Mercado: Letter to his honor

WE VOTED for you Monday as the “lesser evil.” Thus, congratulations still stick in our craw. Sorry. One hosanna less shouldn’t matter when cheers hem you in.

“Victory has a thousand fathers,” John Kennedy noted after the Bay of Pigs fiasco. “But defeat is an orphan.” Rep. Tomas Osmeña reels from the trouncing you gave. He never lost an election since 1988. Now, he’s discovering that the sun rises without fail, even if he is not mayor.

Election posters are now fading. That includes your posters, smeared at the campaign’s tailend by Osmeña backers, with the snappy text:

“Goodbye.” That boomeranged. Voters rewrote that to, “It’s nice to have you back again” cribbed from the 1964 Broadway play “Hello Dolly.”

Rep. Eduardo Gullas gracefully conceded defeat within 24 hours. Osmeña still needles you when not posing as gallant loser. “Give all discarded lovers a second chance,” actress Mae West said. “But with someone else.”

Defeat triggers defections. This year is no exception. Osmeña backers scrammed in droves. “Why not?” they argue. BOPK meant Tomas.

No more, no less. Now, that’s gone. “Things fall apart/ the center cannot hold,” William Butler Yeats wrote.

Many turncoats wiggled into your cheering brigades. Some badger you to settle scores, like the publication of a psychiatrist’s report to the family court on your troubled marriage.

Ignore them. Heed Robert Kennedy’s counsel for a start. “Forgive your enemies. But remember their names.” Then, play by the rules that a President Sergio Osmeña set, whether in spurning corruption or dealing fairly with opponents.

Tomas Osmeña ignored the example his grandfather set. Many do. That reinforces the need to rediscover these ideals. No one begrudges your karaoke warbling. But demonstrate what Don Vicente Rama lived by.

Life rarely deals a second chance. Cebuanos handed you Monday a chance to make up for a lackluster first term. They opened a window denied to many before you: To set standards future Cebuanos can work by.

In August 2010, you presented a “100 Days Program at Aboitiz Development Studies Center. “Cebu is more than just South Road Properties,” you said. See beyond a treeless, flood-prone city where salt wreck aquifers irreversibly.

Maternal and infant death rates then were higher than Thailand’s. They still are. A quarter of the city budget is sapped by Osmeña’s yen loans.

They still do. We’re wedged between Africa’s Gabon and the Palestine Territories in human development. And La Union life expectancy (74.6 years) outstrips Cebu (72.6 years).

Sure, a mutinous city council, egged on by Osmeña, obstructed your plans. But must this city always be “a drifting boat with a slow leakage” as T.S. Eliot asked? We won’t “be forever bailing” in an “unpayable trip that will not bear examination.”

Population growth and economic change shoved borders of Cebu’s 291.2 square kilometer urban sliver to Carcar in the south and Danao in the north. You must help us see the new realities and think different.

Instead of being primary service provider, City Hall should be enabler and increasingly tap the private sector. “This has been the quiet revolution,” World Bank says. Look at Singapore. Or Porto Alegre.

Our grandchildren’s future will be shaped by your next term. There are no guarantees you'll have another chance. In the play “Julius Ceasar” Brutus warns: “There is a tide in the affairs of men which/ when taken at the flood, leads on to fortune./ Omitted all the voyages of their life are bound in shallows and in miseries.”
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