BAGUIO, Philippines – The amiable, chain-smoking “grand old man of Dagupan” succumbed to cancer early Thursday morning, August 9, at the age of 75 in Manila.
Alipio “Al” Fernandez Jr was elected mayor of Dagupan in 1992 and then served the post for two more terms.
He was most at ease governing on the streets, meeting with fish vendors at the market, and discussing poetry with writers at Dagupeña Restaurant.
“I grieve deeply for the passing of a friend, a most charming, engaging, witty man whose presence lightens any burden, his jokes dancing with the rings of smoke, as he fiddles with his cigarette, and recites lines from his favorite poets, over a bottle of beer,” said Virginia Jasmin Pasalo, a commissioner of the Pangasinan Historical and Cultural Commission.
Fernandez belongs to a political family. His father, Alipio Fernandez Sr, was mayor when Dagupan became a chartered city on June 20, 1947.
Fernandez Jr became city councilor in 1971. He disappeared from the political map during the Martial Law years and returned after the EDSA Revolution, when he won as vice mayor in 1986.
After his 3 terms as mayor, Fernandez became undersecretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government and was later appointed as head of the Bureau of Immigration.
His return as mayor in 2010 was thwarted by former representative Benjie Lim, who later had to step down after suffering a stroke. Fernandez’s running mate, Belen Fernandez (not related), succeeded as mayor and is still Dagupan mayor.
“Today, Dagupan lost a true visionary leader, pioneer, and dedicated public servant,” Mayor Belen said. “Personally, I mourn the passing of a wise mentor, dependable counsel, and dear friend.”