Bye, friend PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 23 June 2015 10:11



San Jose CA. — This is the part of my vocation that I hate — writing a eulogy for a friend.

He would have been a varsity player in high school and college at the Ateneo de Zamboanga, but elected to be the teams’ manager, as was a fitting title, for he was more of class and style, courteous and polite, the gee-whiz kind of guy on campus that every girl adored. He and the late “Mr. Coach” ,Edgar Ilustrisimo, were the dazzling tandem who gave Ateneo multiple ZABA (Zamboanga Amateur Basketball Association) titles in the 60s and 70s.

Benjamin “Nonong” Guingona could have been a congressman if only he willed it. When I first tried to convince him to join politics when his uncle, Teofisto, held mighty influence in the 90s, he just gave me that far-famed, sunny smile and quipped, “I’m not a politician, Bob.” I never relented until he finally gave in and agreed to run with the ticket of “The Tita” for councilor. He, like the Boston Celtics of yore, the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers, was a three-peater. He proved that his mettle wasn’t just about managing, ala Mitch Kupchak, a basketball team, fashion and sports cars. He was “The Man” in all aspects.

The Jesuits, for all the glory and pride that he carried in both his civilian and public life, will consecrate the elements for him and his family. People close to him will tell you how gloriously he lived, not how he painfully died. Goodbye, ol’ chap. See you in the next life.

* * * *

The power situation in Mindanao won’t get any better until immediate and concrete solutions to the woeful state are found. Zamboanga had many mischances to make our city black-out emancipated because of too much bickering and politics in and out of the electric cooperative. That’s a misfortune that retarded our economic growth. The other blow to our stunted growth is the bad peace and order conditions. (But that’s another story.)

Still on our power anguish, the Enhancement Program (EP) meant to make the Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative, Inc. financially viable is moving at a turtle’s pace. Under criticism from almost everybody, including the church, and under extreme pressure from Congressman Celso Lobregat, Mayor Ma. Isabel Climaco-Salazar and the city council, Zamcelco will have to select a consultant to draw up the terms of reference (TOR) for the EP (also defined as Everlasting Power). The time table to achieve this is between now and the end of the year at which time the schedule will include the bidding and selection of the so-called Investment Management Contractor.

If everything turns out right (without political interference), San Ramon Power, Inc. (SRPI) will start building its baseload power plant by the third quarter of 2016. Meanwhile, Alsons Power, SRPI’s mother company, is proposing a short-term and mid-term solution to the power crisis. Within the next two months, Alsons can allocate 10 megawatts of diesel power from its modular generating sets located in Koronadal, South Cotabato and Digos, Davao del Sur. This, I understand, is pending approval by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

The mid-term solution is the allocation of 50 megawatts of diesel power by the Western Mindanao Power Corp. (another Alsons company) located in Sangali starting January next year until SRPI begins to operate its power plant inside the Zamboecozone in 2019. The 50 MW that the Sangali power plant can give Zamcelco will be enough to cover our power deficiency. (As of this writing, I got word that Zamcelco has already agreed to the proposal. Bueno!)