So long but not farewell

Published June 18, 2021, 6:00 AM

by Fil C. Sionil

For the generation of Baby Boomers, the 1965 American musical drama “Sound of Music” based on the memoir of 1949 “The Story of the Trapp Family Singers” that starred Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer was the music of our youth.

 Among the array of songs in the musical drama, “So Long, Farewell” was one of those that left a spot in me because it speaks of the inevitable of saying goodbye, not in a cry moment fashion but in a bouncy rendition.

   … “There’s a sad sort of clanging from the clock in the hall; And the bells in the steeple, too; And up in the nursery, an absurd little bird is popping out to say coo-coo; Regretfully they tell us coo-coo; But firmly they compel us to say goodbye, coo-coo, to you!”

This is may be how the Department of Finance (DOF) icons – Undersecretaries Ma. Teresa “Tere” Habitan and Gil Beltran- feel as both will soon bade their adieu to their DOF family, which both served for more than four decades.

In her facebook post Wednesday last week, Usec Tere wrote; “Today, I celebrate 44 years of working at the DOF. In a few months I will be retiring the high heels that have been the trademark accessory of a woman civil servant and would certainly be spending a lot less time on meetings. In the meantime, here’s cheers to me and the 44 years of being in this complicated relationship with the Department of Finance.”

Usec Tere and Usec Gil will be retiring this third quarter, around October, shortly before the election ban sets in and the song-and-dance campaign of candidates for the national positions starts.

Like in the song, it will be so long DOF family for both. It’s a passing of an era – the cool and never been perturbed Usec Gil, who accepts any responsibility given him. Okay, I’ll you let you in in a secret. A few years back, the top honcho of the DOF, who for the life of me and the rest, cannot comprehend his seeming insecurity that he transferred Usec Gil as head of the domestic finance group to the management service group, in charge of the nitty-gritty of building maintenance and other related services.

But, it is not altogether farewell. Both will resurrect as your friendly neighborhood professors at the Philippine Tax Academy, where both teach whenever their schedules allow it. This time around, the responsibility though will be full-time.

I heard from the DOF corridor that Assistant Secretary Ma. Edita “Didith”Z. Tan, a first rate in meticulousness in documentation requirements for any government fund-raising, will be replacing Usec Gil in the domestic finance group. Do I take this to mean Asec Didith  will relinquish her hold of the International Finance Group.

While on the subject of saying goodbyes, a salute to former Finance Usec Antonio P. Belicena who joined our Creator last June 2. He was a dedicated and respected civil servant who I had the privilege of knowing when I was covering the DOF and BSP beats. 

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