Department of Migrant Workers Secretary Susan "Toots" V. Ople addressing Bulacan officials led by Gov. Daniel Fernando and Vice Gov. Alex Castro, his brother former Board Member Felix V. Ople and other board members during the celebration and commemoration of the 96th birth anniverdwry of her father "Gat. Blas Ople," known as Bulacan's Modern Day hero. Photo by Anton Luis Reyes Catindig

CITY OF MALOLOS–Gov. Daniel Fernando on Friday led other Bulacan officials and residents in commemorating through a special non-working holiday the 96rh birth anniversary of considered province modern day hero, “Gat Blas F. Ople” with this year’s theme, Dakilang Bulakenyo, Bayani ng Manggagawang Pilipino”. 

Fernando joined by Vice Gov. Alex Castro, Board Members Allan Andan, Mina Fermin and Ople’s son, former Board Member Felix Ople, Provincial Administrator Antonette Constantino and the rest of the heads of the Capitol offered a wreath before the bust of the hero in front of the Provincial Employment Service Office building. The structure was named Ople Building in honor of the great statesman from the province.  

The governor expressed full admiration and salute to the wit, wisdom, dedication, sincerity and love and compassion for the poor people of the late Senator Ople who has also served as Minister of Labor, Senate President, Foreign Affairs Secretary, Father of Philippine Labor Code, Father of Overseas Filipino Workers, Father of Overtime Pay and crafter of international foreign policies. 

Fernando said because of the greatness of Ople, a true son of Bulacan and the province and even among the country’s modern day hero, he witnessed how Bulakenyos showed their love and admiration to him. He sais he saw families in front of their homes paused and wiped their tears and waved Philippine flags when Ople’s hearse traversed Paseo del Congreso and other major streets in this city and in his home town Hagonoy when his family brought home his remains just after he died on December 14, 2003 while on board a plane for an official trip in Taiwan.

Fernando urged Bulakenyos to emulate the said patriotism, greatfullness and humbleness of Gat Blas Ople in their everyday lives as a leader and as an ordinary Filipino. 

Ople’s daughter, Department of Migrant Workers Secretary Susan “Toots” Ople who was guest of honor and speaker announced giving scholarship to Bulakenyo nursing students as her and their family’s way of continuing the legacy of helping the Bulakenyo people that was left by her father. 

She said 3rd and 4th year nursing students in Bulacan State University will be provided the scholarship in return of working in the country for two years. After their graduation, they then will decide whether they will work abroad or remain serving our countrymen.

Ople offered a poem to her father as she thanked him for all the wisdom, learning, humbleness and love for the Filipino people she learned from him as a child and as a public servant. 

“What inspires me to serve our country today, particularly the migrant workers and their families are the same love, dedication and service my father had being the Father of Overseas Filioino Workers,” she said. 

The Secretary thanked the late President Ferdinand Marcos for the opportuinity given to his father and his son President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for the trust of making her the first woman head of the migrant workers. “Dalawang Marcos ang nagbukas ng pinto sa ating dalawa,” (Two Marcoses opened the door for us). 

Ople who was born and raised by a fisherman father and vendor mother in Hagonoy was known as the architect of Philippine foreign polcies being the Father of Philippine Lahor Code, the Overseas Filipino Workers. He became Minister of Labor during the late Ptesident Marcos time and later became Foreign Affairs Secretary and Senate President before he died in 2003. 

Born on February 3, 1927 and known as a a barefoot valedictorian when his parents only borrowed the shoes he wore during his graduation in Hagonoy public school, he also became a journalist and a war hero before he started being a stateman.