TWO nights ago, I was invited to the birthday celebration of former city councilor Candy Darimbang at a restaurant in Limketkai Center. I don’t usually attend social parties with politicians but this one was an exception because Candy’s daughter is a close friend and a former student.
Anyway, I was ushered to a table where I sat with Rhona Canoy, the daughter of former city mayor Reuben Canoy, and Manny Darimbang, the former director of LTFRB-Northern Mindanao, both vying for city council seat. We shared the table with other political candidates of Partido Federal but the two I mentioned were the ones who really got my attention that night.
Except for the celebrant, it was my first time to meet everyone in that gathering. So my information with them and their party was very much limited to what transpired in our conversations at the table and the well wishes they gave to Candy and her guests.
That night, Rhona shared to the group how she ended up running under Partido Federal. She said she already had her dose of politics when she ran as an independent candidate three years ago but did not make it. She was all decided to put an end to politics after knowing just how much energy was needed in running a campaign, besides she has been helping out build communities and support the education of the marginalized in the hinterlands without the fanfare that politics brings.
However, it was her daughter and her father who made her reconsider running again. She recalled her father telling her that if she ever runs, she should run because of a cause.
“Makasulod man gani ko’s konseho, either ang konseho ma buang tungod nako, or ako mabuang tungod nila,” Rona said hinting she is all resolved to make things happen if given the chance.
What I was most impressed with her direction was that while others were talking about roads, gymnasiums, and other infrastructures, she shared how difficult it is for kids in the hinterland barangays to be in school who need to walk some two-hour distance and end up not having food at lunch that they eventually quit in the middle of the year because they cannot sustain themselves in such set up. Those are the people that need a voice in the city council, she said. Clearly, Rhona’s heart is in the right place. No wonder why she was officially endorsed by no less than President Rodrigo Duterte himself.
In response to Rhona’s message, Manny Darimbang was all fired up as well in sharing his sense of cause why he decided to join politics after retirement. He said this time he could really just enjoy his retirement as his kids are all grown up and are doing well. But he said he has served Cagayan de Oro for almost 30 years as regional director of LTFRB, and the City has been very good to him. Now that he has retired, it is the perfect time for him to give back to the city.
He fondly recalled when he started in the city years ago, there were only minicabs serving as public utility vehicles, quite depressing to see poor transport services dominating the city roads. But with his efforts, transportation has gone far since.
To the envy of other big cities, Cagayan de Oro provides the newest transport services around and outside the city. This is something he would like to bring in to the council. His expertise in transportation, he said, would come in handy in solving the city’s traffic woes.
Another cause which he is greatly passionate about is to put an end to the stereotypes and discrimination between Christians and Muslims. The city is very culturally diverse, and the presence of Muslims have greatly contributed to the local economy as well as most of them even from neighboring towns spend their earnings here.
Being a Muslim, Manny said his voice in the legislation would surely build stronger relationships between Christians and Muslims and make each culture understand and appreciate diversity. He even hopes that his entry to local politics would bring a clear message to the world that co-existence is very much possible and is actually at hand.
Partido Federal is an underdog party, they do not have a complete slate and they do not have the political machinery that the two other giant parties have, them being the newest in the field. But if there is one thing they clearly have, it would be their strong sense of purpose.