SAGAY CITY -- The retention of the Negros Island Region (NIR) was among the top birthday wishes of Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr., along with unity and peace for the progress of the province.

Marañon, who celebrated his 81st birthday at Balay Kauswagan in this northern Negros city on Wednesday, urged anew Negrenses to continue praying, especially during this Christmas season, that the newly-created region will not be dissolved.

“Let’s keep praying for the retention of NIR,” the governor said as he cited the huge advantage of having the one-island region.

On May 29, 2015, former president Benigno Aquino III signed the EO creating NIR composed of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental.

A Palace official recently asked Marañon to prepare briefer on the NIR ahead of the Cabinet meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte next month.

Marañon said that in a short time that NIR has existed, the achievements of the 35 regional line agencies were beyond expectation.

“I am hopeful that with NIR’s retention, we will continue to grow and progress. The province then will become better and more commendable,” he added.

Speaking before his family and friends, government officials, Capitol department heads, and Sagaynons, Marañon thanked God “for the gift of life.”

“We have to take care of what God has given us,” the governor said, adding that “what I am now, what I have now, including my 15 grandchildren are from Him.”

He also recalled that when he was younger, he never expected to become a governor.

“My only dream is to sail the seven seas of the world,” Marañon said, noting that “like a broken record, we need to always unite.”

Wishes

Third District Representative Alfredo Benitez, who was among the well-wishers of the governor, said he asked for a longer life for the top provincial official.

“I wish he can reach 180 years,” Benitez said, adding that people who work and contribute to the society should live longer.

Diocese of Bacolod Bishop Patricio Buzon, in a video message, congratulated the governor for dedicating his life in the service of the community.

“I join the whole province in greeting you a very happy birthday and a blessed Christmas,” Buzon said.

Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Jesus Hinlo also extended his greeting to the governor through a video message.