Phenomenal rise PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 02 September 2015 10:51



Los Angeles, CA. — At dawn of September 9, 2013, and barely three months into the ascendancy of Mrs. Ma. Isabelle G. Climaco-Salazar as mayor, 500 well-armed, highly-trained commandos of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) attacked Zamboanga city, destroying and burning down buildings and houses, holding hostage civilians in their path and straight-jacketing the city for weeks.

The siege ravaged four barangays, crippled our economy and further reinforced the world’s perception that Zamboanga is a dangerous place to live in. (I pity my cousin, Sarita. How’s she going to fix that?)

A few days from now, Zamboanga will observe this sad day. On the positive side, the siege brought good effects to our city. With the help of the national government and foreign donors such as the United Nations, the displaced people now have new, decent homes. The sports complex, instantly converted into a subdivision for Muslim evacuees, will now undergo a major facelift. The city has miraculously bounced back economically and socially.

I heard that SM and Robinson’s are finally coming to town to add to the almost-done KCC Mall of Zambo. We now have the “battle of the malls”. Soon, Guardia Nacional will be a ghost commercial avenue like Escolta.

Part of Rio Hondo shall be converted into a naval base, crushing all hopes of drug dealers and gun-runners from making this barangay their staging point. Also, the U.N. has offered support to re-zone the ravaged barangays so that those communities would have roads, not dark and dangerous alleys you see only in squatter areas.

Henceforth, the honorable mayor, if she intends to observe September 9 by recalling a murderous attack on Zamboanga,  can take center stage and deliver a commemorative speech, complete with high and low pitches, gestures and pitiful tears. That will be her most glorious moment to defend her BUILD-BACK-BETTER program from criticisms and envy from her rivals and even political friends wanting her to vacate city hall.

She must seize this moment to list down her grand designs for Zamboanga, a city finally advancing into an economic stronghold beneficial to everybody. Forget about the BBL or the new autonomous region in Mindanao. We are out of that political entity, neither are we contiguous to it. Rep. Celso L. Lobregat made sure of that. A round of applause. It’s time to THINK ZAMBOANGA.

Rep. Celso L. Lobregat sponsored a commemorative luncheon program to remember his and the other petitioners’ victory against the Memorandum of Agreement-Ancestral Domain, Bangsamoro Juridical Entity seven years ago. Were the other petitioners invited? I recall that it was then Congressman Erbie Fabian who filed the petition FIRST through his lawyer, Jun Esguerra. Nonetheless, it was a concerted victory that shocked and awed Malacanang.

As a footnote, Mr. Lobregat’s snippings at the BBL will get him into trouble not only with the government but more so with the recipient of the bill. We lost a silver, long-haired Cesar for his anti-Marcos posture. We don’t want to lose an eloquent Mark Anthony. You made your point, sir. You have made, like Mao Zedong, “a thousand thoughts contend.”

Going back to the “September to Remember”, we mark 9/9 with tears. Church bells should ring, wreaths laid and our cries for justice resonating as we recover from the attack that cost lives and millions in damage. But we remain unbroken for it wasn’t the first time we came under the barrel of the gun by the MNLF.

The rebuilding goes on. Hopefully, some people wish, for another six or so years, for Zamboanga has rebounded phenomenally.