IT USED TO BE that when people talk about “I Am Iloilo City’s” neighbor across the sea, the island province of Guimaras, what immediately comes to mind are visions of ripe, sweet, succulent, fresh mangoes. Add to that other equally tasty products i.e. mango pizza, mango jam, mango wine, etc.
Of course, Guimaras is more than just mangoes. It has what one expects of a tropical island – lovely beaches.
Just recently, however, something hit the headlines that there’s something more than mangoes and beaches in Guimaras. In just one instant, what took years of information and promotion campaigns to develop that identity of a tropical island with fine beaches and the best mangoes in the world was seemingly overshadowed.
It happened on April 15 and came out on the news a couple of days after; in fact it made the headlines of Panay News and people can’t seem to stop talking about Guimaras, but not about the mangoes or beaches…something else.
Excerpts from the April 17 issue of Panay News:
Leading congressional candidate Julienne “Jam-jam” Baronda won over her self-imposed target of finishing her master’s degree in public administration on time. The goal was tough since she had to juggle her time between her Senate work, mothering, managing her business ventures, and studying.
“I won over the challenges that I had to conquer to get this diploma. I was a full time Senate staff based in Manila who had to fly in every week for my weekend classes. I had to travel all over the country most of the time. I was a full-time mom to my seven-year-old daughter. Thank God I am done now,” Baronda said during her graduation rites for her Master in Public Administration (MPA) degree from the Guimaras State College on April 15.
Seems ordinary enough, in fact quite commendable that wannabe congresswoman of “I Am Iloilo City” Julienne Baronda a.k.a. “Jam- jam” finished and graduated with a degree in Master in Public Administration despite her seemingly busy schedule.
However, what makes this curious is the fact that she enrolled and graduated from Guimaras State College.
I could be wrong here to assume that she was born, bred and resides in “I Am Iloilo City” as she might actually be a resident of McLain, Buenavista, province of Guimaras where the Guimaras State College also has its campus.
It defies logic and common sense as, according to her: Being based in Metro Manila where she was working as Sen. JV Ejercito’s chief political officer, she would take a flight home on Thursdays to be with her first grade daughter and do her mother duties like tutoring her with her school assignments.
If she is on an out-of-town assignment, she would take two or three connecting flights on Fridays to be present in class on Saturdays.
Add to all that airplane rides she still needs to go to the wharf and take a pumpboat to attend to her “classes” in Guimaras, which defies logic and common sense when one could just enrol in any of the universities in Iloilo City, i.e. University of the Philippines, University of San Agustin (where she’s an alumna) or West Visayas State University.
So why go all the way to Guimaras? Are the schools in Iloilo City way below the academic excellence of Guimaras State College?
And why not in Manila where she claimed to be based? Perhaps De LaSalle University, Ateneo De Manila University or University of the Philippines are way below the standards of higher learning of Guimaras State College?
Most graduating high school students in Guimaras dream of going to the big universities across the waters in Iloilo City yet we have Julienne Baronda a.k.a. “Jam-jam” taking up her master’s degree in an obscure state college in Guimaras.
Julienne Baronda is applying for the job as congresswoman or representative of “I Am Iloilo City” yet the schools and universities in Iloilo City appear to be not good enough for her.
She’s up against a lawyer, Joshua Alim, and Perla Zulueta, a PhD, both graduates of Central Philippine University or CPU and the University of the Philippines Visayas or UPV, respectively, just two of the prestigious institutions of higher learning in “I Am Iloilo City” and Julienne Baronda a.k.a. “Jam-jam” just had to graduate from Guimaras State College.
Until this peep show from Julienne Baronda, Moi was not even aware that one could ride a pumpboat across the strait and enrol in Guimaras State College and come home with a degree in Master in Public Administration.
On a lighter note, “Jam-jam” is almost akin to mango jam, so there must be some kind of transcendental connection we are not aware of.
Please take note, Guimaras congresswoman Lucille Nava. The new face or poster girl for Guimaras is Julienne Baronda a.k.a. “Jam-jam.” Just imagine a poster or video of her running amidst mangoes and along the beaches.
Another curious note is that together with Julienne Baronda who graduated also with the degree of Master in Public Administration are her sister, current “I Am Iloilo City” councilor Julie Grace Baronda a.k.a. “Love”, and her brother-in-law Dr. Homer Retodo, currently officer-in-charge or OIC of La Paz Maternity and Reproductive Health Center.
Both are prominent natives and public officials of “I Am Iloilo City” yet they preferred Guimaras State College over the more prestigious institutions of higher learning in the city wherein the taxes of the natives are paying for their salaries.
One can only guess. It’s probably the mangoes and the romantic pump boat ride. (email@example.com/PN)