AS Cebu City marks its 80th Charter Anniversary on Friday, it is worth noting the role of a lesser-known person in the transition to cityhood.
Vicente “Inting” Rama, then 3rd district representative in the National Assembly, became the “father of the Cebu City Charter” for pushing the piece of legislation in Congress. Before that, there was Gervasio L. Lavilles, who carried the idea from the start for it to bear fruit later.
Lavilles was councilor of the then Cebu municipality. He started the process of cityhood in 1931 by authoring Resolution No. 185 that called on the Senate and the House of Representatives to draft and pass a Charter converting the municipal capital into a city. It was on Feb. 24, 1937, when the City of Cebu was born by Commonwealth Act No.58. The then Municipality of Cebu that was under the Cebu Provincial Government became an independent Chartered City known as “Cebu City,” the City Hall information office said.
A street has been named in Barangay Tinago in Lavilles’s honor not for his role in the making of the city because Rama is largely and rightly credited for it, but for his resolutions that were beneficial to residents. These were the “Blue Sunday” ordinance that made Sunday a rest day, the expansion of roads in Talamban, Guba, Pit-os and Busay, and many more. Lavilles’s credit lies in starting the process.
Lavilles was from Lambunao, Iloilo. He moved to Cebu at the age of 14, studied here, and became a three-term councilor from 1924 to 1935. He was a journalist, and he published a book titled “Cebu: History of Its Four Cities and Forty-Nine Municipalities.” As reporter, he wrote about the crash of the presidential plane “Pinatubo” that carried President Ramon Magsaysay and 17 others at the slopes of Mt. Manunggal, Balamban, Cebu. He wrote for an international wire agency and local newspapers. Photos of the crash site can be found on his Facebook page. (FB: “Gervasio Lira Lavilles”)
He has four children. His two surviving daughters, Evangeline Lavilles-de Paula and Marietta Lavilles-de Egurrola, are active in their advocacies, including the protection of the rights of retired persons and senior citizens.
I admit I was among those who not just opposed but scoffed at the designation of Gina Lopez as Environment secretary. She was an advocate but it didn’t mean she had the qualifications for the department’s top post.
But when she went after big mining contracts and, by showing political will, made controversial decisions, I had to rethink my way of seeing her. No other Environment official, not even Dr. Angel Alcala who has a following, has taken such drastic measures to save the earth and seek an equitable enjoyment of natural resources.
Lopez cannot be assured of the Commission on Appointment’s nod because lobby groups are out there to fulfill the mining companies’ wish that she not be confirmed. But she has the support of those who applaud her commitment and decisiveness.