This one’s for Celso; Tomorrow’s for Beng Print
Tuesday, 05 September 2017 14:13



A Filipino writer once said that “a man of destiny is a man without a party.” Seeking refuge with a party that drove him to power, though out-moneyed by a gifted economist born with a silver spoon, El Presidente rose to become an autocratic president at a time of grave crises. There is little doubt, too, that this man from Southern Mindanao can move a dispassionate people to believing that he, a man of pictured courage and bravery, can change the character of a nation that for decades has been gleaned as the “sick man of Asia” because of debauchery and immorality, not to mention official corruption in high places.

It was, as the world knows, former president Fidel V. Ramos who egged El Presidente to seek the presidency when the designs of the Aquino oligarchy became intolerable. The superior demands of the times and the unbearable political circumstances enjoined the rise of a “barrio boy”. General Ramos recognized his destiny among elder statesmen looking for enterprising but gutsy leaders to succeed them. Not even the Master of Written Cadence Teodoro Benigno would have valued his leadership and mark him as a presidential prospect.

El Presidente’s amazing victory over a strong person that possessed the almanac of a great family of politicians was, to say the least, stunning. It showed that 16 million Filipinos were fed up with the yellow and blue oligarchy. And, so, we watch for another five years and think of what might happen to a country whose people are left to the radically-minded eager to make a pivotal change in our system of government and alter, as promised, the fortunes of over 100 million Filipinos.

As was Zamboanga, we needed a new leadership, new directions for an already great and remarkable society of mixed religions and cultures. But that reality was short-lived as Cesar C. Climaco was cut down by an assassin’s bullet and with his death our dreams of a progressive city perished.

After the demise of The Patriarch, Mrs. Maria Clara L. Lobregat, her beloved son, Celso, took her place and imposed his vision on a city struggling from law and order. The hero and the heroine dead, we shouted, “long live the hero!”

The saying – the plea – that Zamboanga needed a man or a woman to redirect its course, a leader, molded in Manila and educated by the Jesuits, rose from obscurity. He was described as a “nonentity”. His name, status and educational qualification mattered little. What was important was his mission: to retool Zamboanga and remold the forces that crushed our social and economic advances.

This is Celso’s destiny. (By the way, I bumped into him at the Lobby Bar of the Garden Orchid Hotel. He was wearing a pair of Nikes.) The consensus was a for a young, ambitious leader to direct the course of Zamboanga to marvelous heights, to remove the stigma of the old ravaging order: an order responsible for poverty and slow-productive local government that needed transvaluation – that political transformation necessary in remodeling a city that was falling behind in all aspects of development.

Celso is a centralist. As everything starts from him, he has earned the trust of the voters because they see him as the only force that can unite the people for a worthy cause. They see him as the only force that can provide “fire and fury” so necessary in the coming months as Congress debates on Federalism and the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

The next local election, unless abolished by a new federal constitution, will witness the comeback of Celso as mayor. From accomplishments, I see little reason why he cannot win against a formidable opponent who possesses a streak of overwhelming victories. In all his years as a congressman and mayor, Celso has remolded and redirected the thinking and emotions of the electorate. They need him.