LUCENA CITY— People of Quezon commemorate today, Monday, the greatness of Rafael Nantes, the province’ late governor who died in a helicopter crash on May 17, 2010.
Shortly after its take off at 3 p.m., the chopper crashed and exploded in the residential area of Jael Subdivision at Brgy. Ibabang Iyam in this city killing Nantes, his two aides and the pilot on the spot.
Nantes’ dreams for the province which he shared to his constituents in a public speech early that day also perished with him.
His wake was joined by thousands of grieving people and supporters including then President Noynoy Aquino.
Nantes who was fondly called Kuya Raffy by friends and constituents came from a poor family. As a child, he sold fish in the island town of Polillo, Quezon. He also worked as a shoeshine boy in Camp Aguinaldo. He later became a Mechanical Engineer and a successful businessman with the help of his wife Betty who was later appointed by Aquino as director of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) and Philippine Red Cross- Quezon.
He was also an inventor of industrial battery and was recognized and awarded by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).
He was elected representative of Quezon for three consecutive terms from 1998 to 2007 and eventually became governor of the province. He prioritized the livelihood of his constituents through his program NANTES PO.
With his wife Betty, Nantes launched the Panahiang Pangkabuhayan para sa Kababaihan Katuwang ang Ugnayan ng Nagkakaisang Kababaihan sa Quezon (UNA KA SA QUEZON). He also spearheaded the construction of infrastructure projects including farm-to-market roads, bridges and school buildings.
Nantes gave importance on agriculture and fishery sectors and fought for the welfare of small coconut farmers. He also widened the electrification program and put up light houses in the island and coastal towns in Northern Quezon. He was the author of the transformation of Southern Luzon Polytechnic College to Southern Luzon State University and the municipality of Tayabas to Tayabas City.
His legacy and advocacy are being continued by his wife and only son, Samuel Nantes who was elected Vice- Governor for 3 consecutive terms from 2013 up to 2019.