ILOILO City – As estimated crowd of 8,000 individuals congested the public plaza of Mandurriao district for the grand rally of Team Uswag candidates spearheaded by mayoral candidate Cong. Jerry Treñas on Tuesday afternoon.
“Uswag! Gugma! Arriba!”
The three Ilonggo words permeated the air as Treñas and fellow Team Uswag candidates under the National Unity Party (NUP) – Julienne “Jam-jam” Baronda for congresswoman, Jeffrey Ganzon for vice mayor and their 12 Sangguniang Panlungsod wannabes – occupied the stage. With them was Treñas’ better-half, Rosalie Sarabia-Treñas.
“Uswag,” the Hiligaynon equivalent of “progress,” summarizes the rapid growth of Iloilo City during the incumbency of Treñas as mayor for nine years (2001 to 2010) and congressman for another nine years (2010 to 2019).
“Gugma” stands for the “love” that House aspirant Baronda feels for the Ilonggos, whom she had served in the past (until 2010) as councilor.
“Arriba” was the famous battle cry of the late senator Rodolfo Ganzon and adopted by his son, the re-electionist Vice Mayor Jeffrey Ganzon. It is Spanish word for “up” and “above”.
The 12 “Team Uswag” candidates for the Sangguniang Panlungsod include Jay Treñas, Lady Julie Grace Baronda, Ely Estante, Armand Parcon, Madonna Martin, Reyland Hervias, Jojo Javellana, Rodulph Jeffrey Ganzon, Gilbert Garcia, Allan Zaldivar, Rommel Duron, and Brian Zulueta.
The multi-sectoral mix of audience consisted of their political leaders, followers, friends, relatives, students, professionals, businessmen, laborers, farmers, and terminated city hall job hires.
“We are proud to be Ilonggos,” Treñas boomed, acknowledging the excitement of the audience waving placards, unfolding streamers, clapping and jumping.
“We are here to pledge our commitment to level up. Together, we can make it happen. We have to spur economic development through business activities especially in these difficult times. We have to elevate the city to the next uswag level,” he stressed.
Treñas revealed that insistent public demand had influenced him to run for mayor once again.
“I know,” he said, “that efficient job hires were laid-off because of their support for me. Our once beautiful plants all over the city are now dying because the beautification employees were laid-off. Iloilo now is slowly going back to what it used to be. Heavy traffic is everywhere because a good number of experienced traffic aides were also laid-off. The children in the barangays cannot attend day-care classes because their teachers were laid-off.”
Mayor Jose Espinosa III had replaced the efficient job hires with new faces. He is being criticized for doing so in excess of allocations and obviously out of political motive, assuming each of them would influence the other voters in the family.
Given the chance to be next mayor, the outgoing congressman lectured, “If you feel like losing everything, remember that trees lose their leaves every year and stand tall and wait for better days to come for their leaves to grow again.”
The Mandurrianons, Treñas stressed, comprised a good number of respondents who made him consistently No. 1 with 64.5 percent in the latest survey of the Random Access Consultants, Inc. (RACI).
Treñas reminded his audience that, before he became congressman, he had served as councilor, and then for three terms as mayor from 2001 to 2010.
In 1992, he coined the slogan “Think Big! Think Iloilo!”
In 2006, he launched the slogan “Iloilo City: Premier City by 2015.” There is now no doubt he did the ground work for making it come true.
He said that at the rate it is growing, by the year 2028, Iloilo City would have inevitably gained national recognition as one of the “top three best urbanized cities in the country in terms of livability, competitiveness, viability and governance practice.”
“For the city to prosper,” Treñas said, “we have to keep the people healthy and well-equipped to earn a living. We have to build a hospital for the poor, upgrade our public markets to level up with the malls, complete drainage projects, build high-rise condominiums as relocation sites and build senior-citizen and youth centers.”
He reiterated that he had already prepared a roadmap that would guide him in his “level-up” intention for the city in his forthcoming administration. It’s acronym WHEELS stands for specific programs of governance as demanded by public clamor.
The “W” in “WHEELS” would stress public welfare, safety, emergency response, effective drainage system, housing projects for the poor and traffic management.
“H” for “Health and Sanitation” is aimed at improving access to medical and dental services, properly maintained city toilets, potable water and sustained feeding program especially for children.
“E” is for education that would enhance assistance to public schools and day-care centers, upgrade the Iloilo City Community College (ICCC) and Technical Institute of Iloilo City (TIIC) and provide continuing education.
The other “E” for “Environmental management” would rationalize the Esplanade operation, improvement of all plazas and coordination with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the Department of Health (DOH).
“L” for “livelihood” means finding ways and means to provide employment and livelihood opportunities for the poor; and would find ways and means to intensify tourism and investment promotions; promote Iloilo City as meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibitions (MICE) capital; intensify programs for employment, entrepreneurship and livelihood trainings; and modernize slaughter house and public markets.
“S” is for “Sustainability” or continuous delivery of all government programs, projects, activities and services.
He vowed to also continue the projects he had done while congressman, most especially the Uswag Scholarship that has enabled thousands of poor students to finish college.
An unexpected “sidelight” during the rally was an unexpected power outage for a few minutes. In spite of that, the audience stayed and waited for a private generator to revive power.
All the other candidates spoke about what they would do once elected./PN