opinion

Simple, accessible Uy is most logical choice for next CDO mayor

January 30, 2020

AS I wind down my months-long vacation here in Cagayan de Oro City,  I chatted with old and new friends about the local political landscape and not a few of them were in agreement that Rep. Rolando ‘Klarex’ Uy of the city’s first district has a better than average chance of becoming the next city mayor. And it’s not just because he established a name for himself in the City of Golden Friendship as one of the most trusted political lieutenants of the late mayor Vicente ‘Dongkoy’ Emano but for his being outspoken and seeming willingness to chart his own political destiny with little to no hesitation and regrets. Anyone who lived in Cagayan de Oro City at the time Uy ran and sustained a questionable loss to Emano in the 2010 elections knew that it took guts for him to cut his political ties with the then seemingly unbeatable political kingpin of Misamis Oriental despite him being a congressman representing the city’s first district which included the city’s most populated barangay (village). Still the loss didn’t deter Uy from running again for the city’s first congressional district and not only did he regain the seat, he also established a crucial alliance with  now Mayor Oscar Moreno that remains solid to this day and may prove instrumental in his 2022 mayoral bid. Moreno already laid bare his willingness to run anew for governor of Misamis Oriental  In 2022 and he and his people at City Hall have time and again endorsed Uy as the best and most logical choice to sustain the city’s gains and progress in the next nine years.                       ******************* So to those unfamiliar with Uy, what makes him the candidate to beat for Cagayan de Oro City’s mayoral seat? Aside from being an incumbent with a large constituency he also has a wealth of experience and wisdom in governance borne out of his years serving Barangay (village) Carmen as its chairman. Granted that his stint in Congress may not have produced any landmark legislation in either the local or national political landscape but Uy was the kind of lawmaker who remained as unassuming and accessible to his constituents as during his barangay chairman days in Carmen. When some families in Barangay Carmen lost their homes to a fire, not only did Uy visit and commiserated with them, he also helped and assured them that he will continue to help them rebuild their homes and their lives. Simple, really but quite effective in winning their trust. Uy doesn’t make any claim to be a gifted speaker and he always speaks in Visayan to better communicate with his constituents and most, if not all of them are fine with it and actually prefer that he stay that way.  Like most Filipinos, they don’t need someone who speaks well but somebody who can get things done for them. That Barangay Carmen has the most number of investors and businesses in their area even with its obvious geographical advantage speaks volumes about Uy’s leadership in that barangay, the kind of leadership that enabled his wire to serve as his successor for sometime now.               ****************** That and with a son like Vice Mayor Joaquin Raineir ‘Kikang’ Uy who also has an unassuming, yet firm grasp of public sentiment and willingness to serve, the elder Uy is in a position to finally become the mayor of Cagayan de Oro City more than two years from now. By extension, if Uy and Moreno stay the course and continue to forge their partnership, they can fulfill the long term goal to transform and elevate Cagayan de Oro City and its neighbors into Metro Cagayan de Oro, the country’s fourth urban growth corridor next to Metro Manila, Metro Cebu and Metro Davao. I certainly hope that with its combined population and considerable resources, Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental and those local governments covered under Metro Cagayan de Oro can achieve similar, if not better growth than Cebu and Davao. It’s a lot to dream about of course and I for one fervently pray to see the day that my husband Ronnie and I can fly straight from the US to Laguindingan airport which hopefully will be elevated to international airport status and open the doors for Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental to investors and visitors alike. susanap.dennis@yahoo.com

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On revisiting ‘Rambo’ Damasing

