IT WAS a landslide win for the Cris Garbo-Geld Aquino tandem in Mabalacat City, with six council bets besting several of the incumbents allied with the Christian Halili-Boking Morales tandem. Quite interesting win for Garbo and a surprise loss for Morales. My mother always told me to be always looking for what is good in a person. And I found a lot in Garbo when we had coffee at our favorite watering hole in Clark Freeport, Cafe Mesa, home of the long leggeds. (Is there such a word?). He told me stories not quite known to many people.
Garbo is a very interesting person. 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. And for Pareng Boking, he can be credited for achieving cityhood for Mabalacat. He can’t be defined by his few failures. He is successful in more ways than one. And I am sure there’s life after politics for him.
I met Mayor Cris, few weeks before the elections. He was alone, no bodyguards. I spent more than an hour with him on the Cafe Mesa’s terrazza. Inevitably the discussion was about politics but somehow it parlayed to religion. I was impressed by his deep knowledge of the Bible. He told me he became a ‘born again’ Christian and spends long hours now at CEMI prayer hall in Barangay Sto. Domingo in Angeles City for prayers and meditation. As he was explaining, I looked directly at his eyes. I was fully convinced that the man was indeed a changed person. From the rolly polly type guy to a religious and spiritual person. Wow. Unbelievable. To tell you the truth, I am one person who can’t be easily impressed. This time, however I erased all my doubts.
Fast forward: Who could imagine therefore that Garbo, placing a far second to Morales in a mayoral contest in 2016, now recorded a landslide victory in the recently held one? But it happened. And Morales playing second fiddle to Halili even defeated by his nephew, a political neophyte. And many of his council bets dislodged the incumbents identified for many years with Morales. It must be the notion of most voters to give the Garbo administration more leeway in the next three years to carry out his programs. And I can predict that if he succeeds in the next three years, he will be the political leader for the years to come.
Mabalacat gets a big slice of the 5% GIE (gross income earned) from Clark Freeport locators. If those money are well spent, according to Garbo, more benefits will be enjoyed by the constituency, I remember him saying that over coffee. 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 now that he was blessed and given a fresh mandate.
TIDBITS: Successful comebacks to their town halls. Romy Pecson in Magalang, Rene Maglanque in Candaba, Jun Tetangco in Apalit and Jay Sagum in San Luis. Surprise defeats. Digos Canlas in San Simon and Mark Lapid in Porac. The newly minted. Diman Datu in Bacolor, Esmie Pineda in Lubao and Jing Capil in Porac.