SAN RAFAEL, Bulacan – Bert “Tawa” Marcelo who hails from this place did not live long enough to see the transformation of the company that makes his favorite beer. But his son, Gerard said his dad would be proud and happy to learn of the successes of San Miguel Corporation who is giving back to Bulacan with the soon-to-be-built airport 25 years after his demise.

SMC Bullakan Bulacan Airport - Bert Marcelo would be happy and proud of SMC’s airport project – Son
(MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

“He would have loved to meet Mr. Ramon Ang, the San Miguel visionary who led the diversification. He would have given him butong pakwan ni Mentong or a box of chicharon from Bulacan, his usual pasalubong to friends,” said the 47-year-old Gerard, one of the comedic legend’s four sons.

Gerard said his father’s closest association to SMC’s big boss Ramon S. Ang was the late chairman Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. “I remember when Boss Danding wants to have a good laugh, he will call my father and tell him to deliver Boss Danding’s favorite joke.”

But his association with SMC was not only with the bosses.

“My father was close to San Miguel people from its truck drivers up to the Chairman. He can relate to them. He talks to everyone since he is easy-going and has a friendly nature. His jokes were snappy and non- lethal,” he said.

“He lived that value of friendship over money. He would do San Miguel shows for a minimal fee like the Balikbanda shows and appear in their Baguio summer shows yearly in the 80s. He did shows for San Miguel executives and friends for free. He also lived the SMB value of “Iba ang may pinagsamahan,” another San Miguel Beer tagline,” Gerard said.

Gerard said the gloom of the lockdown due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) gave  Filipinos time to revisit his dad’s old SMC TV commercials on Youtube and share these on Facebook. One of the favorite ones was featuring Bert demanding debt payment from Bruno, a karate practitioner, who sends his sparring partner sailing through the front door. A dazed Bert then invites him with his characteristic Bulakenyo lilt, “Mag beer muna tayo.”

Gerard agrees that a lot has changed since and San Miguel has diversified into many businesses. “But my father would be happy that Ramon Ang is investing heavily in the country to help our kababayans by providing employment and improving our country’s infrastructure. His big investments are helping the country’s economy,’ he said.

Because his father values the bond and friendship with San Miguel and loves Bulacan dearly, particularly his hometown, Baliuag, Gerard said that the construction of the P734 billion Manila International Airport would definitely make him proud.

“Yes, definitely he will be happy and proud of the development. My father was a proud Bulakenyo. As Jose Guevarra also said, ‘He was one of the two men that the province of Bulacan can be truly proud of. He placed Bulacan on the map. The other one is Blas Ople, the serious one,” he said.

The airport, set to start construction, will be a game-changer in the province as it can handle up to 100 million passengers per year, eyed to create about 30 million tourism-related jobs, and generate more than a million direct jobs for the host province Bulacan and nearby provinces.

It will also be a timely shot in the arm for many Overseas Filipino Workers, who lost their jobs and had to return to the country in droves due to uncertain global economic conditions.

“Central Luzon has the most number of OFWs too outside of NCR. With this development, his kababayan will benefit with the airport in the province. This will put Bulacan on the world map now with foreign tourists arriving in a world-class airport built by San Miguel Corporation in his hometown,” Gerard said.

“Because of the Covid19 pandemic, our economy is hit for the next two years. We hope this airport will provide employment to Bulakenyos and also help in the recovery of tourism nationwide which was severely affected by the pandemic,” Gerard added.

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