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>Who robbed Nilo Sazon?


by Peter G. Jimenea, Hole of Justice
Peter G. Jimena
Ilonggos cannot stomach the  grabbing by shameless individuals of the credit due Nilo Sazon, the man known as Capone of his time, who in his remaining years, has vowed to do good for people to remember him.
Sazon has garnered different national awards for what he and his volunteer Coast Guard Auxilliary group did. He has also personally received other awards from Malacañang. A city environmentalist even quipped; “What more a legacy can we ask from this man?”
But if we looked at that gigantic taurpalin erected on the roadside along the abandoned domestic airport at Mandurriao, Iloilo City, one could easily glean the robbing of credit from this man and the  members of the Philippine Coast Guard Auxillary who rightfully deserve the honor.
The billboard at the old airport has the smiling faces of Cong. Jerry Trenas and Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog for their livelihood program including the clean-up of the Iloilo River which earned them an award from an international body (kuno).
It was ten years ago when this writer met Sazon at the “promenade”,  a watering hole on the streetside across Gaisano City. He told me of his plan to do something good for the city and for the Ilonggos as legacy.
Looking at the garbage floating on the river, he smiled and I knew something was in his mind. When told, I acquiesced with his plan to initiate the cleaning of the Iloilo River described by Mr. Pistong, as the biggest septic tank in Asia.
Sazon started his program by building a small bamboo raft for use in gathering floating debris. Months later I saw him with fellow volunteers from the Coast Guard Auxillary, personally cruising the river, collecting garbage like plastics and styrofoam.
They soon built a bigger bamboo raft where the garbage they collected are piled and moored under the bridge approaching Marina Restaurant of Ross Gorriceta, and there wait for the city-hired garbage trucks to pick it up for Calajunan dumpsite.
To be of help, I brought out this work of volunteers over my cable tv program during Saturdays.  Sometimes I invited Sazon and his group as guests to tell the people of the valuable undertaking that badly needed public cooperation.
By keeping the people posted of the ongoing clean up drive by the Coastguard Auxilliary group, we noticed the developing willingness of the people to cooperate in this task initiated by Sazon and company.
Iloilo City Councilor Ely Estante also came to assist. He went to Manila with this writer (thanks to Department of Fisheries Dir. Sonia Seville), to study what help should be done for marginal fishers who would be affected by the cleaning-up of the Iloilo river.
Later, when Kgd. Estante’s resolution was approved by the council for clearing the river of fishpens and other  structures, Sazon bought a motorized rubber boat (courtesy of his daughter abroad) to hasten the efforts of his volunteers in pulling the bamboo raft with piled debris for anchorage at riverbanks.
Today, although not yet totally accomplished, we can see the beauty of the Iloilo River free from floating eyesores. Sad to say, it also invited the opportunists’ desire to share the credit they don’t rightly deserve. Few even plan to erect structures to congratulate themselves as advocates of the successful undertaking.
We cannot blame the people who want to share the credit for this success. But they should have started ten years ago from the basis of their affordability. Perhaps, they just want to enjoy a ride on this success now to make money.
Well, let’s give them the privilege to lie and lie. Anyway lies cost nothing. But we cannot allow them to get closer in legalizing their racket by using the beautiful Iloilo River to put up a foundation or the like without the people getting wind of it.
It may be true that sometimes God is also joking. We ask for a “world class river” to view, He gave us “world class liars” to deal with. Well, that makes our day. But as to identity of these people, your guess is as good as mine!

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