Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Nalzaro: Honoring Congressman del Mar


GREEK philosopher Aristotle figured there were three kinds of friendships: 1) friendships of utility, exist between you and someone who is useful to you in some way; 2) friendships of pleasure, exist between you and those whose company you enjoy and; 3) friendships of the good, are based on mutual respect and admiration.

Good friends are loyal and accept you for who you are during the good and bad times. Good friends are also honest — honest enough to tell you when you’re not being a good friend yourself. This is how I described my friendship with the late Cebu City North District Rep. Raul del Mar. And that friendship lasted for more than three decades.

I first met Raul when he was introduced to me by my former dyMF Bombo Radyo Cebu boss, veteran broadcaster Manny delos Santos Rabacal, in one of Raul’s live guesting on Manny’s radio program. Raul was a newly elected congressman then.

I described Raul as an ideal politician, not the typical and traditional politician. His brand of politics was different from others and something unique. He wanted to make friends with everybody even with his political foes. During elections, you never heard del Mar attack his political opponents. He was so nice and kind that he didn’t want controversies, like personally attacking his opponents. During the campaign, he would just present his plans and programs and never said bad words against his opponents. After elections, he would reach out to his opponents and make friends with them. He was humble and down to earth. You can ask his political allies and likewise his opponents, I am sure they would agree to what I say about Raul.

Despite of our friendship, I never asked personal favors from him. He did not also ask favors or conditions from me. Our friendship was based on mutual respect with our respective careers. He was a politician and I am a mediaman, even though most politicians are the usual subjects of media commentaries. I was one of those who questioned when he built his first flyover along Archbishop Reyes Ave. Was it necessary when there were so many pressing concerns at that time? During my interview, Raul just explained his intention that flyovers will somehow help ease traffic congestion in the intersections. And he was proven right.

As far as I can remember, there were only two occasions that I approached for Raul’s help, but not for my personal gain. First, when we concenptualized with former SunStar editor-in-chief Pachico “Cheking” Seares the Cebu Media Medical Aid Fund (CCMAF) to help mediamen who get hospitalized. With the clearance and go signal of Cheking, I approached del Mar and the late South District Rep. Tony Cuenco for funding of the program. They both agreed and supported our proposal. I am not grabbing credit. They appropriated part of their pork barrel funds to that noble project through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) 7. The agreement was that if a legitimate mediaman got hospitalized, he or she could avail himself or herself of a P25,000 financial assistance directly paid to the hospital through DSWD 7. In fact, it was extended later to the immediate family of media members. There were so many Cebu media members who benefitted from the program. I was not able to avail myself of the program because I was never hospitalized during its implementation.

The second occasion I approached Raul for help was during the improvement of that narrow road from Nivel Hills, Busay highway leading to GMA 7 broadcast complex. When I transferred to GMA 7 way back in the late ‘90s, that road was very rough. In coordination with the City Council, which passed a resolution, I asked Raul to improve the road, considering that it is in his district. And he did. That road improvement not only benefitted us, GMA 7 employees, but also residents nearby.

Del Mar brought in and introduced developments in his district by constructing flyovers, skywalks, school buildings, barangay halls and sports complexes. Almost all of the barangay halls and sports complexes in the north district were funded by del Mar. He poured in part of his resources to the extension of the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center. He authored laws of local and national significance like the creation of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority, the Cebu Port Authority, Magna Carta for Teachers and Students, the No-deposit law for private hospitals and other numerous bills that became laws.

Del Mar, a son of Spanish era-journalist Jose Maria del Mar, and he himself being the former general manager of SunStar Cebu, also showed his concern to the media industry. He helped in the construction of the Marcelo Fernan Press Center, the media library, the Cebu Newspaper Welfare Cooperative and the News Coop. He made amendments and expanded the Sotto law, which protects print journalists from revealing their source, to include broadcast, and sponsored franchise renewals for various local radio stations. He supported and, in fact, delivered a privilege speech for the renewal of the ABS-CBN franchise.

In view of del Mar’s achievements and legacy, may I call on or request these institutions to honor him. What about a sculpture or a human-sized statue for him on the MCIAA and CPA grounds? What about a building inside V. Sotto compound to be named after him? Or an entire school complex to be named after him?

Also, what about a city or national street in the north district to be named after him? There are so many roads at the North Reclamation Area and at Ayala Business Park that have generic names like Leyte and Samar Drive. Can the city request the Ayala company on this? There is a five-year requirement for a dead person to be honored by a street name. Can the City Historical Affairs Commission and the City Council waive the rule. Just floating this idea.


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