Totol, Osmeña and Tabunan-A A +A
Sunday, January 27, 2013
I BUMPED into lawyer Aristotole Batuhan, who is running for the post of congressman in Cebu City’s south district in the May elections, at the wedding of my sister-in-law Amylita Jaca to Ian Lenard Turingan at the Redemptorist Church last Saturday. Batuhan of Team Rama is up against Councilor Rodrigo Abellanosa of the Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK).
“Totol” has filed a complaint against Abellanosa on the issue of conflict of interest for benefiting from the scholarship program of the Cebu City Government. Aside from being city councilor, Abellanosa also owns Asian College of Technology where most of the City’s scholars are enrolled.
I didn’t have time to get details about the case from Batuhan. But I did ask him about the conduct of the campaign and of what he observed about BOPK chief Tomas Osmeña, who is running for mayor against the incumbent, Michael Rama. I shared with him my observation that the south district congressman has visibly slowed down after arriving from the US where he had a medical check-up late last year.
Before that medical leave, rumors were spread that Osmeña, who was treated for cancer and declared cancer-free a few years ago, had a relapse. Totol didn’t provide me with an observation on this regard except to say that having undergone such an illness before, it would be difficult for the former mayor to go through the rigors of the campaign. What we tackled at length instead was Osmeña’s nature.
Or more particularly his weakness as a legislator. Of course, everybody knows that Osmeña is like a square peg in the round hole that is the House of Representatives. He wants to dictate his terms and is not one to work for consensus on matters he wants to tackle.
That nature does not fit Congress where some of the country’s best minds congregate.
You can’t be a dictator in such a body.
Interestingly, Batuhan’s campaign had brought him to the city’s mountain barangays, where he found what I had described before as one of Cebu City’s two worlds. Out there, you are immersed in a very rural setting, which is different from the very urban setup in the city’s growing downtown and uptown areas.
Totol talked about the potentials of one of the barangays he visited, Tabunan. That’s the same place those who join the annual Manunggal trek in March are familiar with. But I shared with him something that I hoped he would give attention to if he gets to Congress. Tabunan is rich in history, too, something that needs to be considered in any development plan for the barangay.
I recalled the time when my research on Cebu’s guerilla movement in World War II led me to Tabunan. It turned out Totol also read Col. Manuel F. Segura’s books, “Tabunan” and the “Koga Papers.” When I followed Segura’s lead, I discovered that Tabunan had sitios with names like Batalyon and Kapenton (I don’t have the correct spelling but it referred to the base of Harry Fenton, one of the two Americans who led the guerilla war against the invading Japanese forces).
An old man brought me to a slope where he said people suspected of spying for the Japanese were brought for execution after trials Fenton conducted. I tested the old man’s claim by asking farmers to dig the slope. We did find human bones there. I had wanted to put a marker on that slope, and even had a lapida maker make a tombstone. For one reason or another, the marker idea was never realized.
Government officials are not known for making history part of their plans for governance. I hope Totol will be different—that is, if he finally makes it to Congress.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 28, 2013.