Friday, January 01, 2010

Local Politics: Cagayan de Oro Style

The tropical New Year not only turned on the heat of the local weather, it also ushered in the building cauldron generated by local political stirrings.

2010, in May specifically and a mere five months away, brings on elections in the Philippines – from the national down to the local elective offices.

Today, I got re-introduced to one of the unlikely candidates vying for City Mayor. His name is Berchmans D. Abejuela. A true Atenean and maybe the only blue-blooded Atenean in the fulsome line-up of seven for the same position.



Knew Berchmans from childhood and was almost a neighbor in the small tight neighborhood our family grew up in. He lived in old Dolores St. while we lived along Del Mar St., the latter intersecting with the former two blocks away to the south.

I should have you know that given his very uncommon and unique first name, he most probably was named after a Jesuit missionary and now a saint of the Church, John Berchmans. So he is more like an Atenean since birth!

We both not only graduated from Ateneo de Cagayan (now Xavier University) for our studies, but also both taught high school in the same place at the time when Fr. James O’Donnell was principal.

He went on to take up law and again like a true Atenean, dedicated to be a man for others, entered into politics at a young age fired with the youthful idealism borne from years spent in a Jesuit institution. He won a seat in the local council.

We lost touch since I left the country. Many decades later and we reconnect. In true fashion, Berchmans likes another stab at local politics, no doubt greatly frustrated with how local politics have devolved into, and still fired up with red-hot enthusiasm to try to personally do some things about the dire conditions not only in local government, but most especially in the rueful neglect of the general citizenry brought about by a pernicious kind of identity and patronage politics spawned during the many years of my absence.

Berchmans is teaming up with the polls-surging group of NoyNoy Aquino and Mar Roxas under the banner of the Liberal Party. From all indications, this national tandem appears headed for victory and Berchmans made the right decision to share platforms and ideals with them.

Needless to state, I personally find Berchmans a good match for the position.