I Am Not Running… Away

Irineo “Bong” G. Alvaro Jr.

The start of this year’s “ber months” signals the coming of two very important seasons. One is the Christmas season, to be celebrated the way any self-respecting Filipino should – with joyful reverence. However, on the shoulders of this revelry comes a second, much rowdier, season. It is the tempestuous, untamed typhoon known commonly as the election season.

To me, the coming seasons have also brought a different kind of precipitous weather. For the past couple of months, I have been fending off a deluge of calls from old friends and associates; a hail of messages from the media; and a veritable downpour of texts from colleagues in the political arena. All of them asking for my confirmation on whether I am going to throw my hat once more into the deep sea of local politics. Such was the storm that various news articles and commentaries came out implying that I am in the run for the mayorship of Angeles City.

Now that we’re well into the first gusts of September, allow me to once and for all, clear the air.

Some time before the ‘ber” months, the issue of Atty. Ed Pamintuan’s term expiration as the Mayor of Angeles City and his desire either towards congress or a cabinet office came into the offing. The rumblings on the matter of his successor, quickly followed suit. Some of my closest friends and supporters whom I have gained during my political heyday approached me and have been relentlessly imploring me to consider the idea of running the race to serve my fellow Angeleños as Mayor. Before anything else, let me first say, that without question I am beyond flattered to even be considered as a possible option for the job. I am grateful and humbled that the decade of service I have rendered in my stint as a Councilor and as a City Administrator, have been remembered with such regard. Whatever may happen, I am proud that many have deemed that my political career to have impacted a lot of people for the better and that it has remained very much untarnished.

Some have even claimed that I was in fact Mayor Ed’s gentleman-in-waiting, a candidate he is both close to and would willingly endorse. Yet, the only claim that I wholeheartedly agree with so far is the claim that Angeleños have an unsatiated hunger for leaders with an ordinary name like mine and that for the most part, they are tired of recycled traditional politicians with the same names year after year. Admittedly, I see that there is now a renewed craving for other options aside from popular family names in the arena. This is the undeniable truth. And this is maybe the reason behind the creation of a group “IBA naman” (purportedly based on my initials) which came from some barangay officials and a growing number of city government workers.

Another undeniable truth is that it has been my long dream to lead my beloved city. As a lifelong academic, I have always aspired to apply the theories I so vehemently teach, to practice the knowledge I have acquired in good governance, and to use the experience I have gathered in legislation and administration. I have invested time and energy from the prime of my life to gain ample aptitude in these fields; not to mention my undying love and passion for it. Even today, I still make it a point to teach vital courses in graduate studies such as Ethics and Good Governance, Advanced Theory and Practice of Public Administration and Public Fiscal Administration. This is my turf and I believe that I am competent in it, maybe even good at it.

Another truth is that despite being a private citizen for over a decade, I have never separated myself from public service. My family and I have established the “Apung Neung Foundation” named after my late father. Through it, 30 students have been given the opportunity of a tuition-free education. In my managerial capacity, we have also founded the Bridges of Benevolent Initiatives Foundation (BBIF) assisting about a hundred students in both their financial and material necessities .

Along with these endeavours, I squeezed in writing inspirational and management books to reconnect with my passion to share and motivate even through the simple strokes of my pen like the Legislators’ Modules I wrote before.

Having said all this, here’s the next immovable truth: I am not running and allow me to tell you why.

First, I have considerable responsibilities on my plate. I perform critical functions as president of BB International Leisure and Resort Development Corporation which operates the luxurious five-star hotel, Midori; and the newest, most modern and among the largest water theme parks in Asia, the Aqua Planet. Next, the all-Filipino consortium I chair is developing the nature-inspired MIREJ Hotel in Clark and another mixed-use project in-the-offing. Then, there is my chairmanship of the board of directors of the Clark Investors and Locators Association (CILA). And if that is not busy enough, I have recently been elected as member of the Board of Trustees of the Wesleyan University, Philippines (WUP). All that on top of my commitment to the graduate studies teaching position at Don Honorio Ventura Technological State University.

One could argue that even with these responsibilities, there is still space to take on a public-service position. I do not work full eight-hour days after all. But I staunchly disagree. I uphold my professional work ethics, triply so when it comes to serving the people. I am not joining the race because the city does not deserve my divided attention. It does not deserve less than my hundred percent, in fact my integrity and dedication to it demands that I give it all that and more. Which is something I simply cannot give.

Next, even without running for office my heart can still belong to public service. I am utterly passionate in my advocacy of towards “alternative politics” with the core being the “anti-trapo” movement. “Plataporma, hindi Pera at Porma.”. Expect that I will work tirelessly and unapologetically for this cause, converting the race into a race of credentials, capability, integrity and platforms. The record will bear me out that I myself have been proof that this is possible. I have made it a point that during my decade in government I was one of the few who made waves in pushing for an integrity, performance and a platform-based politics.

Therefore, together with my old group of advocates, expect that our presence will be intensely felt, expect that we shall persistently urge the candidates and voters to focus on the upliftment of the marginalized. I will not stop pushing for the ideals that politics is not a form of employment nor an investment. It is a passion and a vocation. It is not what you gain out of it, but what you can give through it. It is not what you can show off but what you can share. It is not the promises if elected but what you have done and exhibited in the past either in government or as a private individual. Expect to see me in front lines pushing for reforms. Because I owe it to every Angeleño to lead the movement towards a better Angeles – “Ing Bayung Angeles (IBA)”. I will be one with you in promoting an honest and clean elections.

My heart goes to friends from the Pampanga Press Club like Bong Lacson, Deng Pangilinan, Perry Pangan, Eric Jimenez, Noel Tulabut , Ding Cervantes, Ashley Manabat, Rey Navales and Tonnette Orejas. The friends from the corporate like Abel Manliclic, Mon Garcia, Edgar Lim and Tatang Perto Cruz and the academe arena like President Baking of DHVTSU, Prof Frankie Villanueva, Dr. Dolly Quiambao and Atty. Imelda Quiambao Tuazon — yes, they all came from diverse groups but unified with one cause. And to all the people whom I may not be familiar with but chose to talk to me and tried to convince me to run, I am overwhelmed and immensely honoured for the trust and support. Thank you very much.

Surely, the winds of politics will be blowing heavily all throughout this election season. And make no mistake, I am not running, but I will not be running away. I will continuously join crusade and tirelessly carry the banner of being an educated electorate and that public service is the most noble profession.

May God bless us all. Mabuhay ang Mamamayang Angeleño!