January 27, 2020

THE Latin phrase primus inter pares (translated as first among equals) applied to my former boss, former Cagayan de Oro City councilor and later former congressman of the then lone district of Cagayan de Oro Erasmo Damasing.   Damasing is cut from the old school of public officials in that he worked hard to lobby for projects to be implemented in the City of Golden Friendship while elevating Cagayan de Oro into the national political stage during his stint in Congress.   Damasing earned the moniker “Rambo”, the name of the Vietnam veteran commando character popularized by Hollywood great Sylvester Stallone not because of his booming, terse voice but his uncanny ability to supposedly fix any bad situation.   Damasing was my boss at Cagayan de Oro College which operated dxJR COC TV 39 that I managed for several years. He is known among friends for not squandering hard-earned money for frivolous pursuits and for being generous to those in real need.   It’s not so hard to write about Congressman Damasing or President as I refer to him even now. Believe me I’ve so many stories to tell about him and all these stories carry with it a moral lesson at the end. And I feel like reminiscing on these stories.   First of all, he values education so much that it is seared in his soul. Maybe because he rose from poverty and became president of Cagayan de Oro College during which he ordered that an overhead bridge or skywalk be built connecting the two campuses with the Latin phrase “Educatioliberabitvos” or translated as ‘education liberates men from poverty.’ Just like what happened to him and his siblings.    Some personal background: After graduating valedictorian at the Misamis Oriental General Comprehensive High School (MOGCHS) Damasing went straight to the University of the Philippines where he graduated as part of Class ‘59 then passing the bar and becoming a lawyer one year after.   He told me and those who worked for him that he became a student assistant at the College of Engineering at UP to support his studies there while his other brother, also a lawyer, washed dishes to fund his college education.   Erasmo Damasing is a lawyer and labor leader before he joined politics. He was also conferred a doctorate in humanities, Honoris Causa by the Misamis University in November 25,2003.   This year, specifically on July 26, 2020, Damasing will turn 85 years old and during a recent visit I made to his office along with the old crew of COC TV that included now City Information Officer Maricel Casiño-Rivera and Jomar Figuracion, he told us that he is very much contented with his life now.   Happily married to Dr. Annie Propia Estrada of Malaybalay City, Bukidnon they have four children. Damasing’s son Francis is married to Judge Caroline Damasing of the City Court. His other children are Eric, Edgar and Ernie who are all professionals in their chosen fields.   Damasing still has 18 pending cases in court and he wanted to withdraw from these cases in order to rest.  “Lawyers cannot withdraw without the consent of the clients,” he said.  He is a ‘probinsiyano’ having been born and raised in Gitagum town, Misamis Oriental to former vice mayor Custodio Tagarda Damasing and Feliza Daaca Balacuit.   It was his cousin Romarico “Buddy” Marte of Salay town, Misamis Oriental who encouraged him to enter local politics specifically Cagayan de Oro City’s political landscape. In 1967 he was elected city councilor and was re-elected in 1971 with the highest number of votes at the time.   In 1987 he was elected vice mayor of Cagayan de Oro City which he held until 1992, again getting the highest number of votes. And during the 1992 national elections, the first after the post Marcos era, Damasing was elected to the city’s lone congressional district with a margin of 41,636 votes over his nearest rival.   Damasing served as congressman from 1992 until 1998 during which he had the widest margin of 52,644 votes against his rivals in the city’s political history.   While in Congress Damasing sponsored and authored laws of local and national implications. He authored Republic Act 7670 which declared June 15 as Cagayan de Oro City’s Charter Day and thus a special non-working holiday in the city. Damasing also authored RA 7938 (House Bill 3802) or an act converting the Northern Mindanao Medical Regional Training Hospital into Northern Mindanao Medical Center.   The conversion made it possible to allocate P160 millon to upgrade the hospital’s facilities and hiring of additional personnel as well as construction of additional buildings to expand its bed capacity to 100 beds. Damasing also brought to Cagayan de Oro about 1,115 projects for the entire nine year term of office or from July 1, 1992 to January 25, 1998.   Of that number, about 779 of these projects cost P243,302,339.00. Long before I joined local media, I am already familiar with Damasing during my stint in the judiciary.  If I learned that Damasing is listed in the court calendar I make it a point to attend his cases just to hear him argue his case before the presiding judge.   During those times, I am reminded of lawmakers deliberating their points in Congress and when I did see him live in the hallowed halls of Congress in Manila, I was proud to witness him interpolating a fellow legislator. Hopefully I can talk more about the laws he authored sometime after this column is published this week and how it impacted on the city to date. (For comments and questions email me at susanap.dennis@yahoo.com)

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‘Not during my watch’

