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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Sep 26, 2016

Mayor Cristina Gonzalez Romualdez, Nanay Ng Tacloban

WE JUST RETURNED to a weekend trip to Tacloban City, Leyte, and we're glad to report that Tacloban Mayor Cristina Gonzalez Romualdez survived her first 100 days in office with flying colors. "I was super duper busy," she says. "I didn't have time for anything else. Naging councilor din ako, but being a mayor means you're responsible sa whole city with 138 barangays. You coordinate with department heads, other advisers and local officials as nanay ng Tacloban."

What would she consider as her biggest achievements so far? "After President Duterte declared his war on drugs, so many people surrendered to us. About 2400 people so far in Tacloban alone. I had to ask the help of the PNP, some businessmen, priests and pastors to help us then we classified them into high, middle and low risks. Some were put into rehab centers and others are treated as outpatient. We have to give them therapy, counseling. May lalake, babae, bading even lolas. Ganun kalaganap ang drugs pala and I'm glad the president waged this war kasi the crime rate here has gone down considerably because of that."

The Yolanda disaster will have its third anniversary on November 8? "What are their plans? "We'll have a mass to commemorate what happened and for the memory of all the people who died. We'll have cultural presentations from various groups to honor the victims and Pres. Duterte is coming over. He was the first one to help us then as mayor of Davao and even brought us his own medical team. And I'm glad that in time for that we have instituted a city-wide text alert system to deliver emergency alerts and warnings, the Community Climate Guide and Response or CCGR alert system

through Globe or Smart. This lets our residents to direct a 24/7 desk during emergency city situations like fire, accidents, and other calamities and they can expect help to come promptly. In time for the 3rd anniversary, we are building a new park at our Astrodome by the sea. I'm putting up many new parks around the city to beautify it and as a mom, I want more parks where kids can play. Also, we're transferring 300 families that are now in temporary shelters into more permanent homes. A lot of people helped us build new structures, like GMA Foundation of Mel Tiangco who built 303 Kapuso homes with their own park, school and market. ABS-CBN naman helped in building a lot of new classrooms."

As the new mayor, she also created a one-stop shop to facilitate applications for business permits. "I want things to work faster. We're also computerizing our records for births, deaths and other data, so everything will be digital. When there's a flood or disaster, you just have to get the disk and not tons and ton of records on papers. We're trying to establish a paperless system to help the environment and prevent cutting of more trees. We're doing a lot of tree planting and Sen. Loren Legarda helps us in our disaster risk reduction and prevention program. We have a color coded ID for residents to follow during disasters para hindi sila nagkakagulo or nagpa-panic."

How's her husband, former Mayor Alfred? Does he give her advice on how to run the city? "He just give suggestions when I ask him, but generally, hindi siya nakikialam. He's now busy running our businesses in Manila."

HOW is her dad, former matinee idol Jose Mari Gonzalez who was also a vocalist of a popular band in the 60s, the Electromaniacs? "Unfortunately, he had a stroke and is still recuperating. Also my mom, na-stroke din and she's now undergoing therapy to regain her movements."

She seems up to neck with work but she still has time to attend to her eldest daughter, Sofia, who's venturing into showbiz as a Viva recording artist. Will she be a stage mom? "No! I will just be her alalay. Music is her passion and she's really a much better singer than me. She also plays a lot of musical instruments which she learned to play by just watching tutorials on Youtube. She even composes her own songs. She'll be recording her first song 'Love Hurts', which she herself wrote, at the Viva office. She's so excited and at 17, I think she's ready."

 Isn't she worried her daughter might be lured by temptations in showbiz? "I trust her. We raised her well. She's quite conservative. She's shocked when her friends in Manila go to bars and drink. She hasn't tried drinking at all and, although her dad and I are not strict, she knows she's not allowed to have a boyfriend yet. She and her younger sister Diana grew up quite close to me. They don't keep secrets from me."

More about the very beautiful Sofia who has a lot of star potential in our next column.