‘Palo Alto’ reaps praises from Lobregat , friends PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 13 July 2015 11:47

The testimonial dinner for erstwhile City Administrator Antonio “Palo Alto” Orendain Jr. hosted by First District Representative Celso Lobregat Saturday night was a memorable, relaxing and intimate evening of friendship, gratitude and trust for a man who spent over 15 years in the service of Zamboanguenos.

Orendain ended his service in the local government June 30 after 15 years and 7 months as City Administrator. And on Saturday, (July 11) Lobregat and friends gathered to give him a send-off to remember at his testimonial dinner.

Cong. Lobregat personally attended to the details of the special event to make sure that it will be the perfect time to show to the no non-sense city administrator who served his administration for three full terms, how grateful and appreciative he is. “My admiration and gratitude to Jun Orendain has always been there and I cannot let this moment pass without tendering a testimonial dinner in honor of Jun Orendain,” the solon said in welcoming guests and friends to the affair held at a local hotel in Gov. Camins.

Indeed it was a perfect evening: the setting, the food and most of all the people present that included Orendain’s wife and children, Mayor Beng Climaco (who left earlier to attend another event happening at the same time in another building of the hotel), Cong. Lilia Nuno, Vice Mayor Cesar Iturralde and members of the City Council, City department heads, Orendain’s close friends and former colleagues in the local government, friends from the academe, business sector, media, civil society groups,  Zone III barangay officials and numerous others.

Lobregat in his testimony recalled how Orendain believed in his capabilities and encouraged him to run for Congress in 1998 when he was dubbed by his opponents as a “non-entity”. Orendain was one of the few barangay chairmen who supported Lobregat’s candidacy which the latter handily won.

And after the 1998 elections, with the late Maria Clara Lobregat, Celso’s mother, as the elected mayor, the newly-elected congressman recommended Orendain to be the City Administrator paving the way for his over a decade of service and dedication to the City of Zamboanga. “I did not make a mistake in making the recommendation because he turned out to be the man for the job. His service spans four mayors or administrations,” Lobregat averred.

Orendain proved to be a no non-sense enforcer of the law when he successfully enforced then Mayor Caling Lobregat’s plan to clear the then controversial CDCP area, which is now known as Paseo del Mar.

“This is the reason why when we developed and operated the Paseo del Mar and the Plaza Pilar, we placed it under the supervision and control of the City Administrator because it was the realization of Jun Orendain’s and Mam Caling’s dreams to make the area a tourism hub,” Lobregat said.

Confirming other testimonies, Lobregat said Orendain served with dedication regardless of time, interests and circumstances.

“Ele el un servidor publico que ta reporta temprano na trabajo y ta sirvi lampas na hora si necesita. He was also one public servant who did things right even if it was not popular which could be the reason why he was defeated in his bid for councilor during the 2007 elections because of his firm stance as enforcer of laws.”

Lobregat hoped that the former administrator will decide to continue serving the people of Zamboanga in another capacity in the future stating that Orendain can still do so much for the city.

Zone III incumbent barangay chairman Jerry Sanson talked about the role of Orendain during his days as barangay chairman while Zamcelco board of Director Wilhelmino Bazan spoke about Orendain’s initiatives as Zamcelco Board President specifically the reforms instituted that clamped on illegal connections and improved collection efficiency.

Nathaniel Asuncion, Market Superintendent IV talked about Orendain’s characteristics as a jolly person but uncompromising when on matters of law enforcement while City Tourism Officer Sarita Hernandez detailed Orendain’s involvement in the planning and execution of tourism plans and programs during Celso’s term as mayor when the city introduced a myriad of Fiesta events as a form of tourism promotion. She described Orendain as a principled man.

Executive Assistant Mario Roca narrated how he and Orendain, both unskilled in dancing and singing, struggled during the 2007 elections. They both lost in their bid for council seats. Roca as well described Orendain’s characteristics as public servant specifically in answering to the call of duty no matter what time of the day even to the point of sacrificing family events if there are matters of grave concern.

Assistant City Administrator Elmeir Jade Apolinario espoused on Orendain’s values to do things right even if they are not popular which oftentimes earned the ire of some people and even some friends. For his part, Red Cross Zamboanga Administrator Vic Liozo Jr. averred that with Orendain’s departure from the City Administrator’s office, coordination with the City for important activities would be a little tough recounting how efficient Orendain was when it came to facilitating requests from the Red Cross and other civic organizations.

Aside from the personal testimonies, video messages from Orendain’s former staff and co-workers were also played over dinner. Though grateful for the opportunity to have worked with a conscientious boss, they all expressed gloom as Orendain had to leave the government service. “We miss you Sir Jun,” they conveyed.

In his response, Orendain thanked Lobregat for the accolades as well as the elaborate ceremony tendered in his honor. He acknowledged friends who gave their testimonies “you are brave hearts, indeed true friends, as Confuscious said it’s better to have good friends in bad times than bad friends in good times but it’s best to have true friends all the time.”

The unassuming Orendain said the recognition and the accolades bestowed on him are very heartwarming and that words are not enough to show his gratitude. He spiced the evening with a rare sing and dance performance which he jestingly said he practiced for 7 days and 7 nights.

To Lobregat he said: “words alone cannot fully express my joy and appreciation but if I may borrow the words of Clint Eastwood, Dirty Harry, ‘sir, go ahead, make my day.”

The special evening was interspersed with renditions by the Cantamos Chorale which belted out mostly Orendain’s favorite songs. The event capped with a toast offered by Lobregat for Orendain’s continuous success and continuous service to the people of Zamboanga. — Jubels Santos