Sonny and his fruits PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 11 August 2015 11:18

BEHIND  THE  LINES

BY BOB JALDON

Los Angeles, CA. — Holy mackerel. Durian, marang, mangosteen, mango, rambutan, lanzones and all other tropical fruits found only in Zamboanga. Wow! Sonny Cortez is enjoying the fruits of his labor. Since he started planting over 10 years ago, his farm is full of fruit trees and vegetables, even live animals like pigs.

Most people envy the kind of retirement life Sonny and his wife are living. Some of his high school classmates are into small-and-medium scale businesses, others have migrated to foreign countries. Sonny was a Boy Scout  leader in high school. I was a tenderfoot when he was a Rizal Scout. His educational attainment and career with the United Nations based in Rome is worthy enough to merit a consultancy job at City Hall.

Sonny studied at the Ateneo de Manila University and earned a degree in economics, major in urban planning. At a time when Zamboanga is rapidly moving in terms of infrastructure, urban planning becomes essential (individuals can form communities, said Benjamin Disraeli) so that we don’t intermix residential communities with industrial/commercial zones. Not that our city planning office is incapable or incompetent of putting things in order. I believe in the ability of Rodrigo Sikat, a former employee of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), but he needs all the help he can get.

Mr. Cortez’s experiential knowledge transcends many in the city planning office because he has traveled around the world and has seen communities rise from scourge to boon and  bounty. I think his cousin, the mayor, should seek his advice in rebuilding Sta. Catalina, Sta. Barbara and Rio Hondo, three barangays ravaged by the violent siege in 2013. He is now into farming because he worked with the Food Agriculture Organization of  the U.N. He has seen the detestable effects of poverty and degradation, even famine.

There are other Zamboanguenos, not necessarily Jesuit-trained, whose knowledge and expertise in various fields can be tapped by the city government, similar to what Ferdinand E. Marcos did when he loaded up his cabinet with the brightest of minds.

Next year’s proposed executive budget will run to more than P2.5 billion. How much has been allocated for capital outlay versus personal services, operational and administrative services? We need a budget that will directly address infrastructure development, aside from the usual health and education programs. We need to open more roads to minimize downtown traffic and congestion within city limits. We have to widen our city and national roads to compliment the increasing volume of transportation, especially the annoying tricycles and smoke-belching jeepneys. By so doing, we shall be creating jobs. We should train tricycle drivers to work in industries so we may be able to cut down the fleet of three-wheelers.

There are pressing economic matters to deal with other than a broken record like the Bangsamoro Basic Law which is going to be passed anyway we look at it. Madre mia. We’re not included in the Bangsamoro political entity. What’s in there that our political leaders don’t understand? Is this the only platform of government that they have right now to keep them in the headlines and awe (we are already) the voters about their sense of pride and patriotism? We are 98 percent against the inclusion of Zamboanga in the Bangsamoro.

We need more developmental projects assisted by the private sector. We need more Eco parks and theme parks to attract not only our rural folks, but also domestic tourists. If he get Cabatangan, that mountain can be converted into a wonderland.