Former ‘Xerox boy’ goes to Congress
Raneo E. Abu, 46, a native of Bauan town in Batangas, worked as a photocopying attendant at the Committee Support Services Division of the Philippine Senate from 1990 to 1992.
On June 3, Abu went back to the Senate to become a guest speaker.
After his recent proclamation as newly elected representative of the second district of Batangas in the May 13 elections, Abu was invited by former coworkers to give the inspirational message at the flag-raising rites.
“This is a very rare opportunity for a lowly government employee like me to be given this chance to inspire my former coworkers. I am very much thankful of this opportunity,” said Abu in his speech.
He said during the campaign trail, nobody believed that he was a “Xerox boy.” “They thought I was just making up a tale so I could win,” said Abu.
He recalled how at the age of 19, working from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., he would read a lot while photocopying minutes of the meeting, records and documents needed by the senators, and the Local Government Code.
“The whole day I was preoccupied and bent over the copying machine at the hallway,” he said.
After two to three months, although his item was still that of a clerical worker, Abu was already doing secretarial work for the office.
Abu’s stint in government service started in 1988 when he became a youth development assistant in the office of then Batangas governor Vicente Mayo.
In 1992, he went back to Bauan, ran as municipal councilor and won. He finished the first term but did not run again because his father was dying of liver cancer.
His father asked him to help Hermilando Mandanas who was then running for Batangas governor. Abu served as executive assistant for Mandanas, a position that he kept until 2004 when he was appointed supervising political affairs officer in the House of Representatives under the office of Mandanas.
In the May 13 elections, as a candidate for the Nacionalista Party, Abu won against his more popular rival, movie actor Christopher de Leon of the Liberal Party, by more than 70,000 votes. Abu also won against Godofredo Berberabe of the United Nationalist Alliance.
“I held on to the strong belief that the Batangueño does not look at personalities but at what I could do for the people,” he said.
After completing elementary and high school in public schools in Bauan, Abu took up general engineering at Batangas State University in 1984 to 1985 before shifting to political science at University of Batangas from 1986 to 1989.
Ice plant worker
Abu, however, was unable to finish his political science course because he needed to work and help his parents. His mother was a housewife while his father was a mechanic who became blind due to an accident.
After the accident, his father lost his job but was lucky an ice plant hired him and helped him get an artificial eye.
“I was also crushing ice,” said Abu who recalled having to work at the ice plant every summer so he could support his studies.
He said their family never owned a house until two years after his father’s death when his sister went to Dubai to work and helped provide a house for them.
“My only regret which I could not forget is that I was unable to provide a television set for my father. We used to watch TV in other people’s homes,” he said.
Raneo’s wife Maripaz is leaving on Friday for Italy where she will continue her work as a domestic helper.
“I tried to stop her because I could provide for the family but she reasoned out that the salary of a politician is enough only for the people and she wanted to save for our children,” he said.
Soon to assume office as a new congressman, Abu said he would continue Mandanas’ scholarship program for college students in the second district of Batangas. Right now, the district has 2,000 scholars and he is planning to increase the number among the underprivileged but qualified youth.