NOT A NEWS FIGURE. The public knows little of Terence Calatrava, newly appointed presidential assistant to the Visayas. The news stories that spread the news Tuesday, December 6, 2022, disclosed only these:

SunStar reported that Calatrava is a former businessman, “hails from Cebu” and is “no stranger to public service as he had served the Tingog party-list as its regional director.” Manila Standard had no additional data, describing his public service in the same words that SunStar used.

He’s an ex-businessman, the news reports say, but it’s not said what his business was and where. Available news archives didn’t yield anything about Calatrava before his appointment. Obviously his name didn’t ever come up in a news story or feature before. The contrast is stark, compared with Calatrava’s predecessor Michael Dino, who was widely known, having been involved in controversies, even before he was named Opav chief by then president Duterte in 2016.

WIFE IS SISTER OF SPEAKER’S WIFE. It turned out Terence Calatrava was a private contractor handling mostly government projects in Leyte.

He’s the party-list Tingog’s regional chairman, the news reports said. But he had not been elected or appointed to any government office before the Opav appointment and he wasn’t involved in an NGO (non-governmental organization) helping promote public welfare.

Calatrava’s wife, a source said, is a sister of Representative Yedda Marie Romualdez, the wife of House Speaker Martin Romualdez. Cong Yedda was Tingog’s sole representative during the 2019-2022 term, the first time the party-list group gained access to Congress. For the 2022-2025 term, Mrs. Romualdez keeps her seat with another Tingog nominee occupying its second seat.

That’s as close as one could get to the Opav appointing power.

Terence Calatrava took his oath twice, separately, before Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin in Malacañang and, yes, before Speaker Romualdez at the House of Representatives.

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NOT THE SAME, SAYS THE MAYOR. Last November 23, Elias Baquero said in his program “Yagyagan” on DYRC radio that Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama called him up to “clarify” that “like Singapore” is not similar to “Singapore-like,” which phrases Baquero apparently had used

interchangeably.

The two phrases mean differently to Mayor Mike. That’s why during the last June 30 inaugural, if you check the video, he stressed he was aspiring to make the city “Singapore-like.”

To the mayor, the difference could be that “like Singapore” is an exact copy of Singapore, which is impossible if not difficult, while “Singapore-like” is imitating just some attributes of Singapore. The second is less tough and ambitious than the first.

The problem though is that most people won’t bother to make the tiny distinction, which apparently has been lost in the discussion over Mayor Mike’s “dream.” To most people, the two Singapore catchphrases mean the same thing – “like Singapore” is also “Singapore-like” – not the kind of difference between, say, “child-like” and “childish,” which each has a different meaning.

WHAT MIKE WANTS. However the mayor phrases it, what does he want? City Hall publicist Cerwin Eviota told me last November 28, “the mayor wants to convey that Cebu City couldn’t be ‘like Singapore,’ at least at this time, but can be inspired and come close to being one, or ‘Singapore-like.’’ A City Hall watcher put it a bit more clearly in Cebuano-Bisaya: “Di man gani mahimong lain nga Singapore, mahimong pupareha sa Singapore.”