January 27, 2020

“NOT during my watch. I just want to give little respect to the agony of the Filipinos ....” —President Duterte   DAVAO City--His latest performance rating has soared high with 87 percent  approval rating.   And per SWS  measurement, this translates to an ‘excellent’ over-all grade, an all time high for a President who is about to turn 75 on March 28, this year.   Halfway through his term, his job of ending  the country’s drug menace , killing criminals and sweeping the  corrupt in government  continues without let up.    His mantra ‘Not  during my watch’ , conspicuously displayed  in every nook and cranny in his hometown Davao says it all.    And malpractices in government transactions are no exception to his call of ‘cleaning the house’ before he steps down in 2022.   Earlier, a stern warning has been issued to all   local politicians in Misamis Oriental not to meddle in the soon to be constructed  $4-billion integrated steel facility inside a 305-hectare prime property of Phividec Industrial Estate in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental.   It can be recalled that in 2008,   Hanjin Heavy Industries, a Korean  shipbuilding conglomerate has started building its $2 billion shipyard facility  at the same site only  to pack up later because of widespread corruption  allegedly committed  by local officials.    Hanjin transferred its shipbuilding facility in Subic, Zambales only to suffer huge losses in the initial operations due to mismanagement.   The  First Mindanao Integrated Steel Mill is formed by China’s three leading companies – Huili Fund, Baowu Steel Group Corporation Ltd (China Baowu), and China Metalurgical Group Corporation’s subsidiary, CISDI Group Co Ltd. (CISDI).    China Baowu, the new technical partner to operate the steel mill, currently ranks first in China and second in the world as the largest steel producer in the world measured by crude steel output.    China Baowu is poised  to apply its  state-of-art, green and intelligent technology in this  steel project.    Late last year, a MOA signing  was forged between  Huili Fund Philippines President Jun Hou; Phividec Administrator Atty. Franklin Quijano; Misamis Oriental Governor Yevgeny “Bambi” Emano ; and Simple Homes CEO and President Robertino Pizarro  for the lease with option to purchase the 305-hectare property at Phividec.   The three-phase project will consist of a port, an integrated steel mill with a capacity of 10 million tons, an industrial park and other downstream industries.   Last year’s delay was  perceived as victim  of the rules that keep changing in the middle of the game (ruffy44_ph2000@yahoo.com)

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CAN YOU STILL ...

January 27, 2020

... ROAR WITH LAUGHTER? "If I only knew how!" A friend of mine contacted me yesterday after watching the news and read his daily paper. Another said, "This is hardly the time to do so." Understandable, if I consider his very personal situation. Anyway, it seems we have no more time and no reason for laughter. That can wait until tomorrow, or better until the day after tomorrow. Anticipation is better... . Sure, the today's new really don't allow us even to smile... . But keep in mind: our enemies laugh up their sleeves, and most of the time we miss to recognize the fortune still smiling at us. But hold on: he who laughs last laughs longest. Remember? American neurologist Henri Rubenstein says, laughter lowers high blood pressure while aiding digestion and fostering sleep. Well, give me even a simple smile and believe in what  experts say: "Good humor can help the gravely or terminally ill to hear their ordeal". Of course, if we look around us these days, we might really don't roar with laughter or split our sides laughing. Or even more then this! Have you heard about the incident at the Danish Imperial Theater in Copenhagen/Denmark sometime during the 1980's, when a spectator dropped dead of heart attack while watching the movie "A Fish Called Wanda" starring John Cheese of my favorite Great Britain's Monty Python Comedy Team? Sure, a heart attack is indeed not funny, and honestly, I still love to watch this movie on VHS. Well, even if we think we don't have reasons to laugh,we should try to express mirth spontaneously, and we should try to be merry or gay. We still have reasons to start with the softest form of audible laughter - the vocalized smile. This is what I learned and experienced from the first moment on while travelling in Asia since 1978, and being an expat living in the Philippines since 1999 for good. Keep smiling - even you are overloaded with huge problems. Experts also say,  good humor works because it helps people feel easier in mind. The French psychotherapist Sylvie Tenenbaum stressed, that, in her patients, laughter often signals the dawning of a wholesome awakening to reality. Gallow humor might be dubious in the eyes of others. But try to sing out loud, try to cry, but try to laugh! As a devote Christian,  I do love reading the bible. Ecclessiastes 3:1-4 say: "There is a time for everything ... a time to be born and a time to die ,,, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh!" Worth to think about it - even in times like now! +++ Email: doringklaus@gmail.com or follow me on Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter or visit my www.germanexpatinthephilippines.blogspot.com or www.klausdoringsclassicalmusic.blogspot.com.

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The fantasy of the P7b annual budget

