MAGANES: Mayor Belen Fernandez: A leader with a big heart

May 26, 2014 at 7:49 am Leave a comment


Last May 22, I attended the State of the City Address (SOCA) of Mayor Belen Fernandez of Dagupan City at the CSI Stadia. It was a well attended event by the officials of villages, the city’s prominent people like Dr. Gonzalo Duque, former City Mayor Al Fernandez, businessman Ashok Vasandani, teachers, non- government organizations (NGOs), etc.It was the first SOCA of Mayor Fernandez after she was elected into office on May 13, 2013.
Mayor Fernandez’s SOCA has the theme “Bridging Communities, Bringing Government Closer to the People”, and was delivered for almost two hours punctuated by applauses from the audience. Personally, I did not appreciate the mind boggling presentation of data and statistics that made the SOCA too long to bear. I did not appreciate either the presentation of accomplishments comparing that of her predecessor Mayor Benjamin Lim. In my mind, the comparison of accomplishments just showed how the people of Dagupan City have been politically divided until now. However, that comparison of accomplishments maybe was the way of Mayor Fernandez to inform the people of Dagupan City that in the span of one year leading the city, she has accomplished more and put the city’s leadership in proper perspective amid the inherited budgetary deficits.
What struck me though in her SOCA was when she said that the sale of McAdore Hotel during Mayor Lim’s watch was highly irregular. The McAdore sale to businessman and former Ambassador Antonio Cabangon Chua, which at present is mired with controversy, did not provide the Dagupenos the chance to have its real value. Mayor Fernandez said the P119 million does not reflect the McAdore Hotel’s value of about P300 million – an amount which deprived the city’s coffer of P185 million. ” With that amount, more schools could be built in the city, “said Mayor Fernandez who even promised that as long as she’s the Mayor of Dagupan City, that irregular sale of McAdore Hotel to Cabangon Chua will not be perfected until the real value could be met.

In her SOCA, Mayor Fernandez also outlined the programs for 2014, which she said would be more focused on education, social services and livelihood opportunities for the Dagupenos.
But where was Vice Mayor Brian Lim? The second leader of the city was apparently absent (somebody whispered to me that he’s on official leave). Did he intentionally boycott the SOCA? Was Vice Mayor Lim already aware that the content of the SOCA will just be a reprise of political issues hurled against his father- Former Mayor Benjie Lim? Well, even without his presence the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Dagupan City through its temporary presiding officer Councilor Maybelyn Fernandez attentively listened to the SOCA of Mayor Fernandez. I have seen most of them grinning everytime Mayor Fernandez was comparing her accomplishments with that of Mayor Lim’s administration.

After the SOCA,the guests were treated with sumptuous food inside the Stadia. Media men feasted on controversial issues that were bared on the SOCA. While having the meals, I overheard a media man quip:. ” Why was the SOCA held at CSI Stadia when it was a property of Mayor Fernandez? Was it not appropriate to have held it at the city’s People’s Astrodome to be in consonance with the theme ” bringing the government closer to the people”? Most of us media men at the table wryly smiled. Well, that guy has the point but not that very material as the SOCA has already been delivered. The city administration maybe has all the valid reasons why the SOCA has to be delivered at the CSI Stadia. To me the main reason was the ventilation as the stadia is equipped with air-conditioning units that will make the audience comfortable. If it was held somewhere and with hot atmosphere, the audience would have not withstand the almost two hours delivery of the SOCA.

Well, the venue was not that important. After the meals, media men attended the press conference of Mayor Fernandez on her “Talakayan, Impormasyon at Paliwanag”. Mayor Fernandez was with her staff-City Nutrition Officer Lea Aquino and City Engineer Virginia Rosario. A lot of questions were hurled at Mayor Fernandez who gamely answered. Many questions were just a clarification on the contents of her SOCA.

The most intriguing question that I heard was from Lelia Sy of Northern Times when she asked: ” What makes Mayor Fernandez seemingly not tired of what she’s doing in the city? I admired the mayor’s answer: ” Napapagod din ako. But seeing people how happy they are upon providing services, those made me more than happy as a public servant. It is my passion to serve the people that keeps me going.” Then the mayor challenged the media men: ” If you want to help me, look for somebody that will be needing any help. I will help that person or persons in my capacity as Mayor of Dagupan City. After all, serving the people is my foremost mandate.”

Here’s a leader who truly serves her people. With that, I salute you Mayor Belen Fernandez!

(For comments email me at

Entry filed under: News.

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