Gingoog under a new regime

FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star) - July 2, 2019 - 12:00am

Amid the healthy noise of celebrators, the newly elected chief executive of Gingoog City, Erick Cañosa, defined his administration as one of hope, change and rehabilitation. The 37-year-old former vice-mayor  and medical technologist by training had won the May 2019 midterm local elections by a landslide, opening a new era of governance in a city with a 376,271 population. He promised that in the next three years there will be implementation of the new administration’s program called “Gold”. G stands for good and righteous governance, O for opportunities in agriculture, L for livelihood, and D, for delivery of services for health, education and social services.  He called for the cooperation of Gingoognons and the local government units in the creation of “a government not for a few, but for all the people of Gingoog.” 

Mayor Erick drew applause when he acknowledged the benefits of the previous Guingona-de Lara administration who held political power for 15 years, and said there would be “no finger-pointing,” no blaming for what would have beens. The applause was louder and clearer when he said beginning yesterday (July 1), the gates of City Hall will be open to the public, and everyone, and anyone, can call on him and the Vice-Mayor at any time in their offices without previous appointments.

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Adding thrill to the promise of a new (beneficial) regime is the election of Peter Unabia, a congressman representing the first district of Misamis Oriental for three terms, and more famously known as owner of Ang Lechon Manok ni Sr. Pedro, which has 300 branches across Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. 

Days before the May 2019 election, the guessing game was whether the businessman/legislator would run as mayor to fight Vice-Mayor Ruthie Guingona if she would run for mayor. If, as the popular speculation would have it, Ruthie ran for mayor, Unabia would not run for mayor (knowing the popularity of Ruthie, a motherly matron and wife of former Vice President Tito Guingona) , and instead he would run for vice-mayor against the then incumbent mayor Marie Guingona. As it turned out, Ruthie was the PDP-Laban candidate for mayor, and Marie, the candidate for vice-mayor. (It’s Russian roulette, it seems). So Peter ran for vice-mayor, and easily beat Marie.

I asked Peter why he chose to run for vice-mayor, not for mayor, and he said, “ I’ve been asked that question many, many times. I was ending my third term as congressman, so I decided to run for vice-mayor.” The answer was not satisfactory. So, the bemustached man, an agriculturist by training, only laughed, and said, “I trust Erick, he would be a good mayor.”

The Unabia name remains in the roster of Congress, as his son, Christian, has been elected in the May 2019 election as representative of the first district of Mis. Or. Peter’s brother Aaron Paul Unabia is the reelected mayor of Balingoan, Mis. Or. 

When Peter learned that Oriental Energy and Power Generation Corp. has been given the green light by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi to start the development of the Odiongan Hydro-Electric Power Plant, he was enthusiastic. The power plant is needed to generate electric power for Gingoog, and consequently invite investors to the city laid back by its expensive and erratic electric power supply.  Peter asked that he and Mayor Cañosa meet with my husband, Saeed Daof, Oriental Energy’s adviser/attorney-in-fact to discuss the Odiongan project.

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Another interesting fact about this new administration is that the No. 1 city kagawad is Erick’s mother, Evelyn Cañosa. I asked her if she ever thought of running for kagawad, and, then, if she would be elected No. 1 among the city council aspirants. To both, she said no. But it was Peter Unabia who egged her to run.

Evelyn, an elegant woman of 70 years, is most qualified as a city official.  She has a BS in elementary education, a master’s in teaching English, and a doctorate’s degree from Xavier University. Her late husband, Avelino , was elected vice-mayor of Gingoog but passed away after two years.

Erick (one of her two sons), was just an average student, she said. He had asked her if he should aspire to be an actor or a doctor. “You’re not mestizo, you won’t make it as an actor. But you can be a good doctor.” Erick finished med tech but politics beckoned, and he wound up a vice-mayor, and now, mayor.

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Congratulations to the new members of the city council: Evelyn Cañosa, Thadeus Lugod, Marian Kho, Winfred Militante, April Rose Vosotros, Judeline Bernaldez, Jerome Mercado, Myrna Motoomull, Roy Aniscal, Anjun Gomez. Also to SK Fed. Fatima Guanzon, and Robert “Bobet” de Lara.

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Email: dominitorrevillas@gmail.com

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