Here comes the son

PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - June 17, 2014 - 12:00am

When then Camarines Sur Gov. Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte and his teenaged son Miguel Luis or “Migz”visited the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum in Boston in 2008, a new bond seemed to grow between father and son.

The museum is dedicated “to all those who through the art of politics seek a new and better world.” I was with their party and I saw how this inspired LRay and Miguel.

“People credit me for creating the CWC (Camarines Sur Watersports Complex) but it was actually my son Migz’s idea. That was what put us in the local and global tourism map, and I credit him for that,” says LRay of his son, now the incumbent Camarines Sur governor.

Indeed, Camarines Sur has gone a long way from just being one of the country’s poorest provinces. Nine years, or three consecutive terms in office, was all it took for LRay to turn the province around. Now, Camarines Sur, or CamSur as it has become widely known, is one of the country’s leading tourist destinations, synonymous with the world-class CWC and the untouched beauty of the beaches of Caramoan, among its other scenic spots.

While the father has taken the backseat, it is now the son’s turn to blaze new paths for the province. Migz says, “I initially had no plans of entering politics. But growing up, I was witness to my dad’s work and I was inspired by the progress he made in CamSur. All his efforts, I didn’t want them to amount to nothing after his term. So I ran. I believe I was the best person to continue what he started.”

LRay challenged his son to see if he was up to the task, “I told Migz to go around, look at CamSur, assimilate himself, interact with the people, see the problems, and formulate ways on how they can be solved. He actually did it. He went through the whole process of campaigning, winning and now serving.”

Making waves as the youngest-elected governor in Philippine history, Migz is set on continuing and even surpassing what his father has accomplished. But while he’s focused on his vision for CamSur, Migz still looks back at his journey towards becoming governor with fondness, “That campaign period was a special time for me and my dad. We were together all the time for a couple of months, supporting each other in the campaign and going through trials together. It definitely made us closer.”

Close may be an understatement to Migz and LRay’s relationship as the two are practically inseparable. Both share a passion for extreme sports like wakeboarding, playing golf and working out. It seems the sense of adventure is something that naturally rubbed off on Migz, as LRay raised him and his siblings to be doers and risk-takers.

“When your kids grow up without fear of taking risks and trying new things, they become confident. Their knees do not fold at the possibility of failure. I believe Migz is exactly that — confident. And this is greatly helping him now in his role as governor. He has the confidence to do what is right, he has the confidence to follow his vision, he has the confidence to put his vision to action,” LRay says proudly.

One of Migz’s goals is to further strengthen CamSur as a destination, which now proudly enjoys more than 2.5 million visitors per year. Recently, he teamed up with master lensman Jun de Leon for the 24/7/7 Project, a never-before-done photography initiative that aims to showcase seven of CamSur’s famous tourist spots through a 24-hour shoot by seven of the country’s top photographers.

“We’re very excited for the 24/7/7 Project because it’s the first of its kind. We’re collaborating with the country’s top photographers and the project will definitely bring CamSur’s beauty to more people,” Migz says.

Apart from tourism, Migz is currently focusing on modernizing CamSur to make it more competitive economically. The provincial government is in talks with telecommunications providers to link the entire province to the Internet. Enhancements to educational facilities such as the introduction of tablet-based learning and energy-efficient classrooms running on solar and wind power are also in the works.

Migz learns from his everyday experiences at the provincial Capitol, but he still looks to his experienced father for guidance, “I admit I’m still learning but I have my father, and he’s the best teacher anyone can have. He guides me but he gives me the freedom to make my own decisions.”

LRay is also all-praises for his eldest son, “Normally, people would consider age or lack of experience as a disadvantage. But in my son’s case, I saw Migz’s vision, passion and commitment to CamSur. Being the youngest elected governor in history and living up to it — meaning working hard with patience and determination — makes me very proud to be Migz’s father.”

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