THE SPEAKER SLIPPED. House Speaker Martin G. Romualdez's tongue slipped when he greeted VIPs in the opening of his speech at the launching of a massive housing project in Cebu City Monday (February 27, 2023).

After calling President Marcos Jr. "our leader, our inspiration, the 'realizer' of the dreams we harbor for this housing project," he turned to "our very, very gracious hosts, Gov. Gwen Garcia... and of course, Mayor Mike Osmeñ! ...Rama."

Romualdez, scrambling to take the foot off his mouth, quickly said he was just answering an earlier joke by Mayor Rama ("bumawi lang ako") and President Marcos Jr. briefly inserted in his own address the unsolicited note that the speaker had earlier prepared for the ribbing ("not a mistake," BBM said). Both Rama and the President were being helpful with their instant spins of the event.

SOUNDED GENUINE ENOUGH. But Romualdez's "aw!" sounded as genuine realization of the error and he promptly rushed from the rostrum to the mayor's side to show he was sorry.

Mayor Mike picked up Romualdez's joke-for-a-joke line and both raised the matter of "unity" between the two politically-warring Osmeña and Rama camps.

SPECULATION. A simple mistake, a serious but forgivable gaffe, or deliberate joke -- whatever it actually was -- that elevated on a "very, very" public stage the speculation that Mayor Rama has been trying to make peace with former mayor Tomas Osmeña, the leader of Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan, with which Rama's group Barug has been battling since the 2013 elections.

(Mike beat Tomas in 2013, Tomas beat Mike in 2016, Labella-Mike beat Tomas-de los Santos in 2019, and again Mike and Barug beat Tomas and BOPK in 2022.)

City Hall watchers may have noted that since September 2022 -- about the same time he began earnestly pushing his "Singapore-like Cebu City" mission -- Mayor Rama has been intermittently crediting Tomas in public forums for his contributions to the progress of the City.

INVITATION TO TOMAS. The feelers, if they were, were highlighted during the recently concluded City Charter Week when more than once he said he was inviting Osmeña to the launching of the BRT project Monday, February 27. He explained that Tomas deserves a place of honor at the ceremony for his share of the work on the preparations for the project.

It wasn't known whether the invitation was actually sent out and received. The mayor obviously was serious, given the number of times he reached out through his public statements, including remarks during a Monday flag ceremony at City Hall.

"HAPIT NA!" In the good-natured exchange between Romualdez and Rama ---when the speaker left the rostrum to "placate" the mayor, then returned to resume his speech -- the words "unity" and "Hapit na!" rang out.

Which both apparently were using to recover from the slip of speech. "Mike Osmeña" indicates a fusion. "Almost there or almost done" was the "Hapit na!" from Rama. Romualdez said, "Unity... only in Cebu," then grabbing the theme to remind the audience that the Marcoses in the north and the Dutertes in the south forged their unity in Cebu, the central part of the country, leading to the collaboration that won them the government in the 2022 elections.