Besides people engaged in politics such as former First Lady Imelda Marcos and former speaker of the regular Batasang Pambansa (1984-1986) Nicanor Espina Yniguez (he filed the bill creating the province of Southern Leyte), there are also personalities in other fields such as media and entertainment who made their mark on the nation. Foremost among them is Tessie Tomas who has made a profession of imitating Imelda herself from her hairdo to the shoes to the way she speaks and carries herself. This quintessential comedienne pioneered the art of “stand up comedy” and has done some 100 impersonations with astounding effect.
In the field of science, agronomists and scientists from the Leyte State University (LSU) were able to isolate the cause of a disease affecting sweet potatoes (“kamote” in the vernacular) which had confounded people from other countries who also plant sweet potatoes. The identification of the virus greatly helped in mitigating the adverse effects on crop yields since this root crop is a lifesaver for many poor people.
Very few people outside of Leyte may have heard the name of Colonel Ruperto Kangleon. He was the famous guerilla leader during the Japanese occupation of the country during World War II. Although he had done a lot to help the American forces by organizing underground resistance and also providing valuable intelligence information, his career was not without the usual detractors who questioned his motives. He was once captured by the Japanese forces and imprisoned. However, many believed he was freed by his captors to become a double agent who also provided intelligence to the Japanese forces. In short, his military career is shrouded in controversy even to this day as historians have a hard time placing his whereabouts on certain important days and events during the war. Col. Kangleon is Leyte’s most famous son and he was posthumously given the rank of brigadier general 36 years after he died. He had previously served as the Secretary of National Defense and also ran and won as a senator of the republic.