WHILST its northern neighbors enjoy relative prosperity, Sto. Tomas town on the southern part of the province of Pampanga may yet improve on its present 4th class status, given the right set of leaders.

Now headed by the energetic Mayor Joselito Naguit, backstopped by a supportive vice mayor and members of the Sangguniang Bayan, this small town, south of the city of San Fernando, is slowly but surely branching out of its main industries of duck eggs raising, pottery and coffin making.

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Generally peaceful, although landlocked by the City of San Fernando on the north, Apalit town on the south, Minalin and Macabebe on the west, Sto. Tomas, with San Matias as its principal barangay hosting the town hall, various municipal and regional government offices and some business establishments, needed a mobile patrol car which, by the way, will be given by the Philippine National Police officials led by Chief Jesus Versoza, through the PNP Regional Office headed by Chief Supt. Arturo Cacdac, in time for the mayor's birthday today.

It is only now that this town has acquired a mobile car and only through the sipag at tiyaga of Mayor Naguit. I hope more equipment will be given this aspiring municipality, along with an influx of investors. After all, its neighbors are enjoying economic growth and its being landlocked not counter productive.

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Check your figures first, Mr. Vice Mayor. I disagree with the claim of Mabalacat Vice Mayor Noelito Castro that the town's employment figures at Clark are second only to Angeles City's. On the contrary, some 33 to 34 percent of the total workforce at the Zone comes from Mabalacat, leading even Angeles City and other areas of Luzon and some from Metro Manila.

In fact, the Peso Mabalacat office is super active in holding jobs fairs and interviews, making referrals and personal follow-ups with relevant employers' offices to ensure placement of applicants not only in the Clark Zone but also outside of it. Peso Mabalacat has records to show figures of Mabalaquenos now working in Clark and those awaiting employers' calls.

It is downright unfair to downplay the role of this office in providing employment opportunities for the town's able-bodied and qualified workers. But wait, even the persons with disabilities or PWDs are being attended to by this office and are in fact considered for employment. So, who fed the good but apprehensive Vice Mayor the misleading data on the town's employables?

Peso Mabalacat, through the steadfast support of Mayor Boking Morales also conducts skills trainings for the unskilled and under employed. All the town's 27 barangays are notified about these trainings, the latest of which was a Hairdressing course, followed by Reflexology done at Villa Teodora, Dau. Forthcoming is the Cosmetology course to be done at Barangay Sto. Rosario.

Vice Mayor Castro quotes some figures based on the number of workers using CDC's Mabalacat gate. Let me inform him that while some may be transients, most of the people passing through daily at this gate are from Mabalacat.

Only last April, some 900 students were employed under the SPES program. Now, who says PESO Mabalacat is sleeping on the job? Unfair to say that it does.

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The choice by President Aquino of retired Lt. General Voltaire Gasmin for the position of Secretary of the Department of National Defense is well taken and accepted by the public due to the good general's high sense of professionalism, competence and discipline. Loyalty to the flag, country and respect for civilian authority are trade marks of Gasmin and he has repeatedly proven these traits in the past.

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I'd like to thank profusely Ms. Laura Mariano, head of the SSS Angeles Branch for her kind attention and accommodation to requests from active and retired members and relatives of deceased members.

Laura is one lady executive who goes out of her way to serve not only the active and retired members but also the general public who call on her (and her staff) to inquire about SSS-related matters. May her kind increase.

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Aide memoire: As written by Philippine Star columnist Ana Marie Pamintuan last Friday, July 2, we may recall and keep in mind what P-Noy vowed in public: no patrons or padrino, thievery, no lamangan or putting one over the other, petty extortion, counter flow and no sirens and wang wang. Well said, but how long could these promises hold? Would this not be another classic case of ningas kugon? Wag naman sana. There are history derelicts and bad lessons which may repeat themselves in the tenure of P-Noy. With the new prexy's moorings, however, these may not resurface.