BY PET MELLIZA/ THE BEEKEEPER
Any Juan, Pedro and Maria know that the people own them; everybody knows that except one Jed Patrick Mabilog.
Mabilog, mayor of Iloilo City, stakes like the conquistador the two public places as his own to the exclusion of two local dailies run by the publisher who Mabilog hates.
The two dailies, one in English the other in Hiligaynon, hound Mabilog on corruption issues. The two papers are not allowed inside the City Hall. At the inauguration of the Esplanade August 18, Mabilog showed himself the big boss anew by ordering his security men to kick out the newsboys distributing complementary copies of the English daily which bannered the event led by Sen. Franklin Drilon and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao.
Mayor Mabilog is not an urchin in a fit of tantrum against the publisher of the two dailies. He merely acts the role of an adult beating his chest proclaiming his boss-ship that gorillas are won’t to in Tarzan movies.
He didn’t welcome his pet peeves but did the exact opposite to other members of the media who he perceived won’t take potshots of him.
Incidentally, we were on the other side of the Iloilo River bank observing the multitude at the Esplanade. The dragonboat race and speeding motorized bancas, among the features of the event, were quite conspicuous from our end. We were taping our live show Kape kag Isyu at Hotel Del Rio with former justice secretary Raul Gonzalez, Sr. as our resource person.
Gonzalez, as expected, uttered unflattering commentaries on the Mabilog administration. He won’t be running in 2013 but confirmed stories from the grapevine that his son Raul Jr. would collide with Mabilog’s ally Rep. Jerry Trenas while businessman Rommel Ynion would run for the mayoralty.
In between the questions, yours truly would leave the panel to take pictures of the talk show and the environs to be posted in the world wide web (WWW) media.
I take shots at random, after all, it costs almost nothing; the digital cam no longer needs film but just rechargeable battery and a memory card that can be reformatted for re-use once it’s full.
Two of my shots had flotsams, trash of plastic and styro in full view of the crowd in attendance. I posted them in FaceBook and titled it “My River May Pride Kunu”.
I never realized that one city hall official felt slighted by that. According to him, I should have brought up the problem with the city government before posting them in the web. The city government is doing a fine job of promoting the Iloilo River so tourists will come and business will boom and jobs will be generated, according to my friend. And why do I have to paint a negative picture that will only undermine our pride as Ilonggos.
What? As a media person, I merely report and interpret events for the people to know. I don’t get paid for collecting data only to submit them to the Honorable Jed Patrick Mabilog prior to publication.
Pictures of flotsams on the river is not an affront but a message that Mabilog is only paying lip service to public hygiene for harboring litterbugs, actually, owners of establishments who strew their trash and toxic effluents directly into the river.
Not the messenger but the persons, particularly, business establishments polluting the river are the ones deserving to be crucified.
Iloilo River is a story in itself. It used to be the hub that gave life to the city. In yonder years when Iloilo was the Queen City of the South, the river was home to at least two ship building plants, numerous dry dock facilities, two canneries, a car assembly plant, a tire factory, ice plants, an ice cream factory, and rows of bodegas.
Today, it is a ghost town. Its bustling shipping port is gone. The last fleet of steel-hulled fishing boats migrated to Roxas City last year, and an ice plant shut down as result, after somebody conceived of the Iloilo-River -for-tourists-only phantasia.
The bodegas, too, closed down. The only business that thrives there now is prostitution and its twin, drugs.
Rommel Ynion should work beyond the tourism ek-ek but revive the river as an industrial hub, if given the chance to serve as mayor come 2013.