CEBU City Hall, particularly the eighth floor of the executive building where the office of the mayor is located, was bursting with people when I went there the other day. I didn’t know they were mostly job applicants until City Administrator Floro Casas Jr. addressed the crowd to put system into what initially looked like a chaotic setup. But there were also people in the mix who had other errands, like some barangay officials, one of whom was a comrade in the old days in one mountain barangay in the city. We talked, but that should be a topic for another column.
The scene brought back memories of the first and only time I “competed” with other job applicants for a job opening in a private firm. I was still under “rehabilitation” then and living in a military camp. I eventually got bored doing odd jobs like cleaning the rooms, sweeping the yard and buying cigarettes for some military people and asked an officer to allow me to apply for a job outside. He told me about the job opening in the Cebu branch of a giant telecommunications firm.
Armed with the needed documents and told of the name of a possible “backer,” I went to the firm’s main office along Jones Ave. (now Osmeña Blvd.) and was shocked to see hundreds of job applicants already there. No way I could even get inside the office of the backer, I thought. I promptly backed off (no pun intended).
But back to City Hall. This used to be my turf when I was a reporter for dyLA and Tomas Osmeña was a young mayor. There was no eight-story building then; only the old structure fronted by Plaza Sugbo stood there. That’s how different the area looks now. The mayor’s office was on the first floor, near where the public information office used to set up fort.
We reporters usually used the side entrance where a man called, if I remember correctly, Jerry Ilagan, loitered. He would welcome us every time we went to the office, talking about how Cebu City had become “second to none” under Osmeña. Tomas is old and most probably has already been involuntarily retired from politics with his loss in the recent mayoral polls. That’s how much time has passed.
I ended up checking the offices of the city councilors, especially Joel Garganera’s famed “Panday Cafe” only to be told by the councilor through a cell phone message that his office is temporarily being occupied by Councilor Phillip Zafra because he still has to take his oath following the disqualification of Sisinio Andales. So Garganera is currently vacationing, I would like to think.
By the way, I saw in the mayor’s office an older Farlash Segovia, who back in the day was with the public information office that became the City Hall beat reporters’ unofficial headquarters. Farlash and another Public Information Office staff member Julie, were still single then and they knew more than anybody else in City Hall many things about the beat reporters at that time, including the love story of a radio reporter and an intern who got closer while frequenting the PIO turf.
Perhaps I need to visit City Hall more to be able to recall scenes from the good old days when everything seemed fresh and innocent.