LANDMARK ROLE: A milestone in her life is how former actress Cristina Gonzales-Romualdez calls her oath-taking as newly elected mayor of Tacloban City. She is the second woman mayor of the city after Obdulia Cinco in 1976.
While public service isn’t new to the retired actress, she says she feels she can do so much more for Taclobanons as a city executive.
She told a bunch of visiting Manila media members moments after having been sworn into office that she intends to continue the many projects she has initiated during her nine-year term as councilor.
Foremost among these is CLEP, short for Cristina’s Learn and Earn Program.
CLEP is a comprehensive livelihood and entrepreneurship program that aims to empower city residents. The program offers modules in food processing, dress-making, reflexology, among other short courses designed to start off graduates on their own livelihood ventures.
Training under CLEP is for free and held regularly at Balyuan Training Center in the heart of town.
Mayor “Kring-Kring” said her training program has grown by leaps and bounds that it is now affiliated with government agency TESDA.
The tie-up, she said, has allowed greater expansion of the program. More courses have been added.
TACLOBAN TODAY: When one speaks of Tacloban, the horrors spawned by Super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013 inevitably surfaces. Does she think Taclobanons have healed from the tragedy?
“I don’t think our people have completely healed from the trauma of Yolanda. However, there is also that realization that they have to move on,” she said.
Part of the city’s efforts to move on is the annual Sangyaw Fiesta, dubbed Festival of Lights, a city-wide parade of various groups, schools and organizations held on the eve of the city fiesta each year. This year, on its 127th fiesta celebration in honor of patron saint the Santo Niño, it was held on June 29, an event marked by colorful floats which carried homegrown queens and other beauties. Trailing them were troops of costumed boys and girls dancing to the beat of drums, canned music, etc.
Mayor Kring and her husband, former mayor Alfred Romualdez, led the parade of lights. The newly elected mayor credited her husband for training her well. While she acknowledged that she didn’t imagine herself in this position when she was younger, Mayor Kring did note that she must have been inspired somewhat by her father, actor Jose Mari Gonzales, who was a former councilor of Mandaluyong.
What is it about being mayor that she likes best? “It is the fact that I can readily be of help to people.’’
The business mood in Tacloban is more upbeat than ever. She said that from 40 hotels in the city pre-Yolanda, there are now 60 hotels in the city.
More malls are coming up in the next two years, assuring Tacloban City’s reputation as a leading trading center in eastern Visayas.
THERE’S GOOD NEWS HERE: In three years’ time, the country will soon witness its own cherry blossoms festival with the recent planting of 34 (and counting) sakura trees from Japan in Atok, Benguet.
The cool weather, 10 to 16 degree Celsius in January and February, in the mountain province has been found suitable to nurture the trees.
Sakura tree-planting is a joint project between Benguet and its sister province, Kochi, in celebration of its 40th anniversary.
More sakura seedlings will be planted this year in the municipalities of Kabayan and Mankayan, according to Governor Masanao Ozaki. The best news of all is that one won’t have to travel to Japan to witness its famed cherry blossoms. We will soon have our own Sakura festival.