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Meeting Mayor Beng


It was an honor for me to be given time for a meeting by the newly-elected Mayor of Zamboanga City, Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar, who won the seat literally by a landslide vote.  While I was in Australia, I read the pre-election remarks of her political detractors saying that she will just be another puppet of Congressman Celso Lobregat.  At that time, there were other sincere and pseudo-hopefuls who also expressed their concerns on the manner she might run Zamboanga for the next three years, at least.  Following her oath-taking, some scenarios started to change, with the former pseudo-hopefuls not choreographically nodding at her programs.

Meeting Beng also gave me my own perspective on how she intends to run Zamboanga, picking up on her vision to make her leadership a pro-people form, leaning on people’s consultation for reforms and further development in the city. For those who do not seem to know the Mayor well, Beng does consider opinions and suggestions but eventually ends up making her own decisions.  If ever she gets influenced at some point by political personalities, there could be a reason that is likely to benefit the better good.

From her Facebook status post of weeks ago, she asked what would Zamboangueños wish her to look into.  I was surprised with the responses.  First, the barrage of responses was an indicator of how thirsty Zamboangueños were for people-centered changes, rather than political personality-centered development.  Second, the responses showed a variety of areas that Zamboanga’s executive leader should look into, as field lapses in governmental concerns:  energy, water, environment, peace and security, business and economy, and what-have-you.  Third, the responses showed tremendous support for her leadership which is indicative of a positive start in her first term as mayor.  Fourth, the responses revealed that many people expect her to be Wonder Woman.  And I believe, to the fourth, someone else has already earned the title of Wonder Woman.

I am personally interested though in her approach to pushing further Zamboanga as Asia’s Latin City.  While there are some Zamboangueños who are not keen to the idea owing to lack of information or due to a deliberate misunderstanding of the concept, or a refusal to entertain if not accept the idea because of political leanings and self-imposed arrogant-like theories, there are some Zamboangueños who do like the city brand that Zamboanga is Asia’s Latin City.

As of now, the issues on energy and environment are simply beyond her—as it was beyond former Mayor Celso Lobregat’s.  One cannot dictate nature, and Mother Earth, after all.  However, I do believe the Mayor can intervene for the people she has professed to serve on 30 June this year in getting providers of electricity/power and water to serve the public accordingly. 

Meeting Mayor Beng made me realize that the partnership with Congressional District Representatives Lilia Nuño and Celso Lobregat would bring more changes to Zamboanga.  Two new faces in the triumvirate leadership would mean better reforms since the traditional politician is just one.  Hopefully he can move to join the two ladies in reform-and-development partnerships in the next three years.  Interestingly, this is the Congressional Representative to the district where I belong that I am talking about.  

Well, hasta la vista, Zamboanga.  Sawadeeka! (Frencie Carreon, La Chica Viajera, for Zamboanga Today)

By: Frencie L. Carreon

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