TIME was when I would be asked by my fellow mayors, who were so jealous as to how I would always find myself to be always in the national news. Either it was on television or radio but mainly in the national dailies. If it wasn’t the Daily Inquirer, it was PhilStar or the Bulletin.
I always made the news for many reasons, the bad and the good. I guess it was more about Baguio and I just happen to be the mayor. Most if not every Juan was interested about Baguio. The President at that time was always in Baguio. She just loved it here. I could guess she was partly to blame too.
The Summer Sessions for the Supreme Court made news, the Cabinet Meetings during summer also made news. Christmas and Holy Week would find Baguio in the news. Our cool temperatures makes for news. The Flower Festival always makes the headlines.
In my 12 straight years of serving and winning in four straight elections from councilor to vice mayor and then becoming mayor, most of what made me in the news was my age. As I soon became mayor, most of the news was garbage after that. Literally.
Being the mayor was difficult but we never reneged on any duty. In fact I was so happy to be given a mandate by the people. Work was easy I will tell you, I loved my job. I loved that I take the chance to take care of a city I was born in. And to be the father of it even better. I just loved to be speaking with every Juan. Helping in whatever way, I would.
It was the politics that I cannot swallow. This is one part of my job that I couldn’t understand. When I did well, it wasn’t enough. Went I failed there was no Juan to stand by you. It seems every Juan wants to see me fail. It was always my fault. But I never mind, I just did the best I could.
Today, after so many years and away from it all and as a publisher of a news daily and a banker to being the president of the Jaime V. Ongpin Foundation, I am once more put into the news. For something 20 years ago as councilor and 10 years when I was still the mayor, sad I’m not. Happy, yes.
Suddenly, I am again thrust into a ring I once was a fighter. But who says I’m retired as one. I would take any Juan. I have in many elections. All were champions in this ring where I stepped in. I took the challenge every time. I always knew I had the people of Baguio behind me. Cheering after me, having my back. The incumbents I always went against.
It is news today that I may have made some wrongdoing. First I’m glad that old news still makes for news. Second I am glad that it comes at this time when I thought that no Juan knows me anymore. Third is that it makes for good timing as far as I see it. Fourth I get the chance to be in the news again on rapper.com pa today. All for free.
I have been in media for quite some time now. Every weekend I would write my story. A version of the news or information I will call my own. How I see it and how I would want Juan to read it. So who would you think would be the manipulator?
As I said I was always in the news, I made sure I would be in the news. Any news good or bad is still news. Except I would also choose my battles and not just go gung-ho for anything. Now you know why I ended up in media, because I know news when I see one.
Some Juan will try to make the news, apparently media knows how to smell which makes the news and which news are paid for or PR. And I will never resort for it for anything. In fact my colleagues in the league always wondered how much my budget was for media? For media?
Media has always been my friend and partner. Both giving information for every Juan to know. Nothing to hide or keep away from the public. People always have the right to know. How it is told is another story, a version as I mentioned.
The latest story would involve my decision to give benefits to those working very hard in City Hall. Will it be good for all? Will it benefit all? Simple questions I will always ask from those in the know. Will I make money out of it? Definitely not! So what’s the issue?
Anyway, today these are questions being raised by proper authorities and I will always welcome any, as I have said I have served with utmost dignity to the city that I love. I also have a treasured name that I will protect. Many will counter, rumors will fly, but with regards to corruption in City Hall for my part and person, I honestly will tell every Juan that it is just not me.
All Juan had to do at that time was meet with the city budget officer, the city treasurer, the city auditor and the city legal officer to find out if it was legal or illegal. If it was legal was it to serve its reason? Was there available funds for it? Who will benefit from it? I knew the answers already knowing that all of them are either Lawyers or certified public accountants who have proudly served the city government longer than I have. I am neither any of those. But a thief none are.
Other than a collective decision there is the Employees Union. I did it because I love my City Government family. I was their Dad too. I believed that when you take care of your people, they will take care of you too. So for the past 10 or so years when this first was questioned, I still have the same reasoning. And until that reason is found to be wrong, only then will I stand before those who question a collective judgment and decision, a family decision. I will be faulted for taking care of my government family? I don’t think so.
In the end, it is not the end, I am back and I stand by my position. A decision made after numerous meetings for experts far more than what I was. All I did was sign after and a “thank you” from my government family who I look after for. The idea in media is to share the facts, and straight. That’s just me being in Media.
Wait till you hear my Banker version from it, have you heard of Clearances and Exit Conferences? Do not Me in Media. But as a banker, to be continued... Let us start with income and budget of the city. Let us compare what was then with the different Fathers of the City before me. Let us see who has set the tone for the city.