How an ‘artista lang’ is leading Ormoc’s renaissance

The Philippine Star
How an �artista lang� is leading Ormoc�s renaissance
Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez receives his doctorate of philosophy in public administration from Cebu Technological University president Rosein Ancheta during the university’s 105th commencement day. Joining the mayor is Leyte Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez.

MANILA, Philippines — While celebrity-mayors Isko Moreno of Manila and Vico Sotto of Pasig have been hugging the headlines of late, celebrity-mayor Richard Gomez has been silently doing his work in Ormoc City since 2016, turning the once crime-ridden and “drug capital” of Eastern Visayas into the first city to be drug-cleared in the region in 2016 and the safest city in the country in 2017 and 2018.

A long list of accomplishments the city mayor has achieved for Ormoc highlights his political will and his concern for his constituents – the latest of which is developing world class athletes who grabbed two golds and a bronze medal in modern pentathlon during the recent SEA Games 2019.

Gomez, who is also the president of the Philippine Fencing Association and the Modern Pentathlon Association of the Philippines, was with SEA Games gold medalists Michael Comaling, Princess Honey Arbilon and Samuel German, all from Ormoc City, who received the Order of Lapu-lapu in Malacañang just this week.

Ormoc, known as the “City of Beautiful People,” is also fondly called by proud residents as the “City of Beautiful Champions” after it became champion in the Eastern Visayas Regional Athletic Association games in 2017 and 2018, under Gomez’s administration.

The city catapulted to the top with the mayor’s sports program and from the local stage, Ormoc’s athletes have joined the national and even international arenas, as Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez, the mayor’s wife, introduced dancesport to Ormocanon youth. Now, they are reaping medals from international competitions. Ormoc has also hosted at least twice the national dancesport competitions.

Gomez said he dreams of developing Olympic-caliber athletes for Ormoc and believes the modern pentathlon is a sport where Filipinos can excel. He  has also ordered the institutionalization of a full scholarship program.

Ormoc has also many monikers due to the awards it has gained in recent years under Gomez. It is a two-year Red Orchid awardee for being a “No Smoking City.”

Gomez said that the public health cost of smoking is so high that it offsets any revenues gained by the government from the tobacco industry. The Sangguniang Panlungsod is also amending the existing anti-smoking ordinance to increase the fines from P500 to P1,000 for the first offense. On his first day of office, Gomez had his office stripped of the carpets and had it fumigated because it reeked of cigarette smoke. He also found hundreds of cigarette butts thrown carelessly around the patio.

Ormoc City has also been adjudged a finalist in the prestigious Presidential Award for Child-Friendly Municipalities and Cities. While the top plum has remained elusive for Ormoc, Gomez said what is important is that Ormoc’s child-friendliness is gaining recognition.

Gomez is happy that Ormoc received a 94 percent score in the DILG’s road-clearing program, the highest in the region. The cleared roads have since been turned over to the barangays in a simple ceremony led by Department of the Interior and Local Government officials. Gomez also reconfigured “islands” in major junctions into rotundas. The simple reconfiguration solved years of problematic traffic during rush hours.

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