June 21, 2024

Author Sukhendo-Roy Chowdhury wrote “A complete person is he who has lived his life to the fullest, given to the world his best, always thought good of the world, all his traits found full fruition, and failures could not subdue his indomitable spirit.”
At 85, Bernardo M. Vergara has lived his life to the fullest.
On Dec. 4, he celebrated his natal day with a bang at the Baguio Country Club by launching a coffee table book “One for the Road!” This historic event completed his journey and become a complete man.
Born in 1937 in Tubao, La Union, he had an endearing rural nickname of “Narding.”
His humble beginnings motivated him to seek education and achieve stability for his family.
He strived hard to finish his studies, starting his elementary under the public school system to a Belgian-run-high school, graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering, then passed the board.
Along the way, he met an Ilocana – Ar. Gloria Asprec and their love blossomed. Together they established their family amidst the ridges and stones of QM with their six beautiful children – James, Gladys, Jun, Jona, Gay, and Glenda.
At age 30, Narding became the youngest district engineer in the country.
As a public servant, he wore several hats – Philippine Tourism Authority general manager, four-term congressman and Baguio City mayor.
Narding was a natural leader as he inspired his followers with his unique strategic vision and relentless passion to make Baguio a haven of the nation.
He was actually my mentor in my two terms in Congress.
On May 2, 2013, I wrote in the Baguio Midland Courier my thoughts about him:

Like you, I nurture a simple dream of living a life that is good right here in our beloved city, principally for the sake of the family we are raising in utmost dignity, hope for the future, and a deepening faith in our Creator.
I have come to the inevitable conclusion that we can only serve our city best by choosing the most qualified from the ranks of aspirants running for public office.
As one who has had the opportunity of serving our people in Congress as a youth sector representative in the 1990s, I have decided to declare my full support for a manong to me and my family – BMV. This decision is based on a simple three-point criteria:
First, manong Bernie has the widest and most solid experience in addressing our people’s needs not by the wisdom of legislation alone, but by the significant projects and programs that he has implemented in raising Baguio’s stature as a center of education, tourism, business generation.
Second, manong Bernie is a tried and tested leader in Congress, achieving by hard work and fierce determination many significant accomplishments that have helped bolster Baguio as a modern city.
As a fund-sourcer, he has obtained needed funds that advanced the city’s socio-economic growth, balanced by an equitable sharing of government assistance for scholarships, accessible healthcare, urgent medical attention, and important job-generating and livelihood augmenting programs.
Third, manong Bernie has a clear vision of the future Baguio, reason why he has continued to be sensitive to our youth, respectful of our elders, attentive to our marginalized constituents – the women, children, jobless and the disadvantaged, especially persons with disabilities whose productive potential he strives to maximize. He is an environmental advocate who does what he preaches, leading the youth and concerned sectors in bamboo propagation drives that seek to replenish dwindling forest covers.
I may have had political and other differences with manong Bernie but being the gentleman that he is, he was always ready to take in a prodigal brother. But for me these differences are matters that cannot compare with the big issues at stake. Nothing matters more than having to make an intelligent choice on who can best serve Baguio in the next Congress, having in mind personal qualifications, leadership style, experience in governance, and a clear platform of things that are doable.
With honor and humility, we who love Baguio are certainly better off by supporting Vergara’s sincere desire to continue working for the sustained progress of our beloved city, working in harmony with other public officials, and in constant consultation with stakeholders who are as if not more than concerned over Baguio’s future.”
My sentiments for manong Bernie in 1992 to 2013 remains. He has indeed completed his journey as a man.