MAYOR Cris Garbo of Mabalacat City is a very interesting person. He is that macho type look alike of Derek Ramsay, according to his golfing friends at Mimosa and those long legged young waitresses at Cafe Mesa in Clark Freeport seemingly are in accord. Personally, I like Cris in the same way I am fond of his mayoralty rival Christian Halili who’s indeed a very nice kid. A chip of his old man, the late Mayor Fred Halili, my long time friend. There are a lot of interesting guys in Mabalacat, the likes of Boking Morales, John Santos, Emil Pineda and Deng Pangilinan among others. These are nice people whose lives somehow intertwined due to their varying interests.
Recently I met Mayor Cris, as usual in our favorite coffee shop in the Freeport, Cafe Mesa. Normally we only exchange banters for a short while but in that last meeting I spent more than an hour with him on the Cafe Mesa’s terrazza and I was impressed of his deep knowledge of the Bible. He told me he became a born again Christian in 2015 and spend long hours now at CEMI prayer hall, a building which is only a walking distance from my residence. From his dissertation, I was fully convinced that the man is indeed a changed person. From the rolly polly type guy to a religious and spiritual person. To tell you the truth, I am one person who because of being a media person for several decades, I already developed like Bong Lacson, Dick Pascual and many other practitioners being discerning and cynical at the same time. And I don’t want to be viewed by journalists like Bobi Tiglao and Rico Hizon that I am naive to believe that Cris Cunanan Garbo is indeed a changed man. So up to you who know, if you believe it or not.
As they commonly say, reaching your dreams is not that easy. Of course it will have its twists and turns. There are challenges every step of the gauntlet. Who could imagine therefore that Garbo placing a far second to Morales in a mayoral contest will assume the mayorship? But it happened. Garbo told me it was his strong prayers which did it.
Meanwhile, Mabalacat City is on its way to becoming one of the more prosperous communities north of Metro Manila. No wonder, a big dream of local officials to make it the Makati of the north was conceived. Credit that to former Mayor Marino “Boking” Morales. He laid the groundwork. In his many years as the chief executive of Mabalacat he contributed to its growth. I remember he was telling me that the open spaces of Mabalacat will rise a skyline of hundreds of tall buildings like those in Ayala, Salcedo and Legaspi Villages of Makati. Well everything starts with a dream. And leaders of Mabalacat never dreamt small, they always dream beyond their imaginations.
Since 1993, when Republic Act 7227 the law that created all base lands formerly occupied by the Americans was passed, the former Clark Air Force Base morphed into a vibrant Aerotropolis led economic zone. That particular law mandates henceforth all investors are exempt from paying any taxes except 5% remittances of their Gross Income Earned (GIE)to be distributed to the five off-zone communities. And Mabalacat, like Porac, Angeles, Bamban and Capas are the happy recipients.
Mabalacat gets a big slice of the 5% GIE. if those money were well spent, according to Garbo, more benefits should have been enjoyed by the constituency. He said under his watch, the resources of the city which budget is projected to reach P2 billion will be carefully spent. He had lined up several projects hopefully he could continue if given a fresh mandate. As it is, the surveys indicate he will make it.
TIDBITS: The takeover of the Villar owned PrimeWater Inc. of the Mabalacat City Water District is being objected by Mayor Garbo and Francis Maliwat, the manager. With good reason. All water systems being sold to PrimeWater are meeting problems. The consumer groups can always go to court to seek an injunction.