March madness PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 05 March 2016 13:55



San Diego, CA. — When the gates swing open and they gallop like crazy to the finish line the last week of March, political civil war shall have commenced among friends and relatives. They have been confederates in the past and the electors will have a difficult time deciding who to vote for. My guess is that the turnout of voters on May 9 will be the lowest that shall be recorded in our electoral history because this election has not elicited any excitement even for first-time voters. Not even the candidacy of Rodrigo Duterte.

I hate to see friends turning into foes because of politics. There’s no such thing as a “fight lang” notion just because they were pitted against each other out of political greed.

In 1979 when they saw the futility of being political rivals for decades, Cesar C. Climaco and Hector C. Suarez buried the hatchet in their twilight years to form a united opposition in Zamboanga to battle the vaunted Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL). They were bitter political enemies — Climaco was the flag-bearer of the Liberal Party, while Suarez led the Nacionalistas. Together, they formed the Concerned Citizens Aggrupation (CCA). Thus, “El Turtuga” and the “Macau” joined forces to overwhelmingly defeat the KBL in the first democratic election held during Martial Law in 1980.

Instead of uniting, our leaders chose to clash, each one claiming “ownership” to Zamboanga. No one can claim that Zamboanga is theirs, because this land in ours. Zamboanga, unlike Davao and other cities in Mindanao, has hundreds of political stories to tell — from Valderrosa to Climaco-Salazar, the latest being the “Musa Controversy”. Now it seems that everyone — barbers and beauticians, businessmen and fixers, tricycle drivers and salesmen — have become eligible to talk about politics in Zamboanga and how and why the two recognized leaders have drifted apart.

There is a wrong notion, even from local journalists, that Zamboanga is a little known jewel in a showroom of highly-urbanized city. She is not! We have been looked down by other premier cities because we hardly could advance in all categories. The worsening law and order conditions in our city helped make that bad image. But we’re not as bad as we are pictured to be. Yes, we are the third city in the country with a high rate of criminality next to Manila and Quezon cities. That’s because of “imported crimes”. Grudges and feuds from Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi among armed clans are brought to Zamboanga. And guess what city has the fourth highest number of crime occurrences? But we persevered and survived.

Zamboanga was a dandy in the ’50s and ’60s, a city absolutely clean and peaceful despite the varying cultures and mixed dialects. We were tilting toward a beautiful and promising culture...until the bad and sad stories begun. Our city was darkened as in the days of “Mad Max” and “The Terminator”. We had to struggle living so arrogantly opposed to the regime of Ferdinand E. Marcos that development was hard to accrue. But our position as an opposition city drew us together.

To his credit, Mr. Celso L. Lobregat gathered some of the great thinkers together when he took office as congressman in 1998. He converted Zamboanga into a hub that attracted businesses. Of course, he wasn’t alone. His beloved mother was ever present beside him. Mr. Lobregat cast the seed on the empty ground and helped a city sprout fruitfully. AND ALL THAT FOR NOTHING!

As he combined his untold energy with his brilliant mind, he laid the foundation for our bright future — only to destroy it as he sought to divide Zamboanga into bitter sectarian lines. My impression of him as a master political architect able to build a city from its economic ruins and unite its people is all GONE. From building a city of the future, we are now back to the future. Ha! What a waste of energy and resources. But wait — one reconciliation dinner with his former friends and partners will do no harm, will it? It’s time for Madam Lolita Chua to wield her magic wand.

Mr. Lobregat, Mayor Climaco-Salazar and their followers are movers in their respective fields of endeavor. Mr. Lobregat can rattle off a lecture on the controversial Bangsamoro basic law for two straight hours without water and have everyone in the room transfixed. Mrs. Climaco-Salazar can talk for not more than 15 minutes and have her audience awed by her general pronouncements.

While they’re not running against each other, we will have a situation similar to the ’90s when Atty.  Vitaliano D. Agan as the mayor and Mrs. Lobregat was our representative in congress. They differed in opinions all the time. Thus, Zamboanga stumbled to uncertainty.

Things tamped down after the Agan era and we went back to finding our meaning as we hailed the Lobregat-Lobregat dynasty and their combined visions of advancement. With their wingman Manny Dalipe at the wheel of the Zamboecozone, nothing could go wrong for Zamboanga. Or so I thought.

Assuming that Mr. Lobregat and the mayor get re-elected, narrowly or decisively, Zamboanga will drive down a rough road for the next three years — just like the Agan-Lobregat era. Oh me, oh my. We’ll be back to “que serra, serra”.

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