January 24, 2020

IT is good to hear that, at the start of the year, the revenue collection of the city government has improved during the renewal of the business permits and payments of realty taxes. While we see an improvement in the collection, the question still remains. Can the city government really collect or earn as much as P 7 billion this year? The question is inevitable because the reported approved annual budget of the city government for 2020 is P 7 billion. With nothing concrete that can be felt about the development of the city, the P 7 billion budget becomes questionable. The taxpayers are asking on how the P 7 billion is going to be spent. The lack of transparency at the city hall always feed the people’s suspicions that the budget would only be spent to benefit some public officials. Nobody is saying ‘though that city hall is loaded with corruption. The report about the development of new hospitals in the city’s east and west districts are not enough to justify that the city is spending P 7 billion a year. Of course, there is the construction of schools here, there, and everywhere. Will the construction of these school buildings cost as much as P 7 billion, too. Come-on, Sir, the money is not spent only for hospitals and school buildings. There are other projects of the city government like the modern “Golden Home for the Aged” in Upper Puerto and the farm-to-market roads. Isn’t these projects worth P 7 billion? Well, nobody is arguing, but everybody’s asking a question. Can the city government make public its annual expenses for the last two years – 2018 and 2019? At least, the doubting Thomases would be given a clear and direct information on how the city government spent the taxpayers’ money. No matter, nobody believes that the city government could collect or earn P 7 billion a year. Unless, the geniuses at the city’s finance committee have studied the secret of magic, a collection of P 7 billion to replenish the city’s expenses is next to impossible. Did the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) approved the city’s annual budget? Anyway, there are still lots of things to be done. Perhaps, the city government could really collect P 7 billion a year and spent the money in a year’s time? The taxpayers are simply questioning that if the city government collects only a little over than P 300 million for the first quarter of 2020, then the collection of P 7 billion for the year is nothing, but a desperate dream.

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A moment of renewal, recovery with Fr. Jun

January 24, 2020

AMID my convalescence,  I managed to attend  the Anointing of the Sick officiated by Rev. Father Jun Balsamo, SSJV last week. The activity was attended by members and friends of Thrive CDO, a group of breast cancer survivors and patients organized by Karen Lluch years ago.  The group had since grown big through the years. Last week was my first time to attend the anointing but I know it is one of the Blessed Sacraments of the Catholic church and as a graduate of a Catholic school, I used to know it as the holy unction. Am not sure if there was a change of name or whether it is still the same. The anointing of the sick is a Catholic Church sacrament administered to ailing or aging Catholics and the administering priests use holy water and holy oil and offer prayers for them. I get goosebumps recalling the sins of parents and grandparents mentioned in a prayer during one service and the prayer of forgiveness is offered to clean the family of sins committed by one of their own. During these prayers, I close my eyes and shut off all noise as I concentrate my mind to recall all possible sins I may have committed as well as those committed by my family so I can ask forgiveness from the Lord. I especially think about my paternal grandfather Felix Quilang Naelga because I recalled opening the old jar where he placed a banana inside without permission. The prayers would last two hours with signs of crosses made in every prayer. I’ve never been sprinkled with a lot of holy water in my whole life except that one time. The administering priest would then give the blessing by making the sign of the cross with holy oil on the foreheads, eyes, lips, nose, chest and feet of the faithful. By administering the holy oil on the nose, the priest said the faithful would be able to smell the perceived fragrance of the Lord as well as see with their eyes the Lord’s grandeur despite our predicament. Last week’s anointing of the sick was special and meaningful for the 10 of us members of Thrive CDO in attendance plus the members of Chona Hay’s family who hosted the activity. I see it in their faces and it was especially meaningful for Chona’s sister Emma who has a second bout with cancer and for another sister. I posted pictures of the activity in my Facebook page and Dr. Manny Jaudian, Phd and a former dean of Cagayan de Oro College-Phinma’s College of Criminology saw the photos and immediately tecognized Father Jun Balsamo as a former student. It turned out that the good priest now heads the Ministry of Deliverance and Exorcism of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro. Father Balsamo told us that any Catholic family should instill in their members the value of prayers in their daily lives and should not allow mobile devices like cell phones to dictate on their routines. It was really an inspiring time with the priest and I look forward to meeting him again. And I came to know that Father Balsamo is from Baluarte, Tagoloan town in Misamis Oriental where I was born amd raised. Pure coincidence I must say.  Rev.Fr.Roberto Dela Cuesta Balsamo,SSJV is the son of Roberto Balsamo,Sr. and Ursula Dela Cuesta Balsamo Good luck Father Jun in your ministry which I know to be more relevant in these troubling times. ************** Still talking about churches, I am very pleased to notice that my temporary church,  the St. Francis Xavier Parish Uptown Church is slowly taking shape. Since my husband Ronnie and I visit the Philippines twice a year, the St. Francis Xavier Parish Uptown Church had been my spiritual anchor.  For sometime now I didn’t understand why construction on the church had been slow when I believe that it is surrounded by moneyed, generous parishioners. Last Christmas season I saw this generosity in action with the parishioners sharing their blessings. Way to go Most Reverend Father J Julius Clavero,SSJV  you are fortunate that you have able parishioners like Dr. Dures Tagayuna and retired Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Evelyn Gamotin Nery volunteering for the church. Let this church withstand the test of time and I am humbled to have helped it a little. (For comments and questions email me at susanap.dennis@yahoo.com)

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