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Friday, August 1, 2014

“ONE of these things is not like the others/One of these things just doesn’t belong/Can you tell which thing is not like the others/By the time I finish my song?” says the Sesame Street song, One Of These Things (is Not Like The Others).

The other day, I went with Gov. Alfredo Marañón Jr., Silay Mayor José “Oti” Montelibano, and DA Undersecretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat to the mountain barangay Patag, 12 years after my last visit.

I hitched a ride with the personnel of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist – all government people.


No, I didn’t feel left out. In fact, I wasn’t one unlike the others/One of these guys just belonged to the group.

Together with Ramón Uy Jr. of Fresh Start, I felt at home with my people on the promotion of organic agriculture especially in the Negrense mountains.

I bonded with all I was with that day. The indigenous peoples, the mountain farmers, the national and local government, the private business sector, we all shared a common purpose: to create a provincial green economy. We are ushering in an era to face the challenge of climate change.

Somehow, I had quite a hard time calling Berna Undersectary. In the first place, I’m too much of an egalitarian to call people a doctor even with people who flaunt their PhDs, or mayors. The only exception perhaps is Governor Marañón.

I met Berna before during last year’s General Assembly of the Organic na Negros! Organic Producers and Retailers Association. And then I get to post comments and likes on her Facebook account.

With Oti, we got to exchange notes on trolls on our respective Facebook accounts, how we deal with them. Berna blocks them, I unfriend them. Perhaps, I have a cruel streak. I want the trolls to read my posts on them, and unable to ruin my day they can’t bother me in my wall.

I guess being to talk about trivia and getting a good laugh is powerful to break the ice. I felt like I knew them my whole life.

I connected with the Silay mayor. Like him, I didn’t pursue a legal career when martial law was declared. Everyone in the family expected me to follow the footsteps of my Dad who was a provincial fiscal.

Oti and I shared the same reason why we chose a different career path. How can we respect lawmaking being legislated by a dictator?

Our discussions veered toward his mass transport project that somehow failed to follow through. For a government official, I was a bit amused that he bewailed government red tape and tons of documents that had to be complied with.

Of course, there’s nothing like bonding with people sharing stories around a mountain campfire before enjoying our night sleep. There was no campfire, however, despite the rainy weather and we headed back to Bacolod in the afternoon.

I got to know more of Gov. Marañón. The key link was our common passion with developing our Negrense mountains. I broached the invitation of the FAO-based Mountain Partnership Secrtariat to join the global network of development practitioner. Thanks to the spadework of Ramón Uy Jr. and Armigenia Benedicto, I didn’t have to deliver my spiel.

Yes, we bonded. I felt we belong to one another. It wasn’t Sesame Street but the Three Musketeers Tous pour un, un pour tous (all for one, one for all).



Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on August 01, 2014.


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