title of public servant, by helping countless kababayans, even before his successful three year term as Mayor and short stint as Vice. He lost three times before and won the next three bid as Mayor then lost again the last. He was overwhelmingly given fresh mandate as Vice but was deposed out of technicality. He is friends to all, their Tyong, and his big heart would allow him to embrace back as allies and partners even former opposers. His unwavering love for and indefatigable service to Casiguranins was his mission.
During the victory celebration upon his first election as Mayor, he was christened "Mayor Pusit" alluding to his skin color as black as the squid ink, a name to define a new era of administration from his defeated rival with a nickname by another sea creature. Aptly so that "pusit" is a good cure to ulcer, the "mayor" was a man for the poor, that he is sensitive to the hunger of fellow kababayans for all the basic needs they so rightfully deserve. His official referrals to help all those who come to him for his personal attention are swiftly taken action. He even make sure to prioritize the rest before relatives. He makes sure to look after the benefits of other before self, a trait he lived to set an example even on the last days before his hospitalization. He is a forgiving man, for he does not keep records of offenses of others, and in many ways help again those who were once against him when political and economic fortune was not favorable.
Fidel was the youngest of five siblings. The most maporma of them, with tantalazing eyes, the gait of an action star, a man of few words. The only one to follow after his father's footsteps as public official. His father was elected municipal councilor, whose popularity bolstered by personally financing the first Dimalang bridge. A project he never waited for the government to provide. He acted on this personally with his personal resources. The same trait of "man of action" became Fidel's signature, when he personally drove one construction vehicle to oversee constructing farm to market roads, among them named after his father Felix, now known as Salamera Boulevard in Barangay Calantas. Before his term ended, he had completed paving all poblacion roads. As a young man, he sought his destiny in Manila, which was innaccessible then compared to now. He managed to be successful on his own right as a construction foreman, the popular alternatives to "architects" or builders of that time. He accomplished several beautification and development projects of Ermita Chapel - earliest was the stairs reconstruction, grotto and later the ramp. His managerial and leadership abilities led him to supervisory positions that paved way for his friendships with former employers and colleagues that turned political supporters. He came back to Casiguran flying by helicopter, always making a one turn around the poblacion town to the enjoyment of kids following before it lands in the school's ground. He always sports all white apparel from head to toe, mostly in white shorts and white jacket and sunglasses. On those days, he was there either to pick-up a kababayan gravely ill that needed to be treated in a hospital in Manila or bring home a deceased kababayan to save from harsh days of travel by land and sea. Aside from helicopters, he likes riding mortorcycles, some of his old photos were with the latest model of that time. And in retirement still was his favorite mode of transport. He was a fun-loving person and plays accordion during family gatherings. He would share this fun-loving personality during fiesta celebrations, bring drum and bugle corps to complete the fiesta mood spirit. He even participated in a show where he was run over by a truck. A trick that added more myth to his person. As Mayor, he was the best cheerleader of Casiguranin athletes during provincial competitions, always at the finish line to hand over a gift cash. Those cash were bulging from his two pockets, which he intended to give all to his constituents, as a father, for the enjoyment of those he served. He spoils yet as strict as an administrator, specially in getting rid of drug addiction during his term, where he would deal personally to castigate suspected addicts and trouble makers. Valorous, out of experience, where he was once the leader of a group that maintains peace and order in Pandacan at a time when riots and gang war were common along the rails. He is no stranger to putting his life in danger for a cause, which was probably an awareness he gained from surviving the war as a young gentleman. His presence, specially on stage, and his voice and bright rhetorics always get the attention of the crowd.
We can list all projects, all favors and help he extended, yet all those aren't true measure of his real achievement which was integrity of service, of living simply for as long as there is Coke in a meal. He came to power already a self-made man who can easily live a comfortable private life without aspiring for public office, yet he chose to serve. He followed his heart and offered himself, his life to people. After his term, he came back to normal life esteemed, led a frugal life and regal in defeat. He showed a life by example of not enriching oneself, of not using influence to secure a better retirement. His answer to critics was that he had not hidden anything. He is a true gift to Casiguranins made possible by the sacrifices of his family so that we can have his time and attention. Tyang Belen, the woman behind his success, could have only gotten his full attention during bed rest, for the earliest sign of strength, he would again dare to risk all to return to his beloved Casiguran. His favorite song is philosophic;
Ang lahat ng bagay sa mundo'y napaparang
Kung mayrun lungkot, merun ding kaligayahan
Now that he has rested, singing the same song with matching accordion in honor of his Creator, following His voice on earth as in heaven, Vox Populi Vox Dei. We surely miss the man who helped others and followed the voice of the people. We can pay our respect by paying forward to others the same charity he lived by as code. Expecting no return for the public service he rendered selflessly with joy - he lived life to the fullest. A very giving and forgiving man. Tyong Fidel, idol. [A tribute from "Agta Ako" by Roderick Salamera Morfe ]