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Newsmakers

‘Onward we march, Ormoc City!’

NEW BEGINNINGS - Büm D. Tenorio Jr. - The Philippine Star
�Onward we march, Ormoc City!�
Ormoc City Mayor Lucy Torres Gomez.
STAR/ File

Ormoc City shone bright like a diamond on its 75th charter anniversary.

The Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, ensconced on the city stage of Ormoc, played beautiful Christmas carols and kundiman songs while the city was drenched in the night rain. The performance was part of the recent Brilyante month-long celebration to celebrate the diamond year of the city.

Under the sheets of rain, protected only by umbrellas, Ormoc City Mayor Lucy Torres Gomez, fourth district of Leyte Rep. Richard Gomez and their only child Juliana, watched with enthusiasm the PPO serenade the crowd. The pitter-patter of raindrops on the ground did not make the crowd seek refuge. It felt like Christmas already in Ormoc with the music of the PPO. Never mind if everybody present was doused in raindrops, wet and soaked.

“It was heartwarming to see Ormoc residents enjoying PPO music,” said Lucy, unmindful that her gray pumps and the hemline of her below-the-knee green skirt were splattered with mud from the rain. It was her desire “to bring more culture” to the Ormocanons. The night before, the PPO had performed with The Nightingales, a group that sang classical Filipino pieces. On yet another day, classical singer Lara Maigue performed arias to the delight of the Ormocanons. Even the husband-wife tandem of Ogie Alcasid and Regine Velasquez had an almost four-hour free concert — with the world-class El Gamma Penumbra as front act — at the Ormoc city stage that was attended by 50,000 residents.

More than the shows and performances experienced by the Ormocanons (that also included the holding of Miss Ormoc 2022), the city shone brighter because they knew they were in good hands with the city mayor. On the 112th day of Lucy in office as mayor, she reported to the public the gains her administration. When Lucy took her oath of office in July, she presented her plans for the city through “Tree of Dreams,” her vision for “health, wellness, abundance and prosperity for all Ormocanons.”

Mayor Gomez with (from left) Kananga Mayor Matt Torres, parents Manuel and Julie Torres, daughter Juliana, husband Rep. Richard Gomez, sister Carmen Jean Torres Rama and brother Julio Torres.

“I take great pleasure in reporting to you, that the seed we planted has now sprouted, grown into a seedling, taken root and is now a young tree,” Lucy began her state of the city address.

“I am very proud of the activities that your local government has undertaken to accomplish nurture our Tree of Dreams. But before anything else, I would like to share the impetus for the Tree of Dreams. I wish for my beloved Ormoc to be a place where the happiness quotient is the main indicator for success. I wish for Ormoc to be a blue zone city, where people have low rates of chronic disease and live longer than anywhere else. I wish for Ormoc to be as beautiful and as peaceful a place as the people who call it home. For all these reasons, we planted the Tree of Dreams,” she said.

The city mayor’s five-part vision is composed of “the soil of peace,” “the roots of health,” “social infrastructure,” “physical infrastructure” and “branches of prosperity.”

The Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra performs on the Ormoc City stage.

The “soil of peace,” Lucy said is the foundation of the city’s development, which was laid out for the Ormocanons by her husband, former Mayor Richard Gomez. “We expand the attainment of peace from winning the war against the drug trade and controlling the volume of crime, to becoming the first truly disaster-resilient city in the country,” she claimed.

One of Richard’s banner accomplishments for Ormoc when he was mayor was eradicating drugs in the city, which used to be one of the country’s hot spots for illegal substance.

“I had to clean up the city of drug operations which I did with the help of President Duterte and the Philippine National Police. In less than six months, Ormoc was drug free. It was a tough job. But it was doable,” he said.

Lucy said, “Since the administration of former Mayor Richard, our city police has been the principal group that developed, and now nurturing our ‘soil of peace.’ In fact, they have managed to reduce total volume of crime, by 28 percent compared to the same period last year. They continue to suppress the drug trade, confiscate illegal firearms and quash illegal activities such as illegal gambling, fishing, logging as well as the enforcement of our city ordinances.”

She mentioned that the city is now in the process of finalizing the updated 10-year local disaster risk reduction management plan for 2023 to 2033. “In this plan, we will have used the most up-to-date and most detailed risk maps to help us better plan — not just for disaster rescue and response, but more so, for Ormoc City to be the first truly disaster resilient city,” she said.

Lucy continued: “The ‘roots of health’ represents the health and wellness of Ormocanons — physically, mentally, and spiritually. We also expand the coverage of ‘health’ to focus not only on curative health, but more so on preventive health, by promoting healthful practices such as eating more organic vegetables, produced right here in Ormoc City, physical exercise such as dance, qigong, yoga and sports, and the use of traditional medicine.”

For the “social infrastructure,” Lucy said the city government has facilities and programs that invest and develop in the education, training and skills of all Ormocanons. More than skills, she added, the social infrastructure must facilitate cultural transformation, for it is in “the minds and hearts that real change originates from.”

“The ‘physical infrastructure’ (is composed of) our systems and structures that facilitate physical movement within the city, as well as travel from our city to other places via land, water and air. Physical infrastructure includes systems that bring basic utilities to every home in Ormoc. This also includes physical structures that add value to living here in Ormoc such as our parks, museums, our market and housing. In the same breath, cultural transformation must also be reflected in our physical infrastructure. That is why beautiful living spaces necessarily go hand in hand with art and music,” Lucy said.

The “branches of prosperity” she said are the industries that enable Ormocanons to be productive, and improve their quality of lives.

Many Ormocanons know they continue to be in good hands with Lucy at the helm of the city. They shine bright like a diamond because of the brand of leadership afforded them. This early, they are excited to listen to the PPO and other artists again — rain or shine.

“Onward we march, Ormoc City,” Lucy concluded. 

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