Are Cebuanos really too hard to unite?

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Josephus Jimenez - The Freeman

Nicolo Machiavelli created the scheme of "divide, conquer, and rule". Ferdinand Magellan used that Machiavellian stratagem when he entered into a strategic and tactical alliance with Rajah Humabon, of mainland Cebu, and used the latter's forces to help fight Lapulapu of Mactan. Since 1521, the Cebuanos could not come up with a true and genuine united Cebu. The politicians keep on fragmenting us. And by the way, that seems to be also the destiny or the curse of the whole Philippines.

The much-known historical rivalry between the Osmeñas and the Cuencos before and after the Second World War caused many lives and much money. The original leader of the Osmeñas was Don Sergio, the father of Serging Osmeña and the grandfather of the late Senator Sonny Osmeña, his brother Lito, as well as Mayor Tom and former senator Serge Osmeña. He was a decent, honest, and well-loved leader, a former classmate of President Manuel Quezon in UST Law School. In no time, Quezon and Osmeña had a falling out and here in Cebu, the leadership of the Osmeñas as opposed by the party of the Cuencos led by Don Mariano Jesus Cuenco, Don Miguel and Don Manuel. Cebuanos then were either Osmeñistas or Cuencistas.

The Osmeñas controlled Cebu City and northern Cebu while the Cuencos lorded it over in the south. They even have rivalry in the land transportation business. The Osmeñas controlled the Cebu Autobus lines while the Cuencos dominated the Cebu Bisaya Lines. The appointments of judges, fiscals, and other officials were controlled by whoever was in power. The Osmeñas were members of the Nacionalista Party, which was the party founded by Don Sergio, and to which belonged Presidents Ramon Magsaysay, Carlos P. Garcia, and later, Ferdinand Marcos Sr. The Cuencos belonged to the Liberal Party, founded by Manuel Roxas and which was the party of Presidents Elpidio Quirino, Diosdado Macapagal, and also Marcos Sr. before he jumped to the Nacionalista Party in 1965.

When Marcos became a Nacionalista, the son of Don Sergio, Serging, joined the Liberal Party. Serging was credited for uniting the Osmeñas and the Cuencos and their local party was then called Osmeña-Cuenco Fusion or the "Pusyon". When Serging Osmeña ran against Marcos in 1969, Ferdinand Marcos Sr. used the Machiavellian tactic of Ferdinand Magellan to divide Cebu. Marcos allied with Don Ramon Durano, the kingpin of the north and gave Durano all the powers and the funds to defeat Serging in 1969 even in his own province of Cebu. Ramon Durano organized the Durano-Zosa-Dumon-Kintanar alliance against Osmeña. The rivalry between Osmeña and Durano was a deja vu of the old political battles of Osmeña vs. Cuenco.

With millions of funds poured into Cebu, in 1969 with guns, goons, gold, guts, grit, and gumption, Marcos defeated Osmeña in the towns controlled by Durano and allies. Ramon Durano controlled what is now the 1st District, from Danao all the way to the northeastern side including the Camotes islands and their component towns. Tereso Dumon controlled the old 7th District, which is now the 4th District and part of what is now 3rd District starting from Balamban to Bogo. Manuel Zosa was the kingpin of the old 6th District from Ronda to Toledo City, which then included Dumanjug, Barili, Aloguinsan Pinamungajan, and Toledo. Kintanar held the SAAD or Sibonga, Argao, Alcoy and Dalaguete, the old 4th District. The old 5th District (now the 7th District) from Boljoon to Santander up to Alcantara was in the hands of Tito Calderon, son-in-law of Durano.

Serging only won in Cebu City, Mandaue, Mactan, Consolacion, Compostela and all the towns from Talisay to Carcar. From that time on, especially when Marcos declared martial law, Cebu was "united" by compulsion. Only the KBL dominated all local politicians including the Duranos and his allies. It was only the emergence of young leaders then, like Hilario Davide Jr., Pablo and Jesus Garcia, and the Pusyon Bisaya that gave the shadow of an opposition in Cebu. Now the Garcias are allied with Marcos while the late Noy Pabling, as I fondly called him, was a critic of FM Sr. History has a strange way of twists and turns.

But until now, there is really no genuine unity. Mayor Michael Rama and Governor Gwen Garcia seem to have drawn the line between the province and the city due to the issue of BRT. And so, is history ushering us into another deja vu?

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