The mayor’s singing

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Saturday, December 7, 2013

I BROUGHT my kids to Fuente Osmeña last Sunday for the lighting of the giant Christmas tree. I had wanted the boys to see what Fuente is like when it turns festive.

Unfortunately, we arrived that night with the Christmas tree already lighted. But an entertainment show was still on at the plaza’s big stage and the crowd whiling away their time still thick.

Fuente was our favorite park in my younger years. By “our” I mean the youth in our place in nearby Sitio Kawayan in Barangay Sambag 2. We jogged there when we had the time at dawn, then watched old folks doing tai chi or boxers shadow boxing (currently, that function is being taken over by the Cebu City Sports Center).

We strolled there on Sundays and either squatted on the grass or sat in its benches below giant acacia trees while spending time talking and watching the multi-colored neon lights of surrounding establishments. In Fuente the benches were usually occupied
by couples whispering sweet nothings to each other in the barely lit surrounding.

These days, Fuente is still barely lit. I could not even make out fully the faces of the guests of what looked like a party thrown by the city government for itself at the center of the circle where the old fountain is located. With party folks occupying the area, I couldn’t bring the boys closer to the fountain to see what it looked like.

On the stage, local singers valiantly tried to sound like the artists whose faces were shown on a screen mounted at the side. When things began to get interesting, however, the show was interrupted by an announcement that Mayor Michael Rama was about to sing.

I actually first heard the mayor sing when he showed up in a gathering at Jose “Dodong” Gullas’s Halad museum several weeks back. What struck me then was his struggles. He had difficulty bringing out his voice when the notes were very low.

Other than that, he could sing.

Candidates of the Miss Cebu pageant that will be held in time for the Sinulog festivities in January later went up the stage to accompany the mayor while he was singing. It was when he was well into his second song when his problem with his singing voice surfaced again. It was awkward seeing him struggle, but he finished the song nevertheless.

I don’t really know why the mayor insists on singing even when the novelty of the act has long faded. That point came to mind when I read Michelle So’s column about the gathering of heads of business process outsourcing firms that he initiated. He again sang there.

But the mayor also sang, I reckon, a million times during the campaign period for local elections last May when he ran for reelection. Since he won against former mayor Tomas Osmeña, who does not sing and who has long criticized his singing, then either the singing partly contributed to his win or it did not subtract anything from his votes.

I would say, however, that the mayor sings primarily for himself and only secondarily to his audience. With Osmeña and the Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) councilors laying siege on his administration, I think the singing helps in strengthening his resolve. It lightens him up. Had he taken his politics with all seriousness like Osmeña is taking it, he would already have suffered a stroke.

I see Rama singing more as Osmeña and the BOPK tighten up the noose around the neck of his administration in the coming months. The BOPK’s goal is to render his government bankrupt by tinkering with the city’s budget and clamping down on his efforts to generate revenues, the city’s constituents be damned. Thus, the mayor needs to calm his rage.

So he sings, even if his voice cracks.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 07, 2013.


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