Atty. Al-Fred Ordinario Concepcion lived an extraordinary life, which may sound like an oxymoron given his middle name.
To the people of Balaoan, La Union, he was indeed an exceptional public servant who earned the moniker “Mr. Aksyon” for leading the transformation of Balaoan from a sluggish and backward locality into a vibrant first-class municipality. Those with evil intent may have ended his life, but his legacy lives on to inspire Balaoanians.
A lawyer by profession and a public servant for nearly 26 years, he served the town of Balaoan and the province of La Union to the fullest.
Atty. Al-Fred would have continued serving the people if not for his untimely demise. He died at the age of 61—a victim of assassination on November 14, 2018 while he was on the way to the municipal hall.
He was survived by his wife Lilia Uy Concepcion and their four children—Mayor Aleli U. Concepcion, Dr. Fred Allison U. Concepcion, Vice Mayor Carlo Castor U. Concepcion and Amiel John U. Concepcion, president of Liga ng mga Barangay in Balaoan.
Dr. Fred, in the necrological service on November 23, 2018, aptly described his father as “an extraordinary man”.
Born on June 2, 1957, Atty. Al-Fred was the first son of the late Judge Castor Zambrano Concepcion and Primitiva Ordinario Concepcion. He studied at the Balaoan Central School where he was known as the shy kid who had stage fright while collecting first honor medals until he delivered his valedictory speech.
He studied high school at the Saint Louis College where he mounted his first serious election campaign—running for president of the SLC Student Council. While he lost that contest, it awakened his desire to serve and run for office.
He studied Economics at the Ateneo de Manila University and looked at this as his pre-law. After graduation, he had a brief stint at the provincial government of La Union, and then a longer tenure at the Philippine Tourism Authority in various capacities while working through night school to earn his Bachelor of Laws degree from the Ateneo in 1983. He passed the Bar with a grade of over 85.
As a newly minted lawyer, he served at the Public Attorney’s Office. “His earlier detour working with a government agency has crystallized into a clear and loud calling for public service, in which he will have a long and sterling career,” said Dr. Fred.
“His first run for public office in 1992 as Provincial Board Member was one for the books,” said Dr. Fred, explaining that while Atty. Al-Fred wanted to run under the same party where his father belonged to, the same politicians whom his father had practically given his life to support were unwilling to make the same commitment to him.
Atty. Al-Fred then ran under the opposition party. “Written off and ignored, he shocked everyone except himself when he captured the last of the five seats in the First District. He got his vindication. The people of the First District of La Union have spoken. The same people will gift him with another two terms as board member,” said Dr. Fred.
Atty. Al-Fred would distinguish himself on the Provincial Board despite being a member of the minority party. “He spoke with wisdom and was uncompromising with his principles,” Dr. Fred recalled.
He served the Provincial Board for three terms from 1992 to 2001. Atty. Al-Fred was elected Vice Mayor of Balaoan in 2001, a position that he held for two terms until 2007 when he became the Municipal Mayor. It is during three terms as mayor that he earned the moniker “Mr. Aksyon”.
“This moniker wasn’t just a soundbite or a catchy campaign slogan. It did not come by accident. It was a result of a transformational leadership that saw Balaoan rise from ignominy to become one of the more progressive and respected municipalities of La Union. After all, it was under his leadership that Balaoan became a first-class municipality,” said Dr. Fred.
During his term, Balaoan experienced growth and progress like it has never seen before, rising from the brink of bankruptcy to become a cash-rich town with sufficient reserves to undertake critical projects, investing in critical infrastructure such as the sanitary landfill, municipal slaughter house, municipal health office and birthing clinic and the municipal hall.
As mayor, Atty. Al-Fred also restored the credit rating of Balaoan by starting to make good on its loan for the construction of the public market. While Balaoan took out a loan for the project under the previous administration, it was only until he assumed office as mayor that repayment began.
Under Atty. Al-Fred’s leadership, Balaoan also earned its first ever Seal of Good Local Governance—the highest award given by the Department of the Interior and Local Government to a local government unit which met the highest standards in the areas of financial administration, environmental management, disaster preparedness and social protection, among others.
After three terms as Municipal Mayor, Atty. Al-Fred was elected Vice Mayor in 2016.
On November 14, 2018, at around 8 a.m., bullets rang through the streets in front of the Balaoan Central School and snuffed the life out of Atty. Al-Fred.
“These bullets came from the belly of the evil one. They were intended to steal, to kill and to destroy. To steal the authority and the power that they are hungry for, but have not been entrusted with; To kill the spirit of the people of Balaoan, sow fear in their hearts and terrorize them through violence; and to destroy our gains as a community, our hope in the future and the joint commitment we share with our leaders Aleli and Al-Fred Concepcion. What they could not hope to get through the ballot, the evil ones tried to get through the bullet,” Dr. Fred said.
“But just when they think they’ve won, is when they’ve actually lost. Because we, the Balaoanians will never let them win. Hinding-hindi,” Dr. Fred said.
“Despite his untimely death, my dad’s legacy will endure, through the love of and fire for public service that now burns in the heart of all his children—because we all want to be like him,” Dr. Fred said, in loving memory of his father—Atty. Al-Fred. Dr. Fred continued: “He inspired Balaoanians who started to exude pride in their town, and in themselves in what they, together can do.”