IT WAS far from being an inaugural ball.
The moment the simple white invitation came out, critics quickly labeled Gov. Gwen Garcia’s invite to an “Inauguration Ceremony” on Sunday, June 30 as an “Inaugural Ball,” conjuring images of lavish spending, billowing gowns and kilometric tables laden with sumptuous buffet spreads.
Yes, I did see a number of perfectly roasted lechon lined up for chopping. But, hey, this is Cebu and as the saying goes, “In Cebu, a reception without lechon is not a reception.”
Sa tinuoray lang, it was a simple and touching ceremony that laid out the governor’s plans after a six-year hiatus of what she described as lethargic governance.
I must disagree with her choice of the word “lethargic,” considering how the previous administration kept busy by purchasing heavy equipment at more than 200 times its normal price and plunging the Province from zero to P1.2 billion in debt in the same six-year timeframe. Of course, there is also the matter of bringing the Province down from being the No. 1 Province in the Philippines in terms of assets, income and competitiveness to a distant No. 45. That’s pretty hard to do! It even beats Cebu City’s plunge from No. 1 to No. 15 in IT (information technology) competitiveness.
A number of eyes moistened as the governor recalled the infamous power grab of December 2012, when a now discredited narco-general unleashed his police forces upon the province of Cebu. The consequences of the power grab were disastrous. The change led to much damage--road construction got neglected (so, what was the purchased heavy equipment used for?), provincial hospitals suffered a severe lack of medical professionals and basic medicines, municipalities got affected from the discontinued Suroy-Suroy and Pasigarbo sa Sugbu projects.
Sa tinuoray lang, when the May 2019 elections gave Garcia an overwhelming victory over her opponent, she credited the intelligence of the Cebuano voter for her return to the corridors of public service. Cebuanos clearly wanted change and change their leaders they did.
The governor is cognizant of her mandate to work harder than ever. She herself declared that she needs to go back to undo the damage that has been done and find her way back to lead Cebu again to be No. 1.
Just what exactly does she have in mind? Here are but a few items that I remember: a Level 3 water system for the province; a mass transport system from Carcar to Danao; a waste management system; rehabilitation of roads that have been neglected; boost provincial tourism.
Governor Garcia, indeed, has her work cut out for her. (And if one may add to the mounting list, may I suggest that Cebu must aim to be No. 1 in information and mobile technology accessibility?)
She speaks about being humbled by it all. And it shows in her demeanor. I was expecting to see a fiery, feisty, go-getting Gwen. Instead, I saw a strong, determined, and stately woman leader, one who has withstood numerous tests of fire and survived it all. One Cebuanos can be proud to call their leader.
Sa tinuoray lang, the much-vaunted inaugural ball was no ball at all. More pertinently, it was an “Inaugural Call” and a promise. A promise to do her best to lead Cebu to No. 1 and a call for all Cebuanos to do our part to get there.
Good luck to Gov. Gwen and to all Cebuanos on this chance to start anew!