Wednesday, November 28, 2012
He is also considered as exceedingly brash, too impatient, excessively energetic and a tad too eager perhaps to prove himself in a political milieu which frowns upon anyone who rocks the boat too much and too fast, where extreme caution and the search for the broadest consensus (the illusive win-win option) has always been the key to political survival and where new ideas and new ways of doing things have always floundered in the face of the extreme conservatism that has always characterized the nature of governance in this part of the world.
To his credit, he is considered, even by his detractors, as a popular and even charismatic leader. Ever since he first became a municipal councilor in 2007 and municipal vice-mayor a year later, he has managed to build up a substantial political following among the local electorate drawn to his populist image and rhetoric. Gifted with an engaging and boisterously affable personality, his appeal is said to reach across socio-economic, political and religious divisions.
His admirers point to his go-get-something-done attitude as his biggest asset. They say that he has helped rejuvenate, in many ways, the staid and somewhat moribund state of affairs at the LIanga municipal hall and has acquired, in just a span of just a few years, a reputation as one of this province's more visibly aggressive and proactive young leaders.
Monday, November 19, 2012
I remember the beach as it was in the days of my childhood in the 1970's. There was no clear access road then but just a dirt track that led from the highway that ran straight and true for a hundred meters or so and which quickly snaked right and then wandered its way through and in between coconut trees sheltering underneath their leafy fronds a straggly line of native huts, most of them facing, just a stone's throw away, the wide expanse of fine sand and the gently rolling sea..
There was no Pugad Beach then, the whole area was just known as Pugad. The owners of the many beachfront lots then had still no idea of the tourism and commercial potential of their properties. Many of them were simple farmers and fishermen eking an honest but hard living out of the bounty of the sea and the land adjacent to it.
My brothers and I would spend hours frolicking in the sea or just lying like beached whales on the pristine, grayish-white sand while the gentle surf would wash over us in wave after wave of white foam and greenish-blue water. On the entire expanse of the gently curving beach, only sounds that can be heard except for the hiss of the sea were the occasional screeching of faraway birds and the gentle swish of the sea breeze on the foliage of the trees and coconut trees on the far shore.
Monday, November 12, 2012
That is, however, not the case and why that is so is a question that begs to be answered.
Roy Sarmen is only in his late forties but he is already a veteran politico who belongs to a big political clan in Lianga. This can be a decisive plus factor in a culture where voting for political candidates on the basis of blood and family relations is commonplace. He is a former barangay captain of the poblacion barangay and a former municipal vice-mayor who in 2008 succeeded the late Vicente Pedrozo as mayor after the latter succumbed to a lingering illness before he could complete his term as mayor of Lianga. In 2010, he was elected to his first full term as mayor. His father, the late Leonor Sarmen Sr., also served as town mayor for a couple of terms.
Sammy Dollano had been this town's municipal agricultural officer for some years and was formerly a municipal councilor prior to resigning that post to accept appointment to head Lianga's municipal agriculture office. He also comes from a political family and his father, Meneleo Dollano, used to be active in local politics during his time. He is also considered to be well connected politically and has familial links, through his wife, to both Rep. Philip Pichay (1st District of Surigao del Sur) and his brother, Prospero "Butch" Pichay who together with the Ty-Pimentel clan is the dominant political force in Surigao del Sur.
Of course, the official campaign period for local candidates is still more than two months away and both contenders still have plenty of time to brainstorm and strategize and then ultimately sell their candidacies to the voting public. But in the case of these two already experienced politicians whose personalities and public service track records are not exactly unfamiliar to most of the people here, the noticeable lack of palpable excitement over what should be a landmark contest between two, young and up-and-coming political mavericks should be a cause for concern for them and their supporters.
One thing is crystal clear, though. Lianga is fast coming up a crucial crossroads in its political history and it behooves us, its citizens, to make sure that the very people who seek our mandate to lead us for at least the next three years are the very best and most qualified people we have among us. We also have the obligation to encourage the development of of a local political culture that encourages both full and open participation as well as accountability and excellence in public service, where candidates are elected to office because they are actually the best there is and not because, the choices being limited, the only bet possible must be those on who, in the final analysis, are the lesser evil.